Division 3 field hockey: Frontier comes up short in 2-0 loss to Greenfield in finals

  • Greenfield’s Raegan Hickey, left, and Maeve Huit, of Frontier Regional, fight for possession in the first half of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 champshionship, Thursday night in East Longmeadow. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield’s Audrey Bresciano, left, dribbles down the sideline defended by Frontier’s Cassidy Bardwell, right, in the first half of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 champshionship, Thursday night in East Longmeadow. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier Regional’s Olivia Vecellio, center, winds up to take a shot against Greenfield in the second half of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 champshionship, Thursday night in East Longmeadow. Greenfield won 2-0. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Raegan Hickey (5) clears the ball away from the Frontier offense in the second half of the WMass Div. 2 champshionship Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 11/9/2018 1:06:26 AM

EAST LONGMEADOW — For the fourth year in a row, the Frontier Regional field hockey team got its crack at rival Greenfield in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 title game.

But for the third year in a row, the top-seeded Green Wave rode back to town as champions.

Olivia Joy netted an early goal and Audrey Bresciano tacked on some insurance, propelling Greenfield to a 2-0 victory over No. 3 Frontier, Thursday night at East Longmeadow High School.

Greenfield (19-2) advanced to play in the state tournament, where the Wave will look to break through after two consecutive losses in the semifinals. Their opponent is still to be determined, but the semis are slated for Tuesday night at Tantasqua Regional in Fiskdale.

“Greenfield is an excellent team and they possess the ball so well,” Frontier coach Missy Mahar said. “They really shined on turf, you can see their skill. Coming in, we needed to create opportunities in the attacking 25. The fact we were able to do that at times was a positive. We had spurts of an attack but every time we’d get close, they’d wack it 60 yards downfield the other way.”

Bresciano scored in all three of Greenfield’s postseason victories. The senior tallied the game-winning penalty stroke in overtime to beat Frontier in the 2017 finals.

“It’s such a good feeling knowing how much we’ve done for the program and how much we’ve been able to accomplish here,” Bresciano said.

Frontier won in 2015, but Thursday night was Greenfield’s third straight title — a first for a field hockey program with decades of tradition.

“We never really talked about this moment throughout the season until we got into the postseason,” Greenfield coach Erin Thayer said. “We just did our thing and looked at the task at hand in front of us. There was a bull’s-eye on our backs, but I’m very proud of how the girls responded and came through it all. They played very, very well tonight.”

Frontier (12-6-3) was unable to beat Greenfield in three meetings this season, though the Red Hawks certainly weren’t an easy out. Led by junior midfielder Olivia Vecellio, who had a strong game in defeat, the squad had moments of promise but couldn’t solve the puzzle around the Green Wave net.

Greenfield got off to a dream start however, scoring the game’s first goal just 1:37 into the opening half. Senior Raegan Hickey started the play, sending the ball from the right side into the danger area in front of Frontier goalkeeper Skyla Burniske. A quick scrum for the ball ensued with several players involved, but it was Joy who made contact, driving a shot into the back of the net to give the defending champs a 1-0 advantage.

“Getting a goal (1:30) in, that really helps us get a positive mindset for the rest of the game,” Hickey said. “You can’t ask for a better start.”

Thayer was pleased with her team’s ability to assert themselves immediately.

“The last thing you want is to have to chase the game later on,” Thayer said. “So that was our game plan, to go out and put pressure right away, get a quick chance and score an early goal. They executed to perfection.”

Playing catch-up is never easy, especially against a team like Greenfield.

“It’s hard to bounce back from a quick goal like that,” Mahar said. “You’re really up against it all game after that. Yes, there’s still plenty of time but it really knocks you down right away.”

Greenfield is particularly dangerous on corners, and the Wave cashed in on one for an insurance tally with 9:47 left before halftime. Freshman Maddy Kuchieski pounced on a loose ball that was nearly cleared on a corner, and she found Bresciano in front of the Frontier net. With her back to the goal, Bresciano spun and fired a shot that doubled the lead and put Greenfield in control before halftime.

Frontier’s best flurry came with 10 minutes left in the second half. Vecellio helped the Hawks win three consecutive corners, but Greenfield’s defense held strong. The Wave held Frontier without a shot on goal in the win, and Greenfield’s possession game in the second half did the job to secure a third straight crown.

“We put up a good fight and held strong in the second half,” Mahar said of her team, which loses seniors Caroline Moreau and Ivy Shattuck. “The girls still have a lot to be proud of and I told them that. They’re one of two teams left still playing in Division 2 and that speaks volumes. To get back to the final this year, it’s definitely a big accomplishment.”

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