Westbrooker Avery Tucker took a bite out of Massabesic’s three-goal lead midway through the second half of the teams’ field hockey quarterfinals matchup on Wednesday, Oct. 19, but the Mustangs soon answered, nipping the Blazes’ resurgence in the bud. Massabesic’s Emma Rutledge led as her team cruised to a 5-1 upset victory.

“That’s a team that – every girl on the field is a good field hockey player,” said Westbrook co-head coach Theresa Hendrix, new to the program this year. “Unfortunately they came out a little bit stronger than us today.”

“It just wasn’t our day,” said Beth Murphy, the Blazes’ longtime head coach. “Massabesic came out hungry. I’ll give it to them.”

Massabesic applied a good deal of offensive pressure throughout the matchup, but especially in the first half. The Mustangs trapped the Blazes in their own end for long stretches – though, to Westbrook’s credit, they defended ably for quite some times.

Emma Desrochers from Morgan Pike finally began the scoring for Massabesic just over 10 minutes in. A one-goal deficit is hardly insurmountable, of course, but when Rutledge struck with 1:16 to play in the first, Massabesic secured the momentum heading into the break. Indeed, the Mustangs scored again just over 10 minutes into the second, Jacklyn Bearse doing the honors.

The Blazes, though, have been a second-half team throughout the season, and quickly struck back. Tucker juked to the top-right of the circle, where she pulled the trigger on a blistering shot. The ball tumbled over the uneven turf – it may have deflected off another player, battling through the melee – before banging into the back of the cage. 3-1.

Westbrook ultimately gave up two more – Rutledge’s second and one by Sophia LaFrance – before the time-of-death buzzer. 5-1 the final.

The meeting wasn’t the teams’ first of the year: They ran into each other on Oct. 7, with Westbrook emerging victorious 1-0. Entering the rematch, then, the Blazes and the Mustangs had some inkling of what to expect from one another. For Hendrix, that knowledge meant their girls needed to hang tight with Rutledge and Desrochers in particular.

“They had some big scorers we had to look out for,” said Hendrix. “Nos. 1 (Rutledge) and 19 (Desrochers), those were the two we had our eye on. But those girls we did try to key on, they were the ones that hurt us. They were especially big on their corners.”

“The kids played well, overall,” said Murphy. “We just didn’t bring it to the competition that Massabesic brought it to. I’m proud of each and every one of them. They work hard out there, they’ve had a whole new coaching experience this year and they’ve really bought into it.”

Westbrook closes their season at 11-3-1, an impressive improvement over the team’s .500, 8-8 performance last year. The Blazes entered the 2016 bracketing ranked fourth in A South, a seeding that earned them a bye through the prelims and homefield advantage vs. the No. 5 Mustangs (now 11-3-1 as well) in the quarters. 

“It’s tough to tell a group of kids that have come this far and done this well that they still (despite losing) represented – hugely – throughout the week, for Westbrook High School. There was talent there; we’re not going to drop our heads. And the seniors were great leaders this year.”

The Blazes had just four seniors this autumn: Danielle Breunig, Alexandria Phelps, Morgan Rice and Julia Symbol will say goodbye to WHS in June. The squad’s six juniors will presumably all return in 2017 hungier than ever.

Camryn LaPierre of Westbrook pushes forward vs. Massabesic.

Morgan Rice clashes near the endline with a Massabesic opponent.

Westbrook’s Emma Ranco lunges into the action.

Westbrooker Mary Keef fires back across, under pressure from a Mustangs opponent.

Westbrooker Maddison LeBeau battles multiple Mustangs opponents.

Westbrook’s Jaclyn Hazlewood chases down a Mustangs opponent and the ball.

Avery Tucker posted the Blazes’ lone goal in their playoffs loss to Massabesic.

Westbrook’s Alexis Witham cuts cross-field.

Kallie Cyr fires forward for Westbrook vs. Massabesic.

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