Published in the October 27, 2017 edition

MELROSE HIGH field hockey honored their seniors on Senior Night at the start of their game against Danvers on Tuesday. Pictured, with their families, L-R, are: Lauren Freed, Hannah Powell-Flatt, Gabby Smith, Nina Gesnaldo, Samantha Kroon and Ellen Zinnah. At left: Coach Erin Parker. (courtesy photo: Michelle Carson)


MELROSE—The Melrose High field hockey team were handed a 5-0 loss on Friday, October 13 at Pine Banks in a tough match against a stacked Watertown roster. The Red Raiders played much of the game in the defensive zone as Watertown (17-1) started to set up shop early, connecting on long passes, and getting corners right off the jump. On the second corner in the Melrose end, an absolute rip of a Watertown shot was tipped into the net putting Watertown ahead early. Reigning state champ Watertown, who broke a national record for consecutive wins last season, did a lot of what they are known for: scoring. 

Not five minutes later, Watertown was back in the Melrose end forcing Melrose net minder Courtney O’Connor to step into action with a superb kick save as a Watertown shot zoomed for the bottom right corner. Mairead Clark blocked a follow up Watertown shot and sent the ball to Gabby Smith who moved it upfield and sent a cross field pass to Emma Munroe for some much needed Melrose offense. However, the ball was soon back in the Melrose zone and Watertown bucked another shot at the net that was blocked by Ellen Zinah, who then carried the ball upfield to the Watertown end which allowed Melrose to set up briefly before being brought swiftly back to the Melrose end.

As Watertown looked to make a final pass to put themselves in the Melrose shooting circle, Nora Daly stepped up to take on the Watertown forward head on, battling for the ball and winning, sending the ball upfield for a quick clear before Watertown was knocking on the door again, this time being awarded a corner. After a quick initial shot was stonewalled by O’Connor, Sophie Brennan swept up the rebound and zig zagged out of the zone for a Red Raider clear. Melrose continued to grind against the constant Watertown rushes but they began to add up, by the end if the first half Watertown’s crazy number of skill shooters and nine corners had brought the score to Watertown 4, Melrose 0.

Taliah Chase started out the second half on a much more positive note rushing upfield early and stealing the ball back after a pass went off course onto a Watertown stick. Melrose made several impressive adjustments at halftime and on the first Watertown corner of the second half, Nina Gesnaldo rushed the Watertown shooter and swept the ball upfield where Mairead Clark took the breakout around some Watertown defenders and sent a precision pass to Elizabeth Carson, who was able to outstrip two Watertown defenders before Watertown was back in possession. Melrose was clearly stepping it up, with more Watertown rushes stopped and the Melrose end zone also cleared out quickly.

About halfway through the final half, another Watertown corner had Melrose’s Mairead Clark, Nina Gesnaldo and Gabby Smith shutting down attempts to get a shot off, however, as Watertown regrouped, they let off a volley of three shots that Melrose goalie Brianna Stanton stopped with two back-to-back kick saves and an excellent blocker deflection. Melrose continued this hustle for the rest of the half, only letting in one more Watertown goal in this half bringing the final score to Watertown 5, Melrose 0. Despite the score Melrose laid it on the line in this game, hustling the entire time, making smart adjustments when necessary, and showing real grit with 7 players blocking 11 scorching Watertown shots without batting an eye.

On Friday, Melrose will close out their season with a finale against Burlington at Pine Banks at 7 p.m.