Amherst Regional bottles up Smith Academy field hockey in 0-0 draw

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  • Gabrielle Mahoney, left, of Amherst Regional, and Maddy Skawski, of Smith Academy, vie for the ball, Wednesday at Amherst Regional High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Zora Dallmann, right, of Amherst Regional, passes against Karlie Guimond, of Smith Academy, Wednesday at Amherst Regional. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Charlotte Cavanaugh, left, of Smith Academy, looks for a shot against Amherst Regional goalie Lydia Sullivan, but Sullivan kicks it away, Wednesday at Amherst Regional High School. The teams finished in a 0-0 tie. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Richita Randhir, right, of Amherst Regional, moves the ball against Makena Valentine, of Smith Academy, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Smith Academy players Karlie Guimond, left, and Makena Valentine, right, go to the ball against Elena Humbeck, of Amherst Regional, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Francesca Polino, left, of Amherst Regional, and Maisy Dyer, of Smith Academy, go to the ball, Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Karlie Guimond, left, of Smith Academy, and Elena Humbeck, of Amherst Regional, race to the ball, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Maisy Dyer, left, of Smith Academy, stops a pass beside Amherst Regional goalie Lydia Sullivan, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Francesca Polino, front right, of Amherst Regional, moves the ball against Maisy Dyer, of Smith Academy, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. Elena Humbeck looks on. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/2/2019 9:52:20 PM

AMHERST — Previous Amherst Regional field hockey teams would have assumed a loss against Smith Academy before even taking the field.

The Hurricanes didn’t win a game between October of 2014 and September 2017. Times have changed. Amherst made the last two postseason tournaments and changed its culture.

The Hurricanes view Smith Academy as equals and played like it on Wednesday as the teams battled to a 0-0 draw.

“We would have been like ‘shoot they’re a good team let’s try to not lose by a lot’ and we would give up,” Amherst senior Zora Dallmann. “I could tell with this group there was not a single moment where we thought we can’t win this.”

Amherst (7-1-2) weathered the Falcons’ pressure for most of the game. Smith Academy (8-0-1) created three penalty corners compared to one for the Hurricanes. Amherst picked its spots to try and counter but couldn’t capitalize on a breakaway.

“Smith is a really well-coached team and a balanced team from back to front. We wanted to try and use our big game to get them off balance because when you’re on the run you’re naturally off balance,” Amherst coach Michelle Risch said. “We had to stay away from our small game, I don’t feel like we could beat them in the small game.”

The Falcons increased their pressure in the second half. Senior Karlie Guimond created a chance with 12 minutes, 24 seconds left after carrying the ball on her stick and into the box, but Amherst goalie Lydia Sullivan was up to the task. She finished with five saves, four in the second half.

“She keeps us organized because she can see the whole field. We’re frantic trying to get it and she’s like ‘you’ve got this player, you’ve got this,’” Dallman said. “It makes it so we’re all on our marks and we all know what’s going on.”

A win would have qualified the Falcons for the Division 2 tournament for the first time since 2015. Instead, they moved within one point of assuring a spot and remained undefeated.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s not a loss. We didn’t let any goals into our net,” said Guimond, who was an eighth grader on the last postseason team. “We get next game, and we can qualify then. Onwards and upwards.”

Guimond and Bailey McCoy challenged Amherst’s defense in the middle of the field, while Makena Valentine provided an outlet and transitioned the ball up the right side of the field. Hadley Szynal didn’t face any shots on goal.

“We just didn’t find the back of the net, and it happens. We had opportunities we didn’t capitalize on,” Smith Academy coach Dena Polverari said. “Definitely gives you something to work toward for the next game and the future. Both teams have something to be proud of and played good hockey.”

Amherst needs two more points to qualify for the postseason for the third year in a row. The Hurricanes are at Southwick at 4 p.m. Friday.

“Coming in freshman year, people almost saw field hockey as a joke,” Dallman said. “We have so much to thank (Coach) Michelle (Risch) for because she came in and said ‘we’re going to turn this around and I’m going to be here.’”




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