Barnes’ hat trick lifts Hawks back to finals

  • Olivia Vecellio, of Frontier Regional, celebrates her goal against Southwick during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School.

  • Olivia Vecellio, right, of Frontier Regional, moves the ball against Emma Barnard, of Southwick, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School.

  • Ella Flanders, right, of Frontier Regional, moves the ball against Emma Barnard, center, of Southwick, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School.

  • Lily Spencer, front left, of Frontier Regional, scores on Southwick goalie Clare Stratton, second from right, while defended by Gabrielle Houle, left, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School. Looking on are, from left, Emma Barnard, Emily DeMaio and Kamaris Desroches.

  • Frontier’s Lily Spencer, left, and Alyson Barnes celebrate Spencer's goal during the Red Hawks’ 5-0 win over Southwick in the WMass Division 2 semifinals Monday in Holyoke. staff photo/jerrey roberts

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio, right, and Alyson Barnes work the ball past Southwick goalie Clare Stratton Monday night. staff photo/jerrey roberts

Staff Writer
Published: 11/5/2018 11:22:58 PM

HOLYOKE — The streak of sustained tournament success continued for Frontier Regional School Monday night.

The Red Hawks advanced to play in the sectional title game for the eighth consecutive year, dispatching No. 2 Southwick, 5-0, in the WMass Div. 2 Field Hockey Tournament semifinals at the Roberts Sports Complex on the campus of Holyoke High School.

Third-seeded Frontier (12-5-3) will look to capture the program’s first sectional crown since 2015, when it plays top-seeded Greenfield High School (18-2) for the title Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. at East Longmeadow High School.

“It boils down to the girls that have come through the program,” said Frontier coach Missy Mahar of her team’s eighth trip to the WMass finals. “It’s really a credit to the players, they’re the ones who go out there and year after year have been successful.”

The Red Hawks got stronger as the night unfolded, overcoming a shaky first half to dominate after intermission. Alyson Barnes finished with a hat trick, all three of the goals coming in the second half, and Lily Spencer added another to help jumpstart a Frontier offense that clung to just a 1-0 advantage at intermission.

“It was a matter of getting into the flow of the game,” explained Mahar of the second-half effort. “We just had to settle down. They were playing nervous and a little panicked, to be honest. They just had to execute the way they have all season and we finally capitalized in the second half.”

It was the first hat trick of the season for Barnes. The sophomore’s big night came at a most opportune moment — on the big stage.

“It feels great. We’re all so excited to get back (to the finals) because a lot of people thought we weren’t supposed to be here at the beginning of the season,” Barnes offered.

After dealing with some persistent early pressure from the Rams in the game’s first 10 minutes, Mahar called timeout to settle the troops.

“We just talked about how we had to get our act together,” Barnes recalled of the meeting.

Frontier got that all-important first tally just moments later. With 13:01 remaining, Olivia Vecellio, who had a four-point night in the victory, did her thing, weaving through traffic and carving space to get off a blast about 10 yards away from the Southwick goal. Her rocket, the first shot of the night by either team, had eyes for the back of the net, thumping in to give the Hawks a 1-0 advantage. It was Vecellio’s 20th goal of the season.

With momentum sitting there for either team to snatch after halftime, Frontier struck for a huge marker just 2:49 into the second frame. It was a sign of things to come. The play began with another Vecellio bullet, this time from what looked to be an impossible angle to the near post guarded by Southwick goalkeeper Clare Stratton. Barnes was there for the deflection, and she tipped it just inside the post to double the advantage and put the Hawks in control at 2-0.

“Getting goals always helps settle everyone,” said Barnes.

That strike was just the beginning, as Spencer made it 3-0 when she finished off a perfect passing combination with 10:32 remaining. Barnes got it going, sliding the ball across to Emily DeMaio, who fed Spencer in front. The junior did the rest, sweeping the ball into the open net.

“Once they saw we were able to score, it was, ‘Let’s do this,’” Mahar said. “We saw some emotion finally.”

Barnes made it 4-0 just 3:13 later, finishing off a feed from Vecellio, and she capped the hat trick less than two minutes later on another assist from Vecellio, her third helper, to put a bow on the semifinal victory.

The way the Red Hawks finished the game was in stark contrast to how things began. It was all Rams early, as the Bi-County League champions earned three corners in the first 10 minutes of action with the field heavily slanted toward Frontier’s cage.

“Credit to Southwick,” Mahar began. “They came out and were relentless right off the bat. It was huge to keep them off the board. Our corner defense stepped up.”

It was the first meeting between Frontier and Southwick (16-3-1) since the 2016 season-opener. Frontier also beat Southwick in the 2014 Div. 2 championship game.

Frontier held Southwick without a shot in the second half after putting just one on goalkeeper Skyla Burniske in the first half. The Hawks finished with seven shots in the second half, scoring on four of them. The Rams wound up with a 7-4 edge in corners, though six of the seven came before halftime.

The shutout was Frontier’s fourth in a row and 11th overall on the season. The Hawks haven’t allowed a goal since a 3-0 loss to Greenfield on Oct. 19.

Frontier 5, Southwick 0

Frontier

1

4

5

Southwick

0

0

0

Goals: (F) Barnes 3, Vecellio, Spencer.

Assists: (F) Vecellio 3, DeMaio.

Shots: Frontier 8. Southwick 1.

Saves: (F) Burniske 1. (S) Stratton 3.

Corners: Frontier 4. Southwick 7.




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