Olivia Vecellio’s goal lifts Frontier field hockey over Greenfield

  • Frontier’s Emily DeMaio, left, and Greenfield’s Kaylah Eggsware contend for possession in the first half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio, left, carries the ball defended by Greenfield’s Katie Haselton in the first half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Emily DeMaio, left, takes a shot defended by Greenfield goalkeeper Ainslee Flynn and Brielle Widelo in the first half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Grace Wesoloski, left, and Greenfield’s Katie Haselton vie for possession in the first half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield goalkeeper Ainslee Flynn dives to block a shot against Frontier in the first half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio, right, carries the ball defended by Greenfield’s Racquel Provost in the second half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio, left, carries the ball defended by Greenfield’s Katie Haselton in the first half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio takes a shot for a goal against Greenfield in the second half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio winds back to send the ball downfield against Greenfield in the second half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield’s Brielle Widelo sends the ball downfield in the second half against Frontier on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier goaliekeeper Skyla Burniske charges to block a shot from Greenfield’s Amber Taylor, right, in the first half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield’s Katie Haselton carries the ball downfield against Frontier in the second half Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/11/2019 11:12:45 PM

GREENFIELD — Fans in attendance at Veterans Memorial Field on Wednesday night may very well have gotten a sneak peek at the Western Massachusetts Division 2 field hockey championship.

If everything falls into place, Frontier Regional and Greenfield appear destined for a fourth straight meeting in the title game come November.

Round one went to the visiting Red Hawks, as senior Olivia Vecellio scored the game-winning goal 1 minute, 55 seconds into the second half to lift Frontier to a 2-1 victory over the Green Wave in Valley League action.

It was Frontier’s first win against Greenfield since September 2017, when the Hawks captured a 3-0 victory. Since then, the Wave had rattled off five straight victories in the series.

“Losing to (Greenfield) the past few years in (the) WMass (finals) was very difficult,” Vecellio said. “So to score the winning goal, come over here and beat them at night, it’s a good feeling.”

Frontier (3-0, 2-0) trailed 1-0 early, but rebounded to stay unbeaten.

“I was happy to see us stay composed and resilient after (the opening goal),” Frontier coach Missy Mahar said. “We didn’t go back on our heels after getting behind. We attacked and stayed hungry.”

Despite the loss, Greenfield head coach Erin Thayer was pleased with her team’s performance.

“We talk about getting better every day and that’s what we’ve been focusing on so far this year,” she said. “We executed well, recovered well. I can’t be upset with the loss because we played a good game.”

The Wave (2-2, 2-1) made an emphatic opening statement on their home field. Amber Taylor staked the hosts to a quick 1-0 advantage just 3:33 into the first half, when she backhanded a shot in traffic into the net off a Greenfield penalty corner.

Goalkeeper Skyla Burniske made some big saves early for the Red Hawks, and the defense in front of her managed to thwart a flurry of penalty corners midway through the first half.

Frontier turned the tides with 3:37 left before halftime, tallying on a penalty corner. Rebecca Wallace-West received a feed from Lily Spencer and sent a perfectly placed shot up high, just under the crossbar to bring the visitors back level at 1-1.

It stayed that way until Vecellio’s winner less than two minutes after intermission. On a breakaway, her shot squirted through the pads of Greenfield keeper Ainslee Flynn. The eighth grader tried to pounce on the ball, but it had just barely crossed the goal line to put Frontier ahead, 2-1.

“Just throwing it all out there,” Vecellio said. “It’s that type of game where we wanted the win badly so we threw it all out there. We did just enough.”

Flynn finished with six saves in net for the Wave, who were outshot by an 8-6 margin.

“She had (the ball), then it spun past her and she lost it just for a quick second which is unfortunate but those things happen,” Thayer said. “Ainslee has done a great job this year and she’s only going to get better. We’ll bounce back.”

Spencer had a strong game on the outside for Frontier, possessing the ball for large portions of the evening and spurring the team’s transition offense.

“She’s so willing to do whatever it takes for this team,” Mahar said. “She’s our utility player. I can use her anywhere and she just comes through and does the job.”

Frontier held a 7-6 edge in penalty corners. Both teams looked dangerous on those set pieces.

“Both teams worked hard,” Mahar said. “It’s always close with (Greenfield), no matter what they lost or what we lost every year. We just focused on bringing it and executing the plan. It’s always good to come here and get a win.”




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