Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By STEVE CRAIG/Staff Writer
WATERBORO — Sarah Hopkins scored twice from Danielle Richards in the first 71/2 minutes, and Westbrook went on to a criticial 2-1 victory against Massabesic in an SMAA field hockey game Monday.
Emily Blackmore of Westbrook, right, tries to control the ball ahead of Bailey Ohman of Massabesic during their Western Class A field hockey game Monday. Westbrook scored two goals early and held on for a 2-1 victory.
Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer
Ally Lemay of Westbrook, right, and Alex Staples of Massabesic give chase to a loose ball in the game between two of the top teams in the SMAA.
"Huge win. Points. Massabesic's worth a lot of points," Westbrook Coach Beth Murphy said.
"They've got some key wins. I told the girls before the game, 'these last couple of games count. Do you want to win to get out of a prelim game?"
Both teams are 8-2-1 with three games remaining in the regular season. Massabesic entered the game ranked third with Westbrook fourth in Western Class A.
The top five teams receive a first-round bye, with the top four at home for regional quarterfinal games.
Hannah Patch of the Mustangs cut the lead to 2-1 with 10:29 remaining in the game, completing a fast break that was set up by the speed and dodging ability of Jackie Guillemette.
Aided by the play of reserves Siobhan Foley and Lea Hopkins, Westbrook was able to hold its ground and controlled the ball for most of the final five minutes.
"They came into our house and stole our lunch," Massabesic Coach Michele Martin-Moore said. "That's what happens when you aren't ready to play right from the start. It's a hard lesson but a good lesson to learn before we get to the playoffs, and it's one and done."
On Hopkins' first goal, Massabesic goalie Abby Greenleaf tried to kick the ball out of the circle only to have it get trapped under her foot.
Richards was able to poke it free and push it from right to left across the goal mouth, and Hopkins converted the uncontested shot 4:07 into the game.
The second goal had a similar finish from Hopkins after Richards made a clean, crisp crossing pass that caught Greenleaf (11 saves) well out from her goal.
Again, Hopkins was in the right spot.
"Weak side. Hoppy was right there in the middle. She's my smartest kid out there," Murphy said. "She knows where to be at all times. In the middle of the field she knows where to be helping out. In the circle she knows to get in front of the goalie and tap them in."
Especially in the first 20 minutes, Westbrook used good old-fashioned long hits after a turnover to switch the field and initiate offense.
Many teams are now favoring the self-start dribble over the drive. Emily Blackmore, playing center midfield instead of her normal sweeper role to add to the offense, was especially effective with a swing reminiscent of a golfer striking a full 5-iron. Kerigan Demers and Tori Winton also cranked a few 40-yard drives into space.
"I think the drives are more effective because the offense is already up by the goals," Blackmore said. "If you drive it up, they're already there to hit it in. The defense for the other team is already coming to us so they're wide open."
As Massabesic shut down the driving lanes, it gained more control of the game. Westbrook escaped the first half with its two-goal lead intact when defender Abby LeBlanc made a sweet stick save on a penalty corner bid with under 20 seconds to play.
Mustangs defender Kaelyn Kuni's effort and effective play shutting down Richards on the right wing helped swing the tide in the second half. But shots on Westbrook goalie Nicole Miranda (6 saves) were limited, in part because of the defensive effort in the circle on Guillemette, Massabesic's leading scorer.
"Double-team their best player and don't let them get the ball, and Guillemette's a tough player," Murphy said. "She's dangerous. She's probably the best player in the league that I've seen. I've seen her all summer so I know how good she really is."
"After the first 10 minutes we played much better," Martin-Moore said. "But you can't spot a good team two goals and expect to win."
click image to enlarge
Massabesic goalie Abby Greenleaf makes a save and looks to keep control of the ball Monday against Westbrook in their field hockey game at Waterboro. Westbrook came away with a 2-1 victory.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer