Saturday, March 8, 2014
CHEVERUS 1, WESTBROOK 0
By Mike Lowe email@example.com
WESTBROOK — After losing its first game of the season on Saturday, the Cheverus High field hockey team had something to prove Monday afternoon – to itself and to everyone else.
Sarah LaQuerre of Cheverus sends the ball away while surrounded by Westbrook players – Sydney Hebert, left, Katrina Romano, second from left, and Taryn Ferrante. LaQuerre assisted on the only goal in Cheverus’ 1-0 victory.
Photos by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer
Kayla Winton, left, of Westbrook and Gabi Cardona of Cheverus fight for possession during an SMAA field hockey game Monday at Westbrook. Cheverus, the top-ranked team in Western Class A, won 1-0.
The Stags, ranked No. 1 in Western Class A, did just that, edging previously undefeated Westbrook 1-0. Emily Sawchuck scored in the first half, and the Stags turned back a relentless Westbrook attack in the final 30 minutes.
"Definitely this was a big (win) for us," said Sawchuck, a senior forward. "We had to get back on our feet and show everyone we are legit.
"We definitely tried our best today. It was a good test for us."
Westbrook gave the Stags everything they could handle in a game played at a playoff pitch. The Blazes had a big territorial edge in the second half, getting seven of their 11 penalty corners.
But Cheverus' defense, led by Taylor Witham and Staci Swallow, held on. Swallow, the flyer on the Stags' corner defense, blocked several shots on corners. Witham cleared whatever balls got through.
"We just try to stop them before they can get a shot," said Witham. "If they get a shot, then there can be a rebound and another shot."
Cheverus Coach Amy McMullin also cited the defensive play of Catie Walsh on Westbrook sniper Sarah Howard. "She did an excellent job," said McMullin. "We really needed this coming off Saturday."
The Stags improved to 6-1, while Westbrook, which hadn't played in a week, dropped to 4-1.
"Part of it was the week off," said Westbrook Coach Beth Murphy. "It's hard to come back after a week and know you're going to have to play Cheverus. You know they're going to be tough.
"But we had our opportunities."
Cheverus didn't have many but capitalized on its best, with Sawchuck and Sarah LaQuerre combining on a pretty goal. They are the Stags' two top threats – two of the best in the state in fact – having combined for 29 goals a year ago.
LaQuerre carried the ball up the right side and got behind Westbrook's defense. As she closed in, LaQuerre snapped a pass across the circle to Sawchuck, who was uncovered on the left. Sawchuck settled the ball, then flicked it into the net for a 1-0 lead with 16:50 left in the first half.
"Unfortunately, Emily got open for that split-second," said Murphy. "You can't let down with Emily Sawchuck. She's a tough little player."
And very skilled. She had the sense to settle the ball, rather than attempt a one-timer.
"You've got to have soft hands," said Sawchuck, who scored 16 goals as a junior. "You've got to be relaxed with the ball. You can't be uptight or the ball is going to go everywhere.
"You've got to have a lot of patience with it to collect it on your stick and then make the right choice where to put it."
Westbrook certainly tried to rally in the second half. But the Blazes couldn't beat Cheverus goalie Cindy Clark, a sophomore playing her first year of field hockey.
Clark made the game's best save with 13 minutes remaining. During a scrum in front of the Stags' net, the ball suddenly shot out, and Clark flashed out her right pad to knock it away.
Westbrook goalie Maryssa Arsenault made a couple outstanding saves in the second half as well, kicking out hard drives by Sawchuck and LaQuerre on separate penalty corners.
"It was frustrating," said Westbrook's Olivia Marsden. "You want it so much. You want to be one of the top teams.
"Cheverus is good. It was just a good game, to watch and to be in."
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Taryn Ferrante of Westbrook tries to block a shot by Sarah LaQuerre while Brooke Flaherty looks on.