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Frontier blanks Tigers, moves to another final

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio (7) takes a shot through South Hadley defenders in the first half of a 3-0 WMass Division II field hockey semifinal win over South Hadley Monday at Roberts Field in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s McKenzie Patterson (6) takes a shot for a first-half goal Monday in a 3-0 WMass Division II field hockey semifinal win over South Hadley Monday at Roberts Field in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Mckenzie Patterson (6) and Lauren MacDonald (12) celebrate Patterson’s goal in the first half against South Hadley on Monday in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio (7) carries the ball downfield between South Hadley defenders Emma Rahilly (16) and Breanne Foley (19) in the first half on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Lauren MacDonald (12) clears the ball downfield in the first half against South Hadley on Monday in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio (7) winds up for a shot in the first half against South Hadley Monday in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Mckenzie Patterson (6) sprints on a breakaway defended by South Hadley’s Jillian Ayers (5) in the second half on Monday in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Amelia Sobieski (18) dribbles the ball downfield in the first half against South Hadley on Monday in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Emma Wesoloski (14) takes a shot in the first half against South Hadley Monday in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Olivia Vecellio (7) hugs goalie Skyla Burniske after winning against South Hadley on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Monday, November 06, 2017

HOLYOKE — Make that five straight for Frontier Regional School.

McKenzie Patterson’s first-half goal and a pair of second-half strikes from Olivia Vecellio lifted the Red Hawks to their fifth consecutive WMass Division II Field Hockey Tournament title game with a 3-0 victory over South Hadley High School in the semifinals Monday night at the Roberts Complex.

Less than two hours after Greenfield High School clinched its third straight championship berth, Frontier followed suit for its fifth consecutive appearance. The Red Hawks are 2-2 in those title games, including a victory over Greenfield in 2015, and a loss in strokes in last year’s game.

The top-seeded Red Hawks (14-2-3) controlled possession for much of the game but fourth-seeded South Hadley (10-8-2) had a bend-but-don’t-break attitude about its defense and remained in the game until late in the second half when a pair of goals allowed the Hawks to pull away and clinch the win.

Frontier controlled much of the first half but had been unable to find the back of the net over the first 20 minutes. The Hawks had chances, including a pair of blasts from Vecellio on corner plays that were kicked out by South Hadley goalie Brittany Cote.

The Hawks finally broke through with 7 minutes, 55 seconds to play in the first half and it came after more sustained pressure by Frontier. That led to a corner and Emma Wesoloski inserted the ball to the top of the circle, where Patterson was waiting. The senior uncorked a shot that got through a crowd and into the net.

“I’ve been on this team for so long and I know how it goes,” Patterson said of the importance of getting the early lead. “I knew we would get more corner opportunities, so I wasn’t really thinking about anything, I just shot it and it went in.”

If Frontier had any jitters, it didn’t show it but Vecellio said the goal by her teammate helped shake off any nerves the Hawks may have been feeling.

“Just having one goal, it made less tension on the team, we were communicating more, and it started in the backfield and went right up to our forwards,” the sophomore said. “It was a total team effort tonight.”

Despite the 1-0 halftime lead, Frontier coach Missy Mahar was not content. Frontier and South Hadley were meeting for the third time this season, and the last time out the Red Hawks had a 2-0 lead that South Hadley was able to erase and the teams wound up tying 2-2.

“We know that South Hadley is a team that plays a full 60 minutes,” Mahar said. “That’s one of the things we talked about coming into this game: No matter what, we our playing hard the entire time.”

Frontier remained in control throughout much of the second half and Vecellio was finally able to ice the victory with a pair of goals just over four minutes apart. Vecellio made it 2-0 with 11:50 to play and again it was on a corner, this time when Wesoloski inserted the ball to the sophomore, who fired it home from the top of the circle. Then, with 7:27 to go, Vecellio dribbled into the circle and unleashed another blast that deflected off the South Hadley goalie and into the net for a 3-0 lead.

One reason for Frontier’s edge in possession was the play of Frontier’s Kimmie Asseng, who shadowed South Hadley sniper Kayla Carleton throughout the game and never allowed the junior to be much of a threat.

“That was Kimmie’s role today,” Mahar explained. “We knew Carleton has wheels and I envisioned her penetrating our defense and I knew we couldn’t allow that. No better girl to go to then Kimmie. She is fierce and you give her an assignment and she wants to complete it. She was an unsung hero tonight.”

Frontier goalie Skyla Burniske was not too busy in earning the shutout win but did have to make two saves, including a big kick save late in the first half to preserve the one-goal lead at the time.

Brittany Cote finished with seven saves in the loss.