Division 2 field hockey: Greenfield stings Frontier in overtime for championship

  • Frontier’s Kimmie Asseng dribbles the ball with Greenfield’s Nikki Miner in pursuit Thursday night during the WMass Division II Field Hockey final at Agawam High School. Miner and the Green Wave went on to take a 2-1 win in overtime. recorder staff/paul franz

  • Frontier’s Kathryn Mason and Greenfield’s Audrey Bresciano compete for a loose ball Thursday night where the Green Wave went on to defeat the Red Hawks in overtime, 2-1, in the WMass Division II Field Hockey championship game at Agawam High School. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Greenfield goalie Samantha Smith makes a game-saving diving save on Frontier’s Kathryn Mason early in overtime and the Green Wave went on to win its second consecutive title with a 2-1 victory Thursday night at Agawam High School. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

For the Gazette
Published: 11/9/2017 10:37:53 PM

AGAWAM — As the officials sorted out what would be the most important call of the season just a few feet away, Audrey Bresciano waited.

Her mind was already made up. She was going to send the ball to the spot she liked most. But just standing and waiting; that was the hard part.

When her time came, the Greenfield junior delivered. Bresciano buried a penalty stroke into the back of the net with 7 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the first overtime period, lifting the second-seeded Green Wave to a 2-1 win over top-seeded Frontier Regional to capture the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Field Hockey Tournament championship, Thursday night at Agawam High School.

The title is the second in a row for Greenfield (15-4-1), which needed penalty strokes to defeat Frontier in last year’s championship game. The game’s pinnacle play came in the build up to Bresciano’s penalty stroke. Greenfield junior Raegan Hickey broke into the Frontier penalty circle midway through the first 15-minute overtime period. As Hickey closed in on the goal area, the referee whistled the Red Hawks for obstruction of her stick. The result was the stroke in a 1-1 game. Bresciano’s name was called by coach Erin Thayer to take the shot.

“I knew what I wanted to do, where I wanted to shoot it,” Bresciano said. “But the extra time (while the referees discussed the call), that just made me nervous having to stand there and think about it.”

Bresciano lifted her shot high and to the left, beating sprawling Frontier goalkeeper Skyla Burniske (five saves).

“Knowing that if I make it, we win a Western Mass. championship, that’s a lot to think about,” Bresciano said. “I just had to believe. Strokes are one the strongest parts of my game.”

The goal capped a wild, back and forth game that was indicative of the rivalry the two teams have created over the years. Frontier (14-3-3) trailed 1-0 with time dwindling in the second half, before McKenzie Patterson struck. Olivia Vecellio carried the ball into the penalty circle, but the ball was knocked away. Patterson picked it up and battled through traffic to sweep a shot past Greenfield goalkeeper Samantha Smith to tie the game, 1-1, with just 6:01 left in regulation.

“That’s one thing we’ve built upon all season is being resilient,” Frontier coach Missy Mahar said. “Going down but being able to come back and not think that the game is over. That’s what we talked about. This is the Western Mass. finals, there’s no guarantee of getting back here year after year. You’ve got to believe that you can come back and score. So I’m really proud of the girls. To fight the way they did, to come back and play the way they did ... I can’t fault the effort that they put into tonight’s game.”

Frontier’s momentum carried into overtime. Greenfield’s Kirsten Ward received a yellow card just before the end of regulation, meaning the Red Hawks had a man-advantage situation for five minutes, and over three minutes of that carried into OT. With the teams moving to seven-on-seven for overtime, Frontier’s extra player in a seven-on-six situation was magnified.

“It was definitely a challenge,” Thayer said. “You’re going five-on-six (in the field). But we talked about what we had to do and everyone had to step up a little more to make sure we did what we had to do on the field.”

Mahar said her team tried to strike early, or at least earn a quick penalty corner.

“You obviously try to take advantage of the man-down situation, push down the field and at least get a corner situation,” Mahar said. “That was our strategy, to keep the pressure up.”

Greenfield survived two penalty corners, but Smith and the defense held tough and cleared the zone. The Wave ultimately broke out offensively when the penalty was over, leading to Hickey’s rush and subsequent penalty stroke.

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