Duseau powers Smith to 1-0 win over Frontier
Jen Adamites, left, of Smith Academy, and Ali Camille, of Frontier Regional, go to the ball Monday in Hatfield.
Smith Academy goalie Lauren Bradford, center, defends Rose Moscaritolo, second from right, of Frontier Regional, Monday in Hatfield. Looking on are, from left, Brenna Sicard, Ashley Higgins and Lauren Grondin.
Ashley Higgins, center left, of Smith Academy, moves the ball against Jordyn Roberts, center right, of Frontier Regional, Monday in Hatfield. Ali Camille, left, and Rose Moscaritolo look on.
HATFIELD — Danielle Duseau displayed Monday why she’s regarded by many to be western Massachusetts’ premiere field hockey player.
The Princeton University-bound Smith Academy senior drew a late penalty corner, then scored on the ensuing play to break a scoreless tie and give the Falcons to a 1-0 North Division victory over Frontier Regional School.
The Falcons (10-5-1 overall, 8-1-0 North) came into the game trailing Frontier (12-4-1, 8-1-0) by one game in the North standings, needing a win over the Red Hawks to have much of a chance of at least tying for the North crown. Frontier won the first meeting between the teams, 2-0, and since then had gone unbeaten in league play to prop itself into first place heading into Monday’s showdown. Smith Academy didn’t enter the game with an inferiority complex, though, because the Falcons knew they could beat the neighboring Red Hawks by virute of a 2-1 head-to-head win over the Red Hawks in an independent Oct. 12 game at the Columbus Day Tournament at Smith College. That made Monday’s game not only the regular-season rubber match, it also was the difference between winning the league outright for the Red Hawks, or sharing the league title.
After both teams battled through the first 55 minutes, it came down to Duseau, who is headed to the defending Division I national-champion Tigers next fall. With five minutes remaining, Duseau took a free hit near the sideline to the left and about 25 yards away from the Frontier net. She slowly began dribbling the ball and got the Frontier defenders to approach her. As she made her move past the first defender, Frontier coach Missy Mahar turned to her coaches, sensing what was about to happen.
“That’s what she is trying to do. She gets the defenders to react, then goes past them,” the coach said to the bench and her assistants.
Duseau was able to get past three defenders before she was fouled inside the circle, drawing the corner. Lauren Grondin played the ball in to the top of the circle and Duseau cradled the pass and unloaded on a shot that beat Frontier goalie Gwen Thayer through the five-hole with 4 minutes, 28 seconds to play.
“Lauren set it up great,” a smiling Duseau said after the game. “I was just lucky to have that great pass, and I was able to finish it.”
The corner also gave Duseau another chance to score after she was stoned by Thayer (12 saves) with no time left on the clock at the end of the first half. On that play, which was also a corner, Duseau got the ball at the top of the circle and fired a high shot to her left. Thayer dove across the crease and got a blocker on the ball to turn it aside and keep the game scoreless. Duseau said that she was also trying to shoot low on that play, but that Thayer made a great save nonetheless.
“I think I was trying to shoot low both times. That first one just got away from me,” she joked. “But Gwen is an amazing goalie and she made a great save.”
Frontier had a chance to take control of the game early with three corners in the first five minutes, but the Hawks were unable to capitalize on any of the chances. The Red Hawks went on to control play for the first 15 minutes of the game, but Smith Academy came back to dominate play in the final 15 minutes. Nearly the same held true in the second half, when Frontier had the better chances early before the Falcons took control late, leading to the eventual game-winner.
“We just sat back in those last seven minutes as they gained momentum, and we made some errors in those final seven minutes that they capitalized on,” Mahar said. “You can’t give Danielle lanes, and that’s what we did in those last seven minutes.
Baring a loss by either team in their league finales, the two squads will finish tied for the league crown. Smith Academy coach Dena Polverari said that if she had to share a league crown with any other team, she’s glad it’s Frontier and coach Mahar, who she is close friends with. She said that winning back-to-back games over the two-time defending WMass Division II champion Red Hawks will not only help the team moving forward, but is justification for all the hard work the players have put into getting better throughout the season.
“I wouldn’t say this is just about confidence moving forward, but it shows that it’s been many hours of work and it has paid off. These are two great, evenly matched teams that gave it their all and fortunately we managed to find the back of the net and we came out on top today.”
Lauren Bradford finished with eight saves to secure the shutout.