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Frontier Regional shuts out Smith Academy, inches closer to field hockey postseason



For the Gazette
Thursday, October 11, 2018

HATFIELD — Led by two assists from Olivia Vecellio, the Frontier Regional field hockey team beat Smith Academy, 2-0, Wednesday, for its second straight win.

Devyn Prusak got on the board first for Frontier, scoring nearly 17 minutes into the first half off an assist from Vecellio.

The goal was enough for the Red Hawks (7-3-2, 4-0-1 Valley League), who are one win away from qualifying for the postseason.

“Getting that goal early kind of lifted us up and gave us a little confidence that we could again capitalize within the attacking 25,” Frontier coach Missy Mahar said.

Frontier built off their first-half lead, as Emily DeMaio found the net off an Vecellio assist only four minutes into the second half. The goal proved to be an important one as Smith Academy (1-6-3, 0-4-0) applied pressure late.

“I think in the second half the momentum kinda switched,” Mahar said. “They were holding their own and were moving the ball much better than we did.”

Despite their offensive performance, Mahar thought her team still had some adjustments to make before the next game.

“I think we just need to play with intensity the entire 60 minutes and that’s something we’ve been really trying to drive home all season,” Mahar said. “Next game I think we need to penetrate more within the attacking 25 and I think we need to make sure that happens from the 40 yard up.”

Skyla Burniske made six saves to earn the shutout for Frontier.

“I think she came up with some big saves in the second half, cutting off a ball that was off the post and I think in the final minutes of the game coming up with some big stops,” Mahar said. “She played consistently for us and had a really good game.”

Even though the Falcons were unable to find the net, assistant coach Judy Strong, who was filling in for head coach Dena Polverari, still found some positives in the loss.

“I think we played hard as a team and that we did not give up for 60 minutes,” Strong said. “Frontier is a very strong team. We had opportunities that we executed very well and I thought their goalie played an amazing game.”

Taeghan Cavanaugh made six saves for the Falcons.

Despite the team’s offensive struggles, Strong was pleased with the production she’s received.

“They’re close, but there’s a very mixed group of some seniors and some young kids. I feel like we’re working on (finishing), we just need to put it all together,” Strong said. “... I’m happy that we’re getting opportunities, we’re not just sitting on defense.”

Frontier goes for its third straight victory on Friday against Westfield in South Deerfield.

The Falcons host Agawam, Thursday.