Smith Academy field hockey falls in overtime to Mohawk
Danielle Duseau of Smith Academy, left, and Kesheal Henderson of Mohawk Regional battle for the ball Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Smith Academy lost 2-1 in overtime. Purchase photo reprints »
Emiko Barker of Smith Academy, front, lines up a shot against Mohawk Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Smith Academy lost 2-1 in overtime. Purchase photo reprints »
Kelly Ryan of Smith Academy, right, moves the ball against Whitney Roberts of Mohawk Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Smith Academy lost 2-1 in overtime. Purchase photo reprints »
Emiko Barker of Smith Academy, right, moves the ball against Morgan Dodge of Mohawk Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Smith Academy lost 2-1 in overtime. Purchase photo reprints »
Whitney Roberts of Mohawk Regional, right, moves the ball against Emiko Barker of Smith Academy Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Mohawk won 2-1 in overtime. Morgan Dodge is in the background. Purchase photo reprints »
HOLYOKE — The Smith Academy field hockey team had attempted so many corner opportunities during Thursday’s Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament semifinal, Mohawk Trail had a good idea of what was coming on try number 13 late in the first sudden death overtime.
So when Falcons senior Emiko Barker collected the entry from the top of the circle and passed toward Danielle Duseau, Warriors Kesheal Henderson stepped in front of the ball and took it downfield.
Mohawk's Whitney Roberts took possession and sent a ball to Jenny Dawson, who took a long run down the right side before crossing to far post. Katelyn Carmody was there to deflect it into the goal to give her team the 2-1 win with 4 minutes, 32 seconds remaining in the first overtime.
“We are gaining confidence (with each defended corner) because we know they are just as stressed as we are,” Mohawk coach Lynn Hoeppner said. “We know we are putting pressure on them. We know they have a couple of moves and you figure them out. On that last corner, which we got the fast break from, was Kesheal knowing the pass to the left was coming and being patient.”
The No. 2 Falcons (11-4-4) carried play for virtually the entire 65-plus minutes, but struggled to beat Mohawk freshman goaltender Cassie Kudlay (seven saves).
“I think the girls worked as hard we could,” Smith Academy coach Dena Polverari said. “We definitely wanted it. It was an evenly matched game, but one team has to come out on top and it just wasn’t us today.”
No. 3 Mohawk (8-6-4) advances to play No. 1 Frontier (14-4-1) in the championship game Saturday at West Springfield at 1 p.m. Frontier beat Pioneer Regional 2-0 in the other semifinal.
“It is really nice” to get to the finals, Carmody said. “They are a really strong team and we’ve been working really hard together. They gave it their all against us. It was a really even battle.”
The loss marked the final game for Smith Academy seniors Hannah Ellis, Emiko Barker and Julia Muccino.
“This entire group is really special,” Polverari said. “They really grabbed my heart more than any other team I’ve had. This is a really special group of girls.”
Despite outshooting the Warriors 6-2 in the first 30 minutes, the Falcons trailed 1-0 at halftime. They evened the score with 19:02 left in regulation when a ball on a Smith restart hit Henderson in the face, but was deemed a “play on” by the referees. Some players stopped to assume there was a whistle coming, but Kelly Ryan didn’t. She took possession on the left post and popped it into the net.
Smith carried the rest of regulation, with numerous crosses just missing sticks in front of the net. In the 7-on-7 overtime period, the Falcons took control from the start and earned five corners, but put just one shot on goal.
“We didn’t execute our corners,” Polverari said. “We had plenty of opportunities. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.”
The fifth and final one turned the tables, however, as Henderson’s steal started the wheels moving toward the game winner.
“It gets more and more anxious (as the game goes on). It builds you up because you aren’t sure what’s going to happen,” said Carmody, whose team went 0-1-1 against Smith in the regular season. “They are such a good team. We really wanted this and it showed with all of our young girls that we can go to the next level and play.”
Jim Pignatiello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.