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Sydney Judge powers Frontier into field hockey final

  • Sydney Judge of Frontier, center, scores her second goal against Pioneer Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier won 2-0.

    Sydney Judge of Frontier, center, scores her second goal against Pioneer Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier won 2-0. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sydney Judge of Frontier Regional, center, celebrates her second goal with teammates Jordan Rowe, from left, Jordan Roberts, Taryn Marquis and Brenna Sicard Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier defeated Pioneer Regional 2-0.

    Sydney Judge of Frontier Regional, center, celebrates her second goal with teammates Jordan Rowe, from left, Jordan Roberts, Taryn Marquis and Brenna Sicard Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier defeated Pioneer Regional 2-0. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sydney Judge of Frontier Regional, center, celebrates her second goal with teammates Jordan Rowe, from left, Jordan Roberts, Taryn Marquis and Brenna Sicard Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier defeated Pioneer Regional 2-0.

    Sydney Judge of Frontier Regional, center, celebrates her second goal with teammates Jordan Rowe, from left, Jordan Roberts, Taryn Marquis and Brenna Sicard Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier defeated Pioneer Regional 2-0. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jordan Roberts of Frontier Regional, right, moves the ball against Alyssa Llewelyn of Pioneer Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier won 2-0. Sydney Judge is in the background.

    Jordan Roberts of Frontier Regional, right, moves the ball against Alyssa Llewelyn of Pioneer Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier won 2-0. Sydney Judge is in the background. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Rose Moscarlitolo of Frontier, right, moves the ball against Alyssa Llewelyn of Pioneer Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier won 2-0.

    Rose Moscarlitolo of Frontier, right, moves the ball against Alyssa Llewelyn of Pioneer Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier won 2-0. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sydney Judge of Frontier, center, scores her second goal against Pioneer Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier won 2-0.
  • Sydney Judge of Frontier Regional, center, celebrates her second goal with teammates Jordan Rowe, from left, Jordan Roberts, Taryn Marquis and Brenna Sicard Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier defeated Pioneer Regional 2-0.
  • Sydney Judge of Frontier Regional, center, celebrates her second goal with teammates Jordan Rowe, from left, Jordan Roberts, Taryn Marquis and Brenna Sicard Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier defeated Pioneer Regional 2-0.
  • Jordan Roberts of Frontier Regional, right, moves the ball against Alyssa Llewelyn of Pioneer Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier won 2-0. Sydney Judge is in the background.
  • Rose Moscarlitolo of Frontier, right, moves the ball against Alyssa Llewelyn of Pioneer Regional Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Frontier won 2-0.

But in the first postseason game of the midfielder’s senior season, it was Judge who came through as the finisher with two early goals in the Red Hawks’ 2-0 win over Pioneer Regional in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament semifinals.

Judge “is always so effective taking the ball down and normally she sends in a nice cross,” Frontier coach Missy Mahar said. “But today they gave her the lane and she took it. She did a phenomenal job for us today.”

No. 1 Frontier (14-4-1) advances to the title game against No. 3 Mohawk Trail (8-6-4) on Saturday at West Springfield at 1 p.m.

Frontier hopes to become the first team to win back-to-back WMass D-2 titles since it accomplished the feat in 2004 and 2005.

“Being the No. 1 seed and the defending champs, you definitely want to be back in that game,” said Mahar, whose team defeated the Warriors 3-0 at home on Sept. 6 and 1-0 in Buckland on Oct. 24. “The pressure is on. They knew coming into this that it is kind of a monkey on your back. They held themselves high. They held their composure and they got through the game. The finals will be a different story. It’s a tough matchup.”

Judge’s first goal came on a hard ball from the top of the circle toward the left post. Teammate Rose Moscaritolo was there, but didn’t need to get a stick on it to put it past Pioneer goaltender Emily Walker (seven saves) with 24 minutes, 2 seconds left.

“I was at the top and I know Rose is always on the weak side, so I just sent a ball that way and it happened to go in,” said Judge, who had five goals and 11 assists this season.

Judge doubled the lead 7 minutes later when the Panthers’ defense couldn’t stop her in traffic in front and she unloaded her shot into the goal.

“I took it in and no one was really stopping me,” Judge said. “So I planted and took a hard shot at the goal.”

Gwen Thayer made one save for Frontier, which controlled play throughout the contest, but never added to its lead.

The shutout was Frontier’s 11th of the season.

Mahar said she was happy with her team’s performance after it had gone 2-2 in its final four regular season games.

“The girls worked extremely hard in their roughly two weeks, week-and-a-half off,” she said. “We talked about what we needed to do as a team about what we needed to do in the postseason. This is the first chapter, getting by the semifinals. They came today ready to execute.”

Judge credited using some of that practice time on a turf field like the one at Holyoke and West Side as key in her team’s preparation.

“We definitely got some turf time, which helped a ton,” said Judge, whose team spent some practices at Deerfield Academy. “We got to get used to how quick it is and that helped a ton. It’s a totally different game, but it worked for our team because we are quick.”

Mohawk, however, will be a different challenge.

“They are also a really quick team, so we have to keep that in mind,” Judge said. “We have to play as hard as we can and I know we can win it.”

Jim Pignatiello can be reached at jpignatiello@gazettenet.com.

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