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WMass field hockey: Frontier Regional draws top seed in Division2

  • Frontier's Olivia Vecellio (7) takes a shot in the second half defended by Minnechaug's Ellie Williams (20) on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Olivia Vecellio (7) takes a shot in the second half against Minnechaug on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • South Hadley's Kayla Carleton, left, controls the ball under pressure from Belchertown's Fiona Murphy Sept. 7, 2017 during a girls field hockey game at South Hadley High School. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • South Hadley's Kayla Carleton, front, takes a shot under pressure from Belchertown's Trinity Pirrone Sept. 7, 2017 during a girls field hockey game at South Hadley High School. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSB



@kylegrbwsk
Monday, October 30, 2017

Frontier Regional and Greenfield faced off for the past two Western Massachusetts Division 2 Field Hockey championships. The Red Hawks prevailed in 2015, and the Green Wave avenged that loss in penalty strokes last season.

They are the top two seeds in this year’s tournament. Frontier (13-2-3) claimed the top spot and a Valley League title over No. 2 Greenfield thanks to a 2-2 rain-soaked draw to close out the regular season Sunday.

“It’s back and forth it’s unexpected, it’s down to the bitter end,” Frontier coach Missy Mahar said. “It was a great game to lead into postseason.”

The Red Hawks and Green Wave (13-4-1) received byes into the tournament semifinals, which will take place Monday.

Frontier will await the winner of No. 5 Southwick at No. 4 South Hadley, which play at 6 p.m. Thursday in South Hadley. The Red Hawks are focused entirely on the winner of that game in the semifinals. They aren’t thinking about potentially seeing Greenfield for a third straight final.

“That’s our main focus right now, and that’s all we should be thinking about,” Mahar said. “I think the Division 2 tournament is wide open.”

There’s still the matter of the wait. By the time Monday rolls around the Red Hawks will have gone more than a week without a game. It’s a familiar position for Frontier, which has started the postseason in the semifinals every year since 2010.

“There’s a challenge in that, keeping your kids motivated and in game shape and mentally prepared,” Mahar said. “We’ve had to come up with a plan to keep the kids active.”

South Hadley received a bye into last year’s semifinals, where it lost to Frontier. Tigers coach Tara Cole said she prefers the team’s situation in 2017: hosting a quarterfinal game.

“It’s a long time to go without a game,” Cole said.

She liked being able to play and potentially win a game in the quarterfinals to build momentum heading into the semifinals.

Mohawk edged the Tigers for the third seed, placing South Hadley right around where Cole expected. Mohawk hosts Mahar in the other quarterfinal.

“I knew Mohawk had a stronger winning record, and I wasn’t sure how our strength of schedule would match up,” she said.

South Hadley (9-7-2) didn’t play Southwick (10-6-2) during the regular season.

“They came to a playday that we hosted,” Cole said. “We’re able to adapt depending on who we’re seeing.”

Division 1

Amherst Regional qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2010 following winless seasons the past two years.

The Hurricanes (4-8-3) made the field by winning the Tri-County League title. They are the tournament’s No. 5 seed and will play at No. 4 Holyoke at 4 p.m. Thursday. Should it advance, Amherst would play top-seeded and six-time defending champion Longmeadow in the semifinals at East Longmeadow on Monday.

Amherst and Holyoke (15-1-2) played twice during the regular season. The Purple Knights won both by a combined score of 12-1.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.