Greenfield, Frontier clash for WMass Division 2 field hockey title

  • Frontier’s Lily Spencer buries a goal past Southwick goalie Clare Stratton during Monday’s WMass Div. 2 semifinal win. Spencer and the Red Hawks will play No. 1 Greenfield for the fourth straight year in the sectional final tonight at 5:30 in East Longmeadow.

  • Olivia Vecellio of Frontier, seen here against Southwick on Monday, is the top scorer for the Red Hawks as they enter tonight’s WMass Div. 2 title game against Greenfield. file photo/jerrey roberts

  • Greenfield’s Lucy Postera and Raegan Hickey battle with South Hadley’s Bella Yee during Monday’s semifinal win. Top-seeded Greenfield goes for its third consecutive WMass Div. 2 title tonight against Frontier. file photo/jerrey roberts

  • Senior Audrey Bresciano (left) hopes to pick up one more win over rival Frontier in her field hockey career tonight, as No. 1 Greenfield tangles with the Red Hawks for the WMass Div. 2 championship in East Longmeadow.

Staff Writer
Published: 11/8/2018 1:07:34 AM

For the fourth year in a row, the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Field Hockey Tournament comes down to Greenfield and Frontier Regional.

The perennial powerhouses renew their rivalry Thursday at 5:30 p.m., when they meet in the championship game at East Longmeadow High School. Top-seeded Greenfield (18-2) has won the past two sectional titles, including a 2-1 overtime victory in last year, while No. 3 Frontier (12-5-3) won the 2015 title.

“The intensity between both teams, that always comes out,” said Greenfield coach Erin Thayer, whose team got past No. 4 South Hadley, 2-1, with a pair of late goals in the semifinal round, Monday. “It’s a rivalry that’s been here since I played (at Greenfield) a long time ago. Tournament or not, there’s some spark that goes on between the two teams. I’m expecting a very competitive game.”

Frontier coach Missy Mahar also knows a little something about the ins and outs of the rivalry. In addition to coaching the program since 2002, she also played in the rivalry as a player for the Red Hawks.

“It’s definitely a big rivalry in a competitive way, but there’s also a lot of great sportsmanship there,” said Mahar. “I do think it’s an elevated level of intensity that comes along with it, for whatever reason.”

The history in this series has been relatively even over the past five years. In the 14 meetings since the start of the 2014 season, the series sits at 6-6-2, and Frontier has outscored the Green Wave by a 25-21 margin. Greenfield is 5-1-1 in the past seven games, including wins in both regular-season meetings this fall.

Greenfield has cruised through a season that saw it capture the Valley League regular-season title.

The Red Hawks beat Southwick, 5-0, in the semifinal round to advance to the championship game for the eighth consecutive year. Frontier lost a plethora of key contributors from last year’s team, and Mahar said their spot in the final was no guarantee when the season began.

“Walking into this season, we weren’t sure what it was going to bring,” Mahar said. “Losing ‘X’ amount of starters from last year, having JV players moving up to take on varsity roles, there was a lot of unknown. I think it took us a little time to figure things out from a coaching and team standpoint. But I’m so proud of the girls for sticking through it and working hard to get to where we are right now.”

The game will feature three of the top scorers in western Mass..

Greenfield’s senior tandem of Raegan Hickey (37 goals, 15 assists) and Audrey Bresciano (23 goals, 14 assists) set the table for the Wave. Both scored goals in the waning minutes of the semifinal win against South Hadley.

“I expect my leaders to help carry the younger kids we have on our roster,” said Thayer. “That’s that leadership and experience we have on the team. Those girls, and the kids who have played in big games in general, need to step up.”

Olivia Vecellio is the leading scorer for the Red Hawks, and if Frontier is going to pull the upset tonight, the junior midfielder will have to be heavily involved. She has 20 goals and 13 assists on the year.

“She kind of drives the bus for us,” Mahar said. “She’s a big component of our defense and our offense. She understands the game really well. She can see things before they happen and you can’t teach that.”

Both goalkeepers have had solid seasons, as Greenfield’s Samantha Smith has eight shutouts on the year and Frontier’s Skyla Burniske has amassed 11.

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