October 22, 2013

Field Hockey Notebook: Several playoff games could become upsets this week

By Steve Craig scraig@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

As unheralded No. 11 seed Sanford High showed Saturday when it beat No. 6 Thornton Academy in the preliminary round, playoff upsets can and do happen in field hockey.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Elizabeth Helmreich, Sanford sophomore: Came through with the tying goal in the late stages of a 3-2 overtime win as the No. 11 Spartans upset No. 6 Thornton Academy. Added a goal in the penalty corner portion of overtime. Earlier in the week she scored the overtime winner in a 1-0 victory against Gorham.

HONORABLE MENTION

Taylor Simpson, York senior: Scored three goals in a 4-0 win last Tuesday at North Yarmouth Academy as the Wildcats sewed up the top seed in Western Class B.

Lucy Fowler, Lake Region senior: Scored both goals in a 2-0 win at Sacopee Valley in the fifth-seeded Lakers’ regular-season finale.

Hannah Skvorak, Windham sophomore: Scored three goals as the Eagles ended the regular season with a 4-0 win against playoff-bound Biddeford.

 AREA TOP 5

1. York

2. Scarborough

3. Cheverus

4. Marshwood

5. Massabesic

Now the question is: Will it happen again this season?

Here are three games on Wednesday that could have “upset special” attached to them. 

CLASS A: No. 11 Sanford (8-7) at No. 3 Falmouth (12-2).The Yachtsmen are the clear favorites in Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game. Their only losses this year have come against undefeated York.

So why does a squad loaded with athletic and experienced seniors get put into this dubious category?

Because Falmouth has played a Class B schedule all season.

Playing a non-Class A slate does not preclude the Yachtsmen from success. It just creates a wait-and-see feeling, especially in field hockey where there is little precedent.

Also, Falmouth has made a habit of winning close games (five 1-0 wins, a pair of 2-0 wins). When you live on the edge, there’s a greater chance of falling.

Sanford’s young pups are already playing with house money. They also have enough speed on the wings to stay with Falmouth’s best clutch scorer, Mikey Richards. And, if the game does reach the dreaded penalty corner stage to determine a winner, the Spartans have already been there and done that. 

CLASS A: No. 7 Westbrook (9-6) at No. 2 Massabesic (12-2)

The field hockey teams from Westbrook and Massabesic have some history – and the heavily favored Mustangs will be trying to reverse some of that on Wednesday (3:30 p.m.)

A year ago, Westbrook won a No. 4 vs. No. 5 quarterfinal, 1-0, after beating Massabesic 2-1 in the regular season.

This year Massabesic won the regular-season meeting, 3-1, and is clearly the better team. But the Mustangs are carrying the burden of having a group of seniors who are all too aware they have never gotten past the quarterfinal round.

If Massabesic scores early it could easily win this by three or four goals. The longer the game stays scoreless, the better for Westbrook, which has a fleet combination in Micaela LeBeau and Siobhan Foley who can strike on a counterattack.

Massabesic is also at its best in transition, using midfield talents Alex Staples and Logan Provencher to spring their forwards on quick attacks, with senior sniper Jackie Guillemette the top target. 

CLASS B: No. 6 Kennebunk (8-4-2) at No. 3 Cape Elizabeth (10-4)

As the records attest, this would be the mildest of upsets were it to happen. Cape has beaten Kennebunk twice this year, but both were by 1-0 scores.

Since the latest encounter, Kennebunk has gone 3-0-1 while Cape came up short in big-game opportunities against Falmouth and York. The Capers have also been prone to getting in two- and five-minute man-down situations.

THE PENALTY CORNER overtime procedure has been clarified.

Sue Weatherbie, Western Maine’s assigner of officials for field hockey, confirmed that the format for overtime penalty corners was incorrectly administered in Sanford’s 3-2 preliminary win at Thornton Academy.

Sanford scored on its second corner of the third set of corners (a set consists of three corner attempts per team). Thornton did not score on its first or second corner attempt.

Sanford should have been declared the winner at that point.

The 2013 MPA field hockey bulletin reads in the section title Overtime Procedure; part III, Corners 6 on 6 (one must be goalie): “When a team is ahead and both teams have had equal opportunity – Game over. This could happen at any point in a set.”

Instead of it being sudden victory as the rule intends, Thornton was given a third corner because the game officials felt a set needed to be completed. Thornton tied the game, but Sanford went on to win with the only goal in the fourth set.

Weatherbie said the only reason the corner sequences are broken into sets is to allow a two-minute break between sets for coaches to meet with their players.

At no point does a set need to be completed. As soon as their is a difference in score when both teams have had equal turns, the game is over.

Weatherbie added the procedures have remained unchanged for approximately 10 years.

CHEVERUS HAS again opted to give up its home field in favor of playing on artificial turf.

As the fourth seed in Western Class A, the Stags (11-2-1) had the right to play on their grass field. Instead, they will host No. 4 Marshwood (11-3) Wednesday at Deering High’s Memorial Field. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

“Pretty much every game after this is on turf if you’re lucky enough to get through,” Cheverus Coach Amy McMullin said. “We just think it helps the girls.”

Last year Cheverus used Cape Elizabeth’s facilities for its quarterfinal and semifinal games before losing at Scarborough in the regional final.

The game could feature an excellent one-on-one matchup between Cheverus senior forward Elyse Caiazzo and Marshwood junior midfielder Lindsey Poirier. Caiazzo marked up Poirier in the Stags’ 1-0 win at Marshwood in the regular season.

“They’ll both be around each other. We may put someone else on (Poirier) just to change things up,” McMullin said.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:scraig@pressherald.comTwitter: SteveCCraig

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