Northampton field hockey overcomes halftime deficit, advances to D1 semifinals
GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Olivia Cotton, left, and the Northampton field hockey team defeated Westfield 3-2 Friday in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament first round. Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton field hockey team was in uncharted territory Friday.
The Blue Devils trailed at halftime for the first time all season, adding a little pressure to its Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament quarterfinal matchup with Westfield.
Following a Northampton surge early in the second half, the Bombers called timeout. While Westfield attempted to regroup, the Blue Devils pounced and scored three unanswered goals en route to a 3-2 victory.
“We knew we had to stay strong and play our game,” senior Shannon O’Leary said of the halftime deficit. “We knew we had it, with just had to stay with it, take a breather, relax. We were all over the place for a little bit.”
The third-seeded Blue Devils (15-1-3) will face No. 2 Minnechaug Thursday at West Springfield in the semifinals. A time has yet to be determined. Minnechaug beat No. 7 East Longmeadow 5-0 Friday.
“Practice hard, very hard,” sophomore Missie Maiewski said about semifinal preparation. “Just expect the hardest from that team because we haven’t played them before. We have to expect the best.”
The Bombers (8-9-2) took a 1-0 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Westfield used the momentum to control the rest of the half but the Northampton defense held on.
“It was different having us trail but I don’t think it effected them,” Hamp coach Mike Dean said. The goal came “early in the game so in their mind it was still 0-0. They worked hard to turn it over and pull out a win.”
Within the first nine minutes of the second half the Blue Devils had five corner opportunities with a reshuffled lineup. While the team went 0 for 5, it took control of the game. Westfield called a timeout with 21:09 left but it only energized Hamp, which switched back to its regular lineup.
“We tried some new people in new positions just to keep the other team guessing,” Dean said. “It didn’t quite work like I expected it to so we went back to our traditional format and that seemed to get the confidence up and allowed us to get those two goals.”
Maiewski scored the tying goal with 20:33 left off an assist by Shannon Keefe. Hamp immediately forced a turnover and attacked again. Reilly Griffin scored 35 seconds later on an assist by Emily Poehlein to give Hamp a 2-1 edge.
“We were trying to get as many shots as possible,” Maiewski said. “Just keep it together and in 30 seconds we got a second goal and we knew that we could keep it up, keep it going.”
The lead expanded to two with 10:13 left when O’Leary scored from Leah Fagen.
Westfield cut the deficit to one with 7:37 left but the Northampton defense made the lead stand. Mary Greco made five saves, while Sam Krumpholz played solid defense in front of the net.
“Sam has been a phenomenal player this season,” Dean said. “She’s solid, she chases after everything and gets the job done. Without her we wouldn’t have the chances at the top of the field.”
Mike Moran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.