State Division 2 field hockey: Frontier Regional looks to beat Duke-bound goalie Piper Hampsch, Hopedale

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio winds back to clear the ball downfield during the WMass Div. 2 championship against Greenfield on Saturday night. Vecellio and the Red Hawks play in the MIAA Div. 2 semifinals, tonight at 5 p.m. against Central Mass. champion Hopedale. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Lila Roche, left, carries the ball downfield contested by Greenfield’s Kaylah Eggsware during the WMass Div. 2 final on Saturday. The Red Hawks seek their first trip to the state final since 2004 when they play Hopedale tonight. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/11/2019 9:05:09 PM

To get to its first state final since 2004, the Frontier Regional field hockey team will need to score against one of the best keepers in the state.

After beating Greenfield for their first sectional title since 2015, the Red Hawks will battle Central Mass. champion Hopedale at Grafton High School in the state semifinals at 5 p.m. Tuesday

The Blue Raiders (16-2-3) won their first sectional title since 1997, ending Oakmont’s three-year reign with a 3-0 win on Saturday.

Hopedale has Piper Hampsch protecting its cage. Hampsch is a six-year starter for the Blue Raiders, and is committed to play field hockey at Duke.

Hampsch is an aggressive keeper and will come out of the net often. Olivia Vecellio has some experience with Hampsch.

“I played with her in U.S. nationals,” Vecellio said. “She comes out really far. You have to get her on the ground. Piper is a great goalie.”

Frontier (16-2-1) has some experience with aggressive keepers, going against Samantha Smith of Greenfield before she graduated last year.

During Monday’s practice, Frontier had its keepers coming out as often as possible to mirror what Hampsch does on the field.

“She (Hampsch) reminds me of how Sam Smith used to play,” Frontier coach Missy Mahar said. “We can’t just go for that initial shot. We are going to have to look for the corners and the post players. Place the ball there.”

Through three playoff games, Hampsch and the Blue Raiders defense have allowed just one goal. That came in the sectional semifinals, where they edged Littleton, 2-1.

Mahar won her seventh sectional title as Frontier’s coach on Saturday, but she hasn’t been to the state championship since 2004. Her team has made it clear that this season’s effort is for her, with wristbands with the date of the state finals imprinted on them.

“They are so sweet,” Mahar said of her team. “We’ve had goals all season. One of those goals was to go to the state (final). Their goal was to reach that game. We don’t want to settle.”

Hopedale has some quickness and Zoe Athanasopoulas is a good playmaker for the Blue Raiders.

Anthanasopoulas had two assists for the Blue Raiders in the sectional final, with Carly Smith scoring twice and Sophia Garzoli adding another goal.

Smith scored twice in the Blue Raiders’ Central Mass. semifinal matchup with Littleton.

“Nice turf passing team,” Mahar said of Hopedale. “They have some fast players. But we haven’t seen a goalie like that that comes out that far. Our plan is to slow them down and cut down their give-and-go passes. Counter attack quickly and use our speed to our advantage on the forward line.”

Eighth grader Emma Gosselin had the only goal for the Blue Raiders in a 1-0 win over Uxbridge in the quarterfinals.

North champion Lynnfield (16-4) plays South champion Dover-Sherborn (18-1-2) in Braintree (7 p.m.) in the other state semifinal Tuesday.

The state final is Saturday at WPI.

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