Wednesday, December 4, 2013
By Steve Criag, Staff Writer
SOUTH BERWICK - Cheverus High junior Meredith Willard knows enough about field hockey to know she doesn't know that much.
So, when Willard -- a first-year player -- saw a crossing pass coming through the Marshwood defensive zone with a touch over a minute left in the first half, she didn't overanalyze. The three-sport athlete just let her natural instincts take over and banged home the first goal of the game, which also happened to be her first-ever goal in the sport.
Cheverus went on to win the Western Class A showdown, 2-0, despite the Hawks having a 12-6 shot advantage and a lopsided 15-1 edge in penalty corners.
"All I could think of was to hit it in the direction of the goal," Willard said. "And it went in."
A lacrosse and basketball player who also used to play soccer, Willard picked up field hockey this summer playing in the Cheverus pickup league.
"Meredith has just made things happen in every game. That's why she's our first sub off the bench," Cheverus Coach Amy McMullin said. "Usually it's an assist or a great rush up the field. Every game she has done something so positive."
Cheverus, ranked first in Western Class A, improved to 8-0 and will host second-ranked Scarborough on Wednesday. The inside track to the top seed in the playoffs will be at stake.
"It is important, but at the same time it is the regular season," McMullin said. "We're not going to focus too much on the outcome, win or lose, at this point in the year. It's more important to focus on how we play.
Marshwood lost its second straight, having also been shut out after failing to generate a shot Saturday at Scarborough.
"What I loved about today is that our intensity came up. But once they scored I think we started to play more individually," Marshwood Coach Lisa Truesdale said, noting her team is at its best when it is passing quickly.
The Stags also like to move the ball with quick passes, but they needed big-time individual plays to get past Marshwood. That's where Cheverus goalkeeper Libby DesRuisseaux came in. She made 12 saves, none bigger than a split-leg stop on Janay Wright with 4:45 to play in the first half.
"She saved us," McMullin said. "At halftime we said, OK, it's Libby vs. Marshwood. I don't know how she came up with some of those saves."
Truesdale said some of her players felt they were shooting right at DesRuisseaux. That feeling was due at least in part to DesRuisseaux's ability to read plays and her willingness to come out of the net to reduce the shooting angles.
"We were lucky to come out of the first half ahead 1-0," McMullin said. "We were playing defense about 80 percent of the time. But field hockey is that way at times."
Cheverus' second goal was scored with 24:25 left in the game. Staci Swallow was deep in a crowded circle when her shot popped about eight feet in the air, went over Marshwood keeper Cassidy Smith (four saves) and into the cage.
Balls that go above the waist are often called dangerous -- and Swallow was definitely taking a hack, rather than lifting it cleanly -- so it at first appeared to be the type of goal that could be disallowed. Rather, it was ruled that the shot hopped up after striking a defensive stick.
Truesdale had no qualms about the ruling.
"I couldn't really honestly tell what it hit," she said. "If it was a defensive stick then it's our fault. It's a legit goal."
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at: