Field Hockey: Frontier drops tough 1-0 decision to South Hadley

  • South Hadley’s Sarah Wojnarowski, right, holds off Frontier’s Lily Markey on Thursday in South Hadley. The Tigers won 1-0.

  • Frontier goalie Ella Flanders kicks away a Bella Alcaraz attempt Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • South Hadley goalie Kaitlyn Lynes dives to the ground to prevent Frontier’s Lila Roche, left, and Rebecca Wallas-West out of the goal Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • South Hadley’s Gabi Moroney controls the ball against Frontier’s Madison McKemmie on Thursday in South Hadley. Moroney scored the game-winner for the Tigers in the third quarter. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • South Hadley’s Megan Carey delivers a pass in front of Frontier’s Lila Roche on Thursday in South Hadley. The Tigers prevailed 1-0 STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/16/2021 9:04:53 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Gabi Moroney exhaled in relief when her slap shot skipped into the Frontier Regional net in the third quarter.

The South Hadley field hockey team pressured the Redhawks goal relentlessly for the entire first half but lacked any goals to show for it. They amassed six penalty corners in the first half and forced two saves from Frontier goalie Ella Flanders, but the first half remained scoreless.

Moroney changed that 3 minutes, 32 seconds into the second half. Lily Provost slid her a pass at the top of the circle, and Moroney clapped it into the back of the cage for the decisive goal in a 1-0 win for the Tigers on Thursday.

“We played there most of the game,” Moroney said. “It felt like ‘oh finally,’ after being down there a lot.”

South Hadley controlled possession for most of the game. It finished with 13 corners compared to three for Frontier. The Tigers also put 10 shots on target compared to the Redhawks’ two.

“We’ve been working hard connecting our sticks on the offensive line, knowing where people are now that we’re back to full field and now that we’re back to having corners,” South Hadley coach Tara Cole said. “That’s a big game changer.”

Field hockey was modified to omit corners last season due to COVID-19 restrictions. Teams also played seven vs. seven instead of the full 11.

“They’re starting to iron those kinks out,” Cole said.

South Hadley pressured Frontier from the opening faceoff, but the Redhawks’ defense absorbed it well in the first half. Flanders finished with 10 saves, and Frontier turned South Hadley’s forays aside before they reached critical areas. 

“Considering the amount of corners and shots that they had, Ella really stepped up and made some big saves in goal for being peppered,” Frontier coach Missy Mahar said. 

The Redhawks settled in offensively for a spell in the second quarter. That’s when they earned all three corners and put both shots on goal.

Other than that the Tigers ruled the midfield. 

“They had some players that had some very good stick work who just really took control of the field,” Mahar said. “We were playing catch up the whole time, and that doesn’t always work.”

Once South Hadley took the lead, Frontier showed the necessary urgency but perhaps not the connections needed to manufacture an equalizer. Shelby Clark made two strong runs up the right side of the field but didn’t have many options to pass to once she approached the goal.

“When we’re down a goal we have to utilize one another and make it a total team effort to try and get back on top,” Mahar said. “We can’t just rely on one person to do the job. At that point in the game we weren’t necessarily working as an entire team. We were trying to have individual runs and that doesn’t always work.”

Part of the Redhawks’ dysfunction came from missing starters and plugging players in unfamiliar roles. They switched to a different formation in the second half to shake things up but eventually shifted back to their original formation with a new approach.

“We were just trying different things to get down in their end and score goals,” Frontier’s Lila Roche said.

Frontier will have some time to iron out the details before they face Northampton on Monday.

South Hadley ended the week on a strong note, washing out the bad taste of a 5-0 loss to Longmeadow with a strong offensive showing. The Tigers next take the field at Greenfield on Monday.

“I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to respond to that, but they responded exactly how I wanted to,” Cole said. “Put that in the blinders and decide to go forward.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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