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Greenfield beats Frontier for third straight WMass field hockey title

  • Greenfield's Audrey Bresciano (10) dribbles down the sideline defended by Frontier's Cassidy Bardwell (16) in the first half of the WMass Div. 2 champshionship Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield celebrates their WMASS Div. 2 championship win over Frontier Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield celebrates a goal against Frontier in the first half of the WMass Div. 2 champshionship Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield celebrates their WMASS Div. 2 championship win over Frontier Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Olivia Vecellio (7) winds up to take a shot against Greenfield in the second half of the WMass Div. 2 champshionship Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Raegan Hickey (5) clears the ball away from the Frontier offense in the second half of the WMass Div. 2 champshionship Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield celebrates its Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship win over Frontier, Thursday night in East Longmeadow. It was a program-record third straight title for the Green Wave. Visit recorder.com for more photos. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Raegan Hickey (5) carries the ball up field against Frontier in the second half of the WMass Div. 2 champshionship Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield’s Raegan Hickey (5) and Frontier’s Maeve Huit (22) fight for possession in the first half, Thursday. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield celebrates their WMASS Div. 2 championship win over Frontier Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield celebrates their WMASS Div. 2 championship win over Frontier Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Audrey Bresciano (10) fires a shot against Frontier in the second half of the WMass Div. 2 champshionship Thursday night in East Longmeadow, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield celebrates its Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship win over Frontier, Thursday night in East Longmeadow. Staff Photo/Dan Little



Staff Writer
Thursday, November 08, 2018

EAST LONGMEADOW — Raegan Hickey and Audrey Bresciano didn’t stray too far from the trophy in the aftermath of Thursday’s WMass Division 2 championship. The Greenfield High School seniors are pretty much on a first-name basis with the award.

For the third year in a row, top-seeded Greenfield rode back to town as WMass champions. Olivia Joy netted an early goal and Bresciano tacked on some insurance, propelling the Green Wave to a 2-0 victory over No. 3 Frontier at East Longmeadow High School.

Greenfield (19-2) advanced to play in the MIAA Div. 2 Field Hockey Tournament, where the Wave will look to break through after two consecutive losses in the semifinals. Their opponent is still to be determined, but the semis are slated for Tuesday night at Tantasqua Regional High School in Fiskdale.

“It’s such a good feeling knowing how much we’ve done for the program and how much we’ve been able to accomplish here,” explained Bresciano, who scored in all three of Greenfield’s postseason victories and tallied the game-winning penalty stroke in overtime to beat Frontier in the 2017 finals.

It was the fourth year in a row that the two rivals met in the championship game. Frontier won in 2015, but Thursday night was Greenfield’s third straight title — a first for a field hockey program with decades of tradition.

“We never really talked about this moment throughout the season until we got into the postseason,” Greenfield coach Erin Thayer began. “We just did our thing and looked at the task at hand in front of us. There was a bull’s-eye on our backs, but I’m very proud of how the girls responded and came through it all. They played very, very well tonight.”

Frontier (12-6-3) was unable to beat Greenfield in three meetings this season, though the Red Hawks certainly weren’t an easy out. Led by junior midfielder Olivia Vecellio, who had a strong game in defeat, the squad had moments of promise but couldn’t solve the puzzle around the Green Wave net.

“Greenfield is an excellent team and they possess the ball so well,” Frontier coach Missy Mahar said. “They really shined on turf, you can see their skill. Coming in, we needed to create opportunities in the attacking 25. The fact we were able to do that at times was a positive. We had spurts of an attack but every time we’d get close, they’d wack it 60 yards downfield the other way.”

Greenfield got off to a dream start, scoring the game’s first goal just 1:37 into the opening half. Hickey started the play, sending the ball from the right side into the danger area in front of Frontier goalkeeper Skyla Burniske. A quick scrum for the ball ensued with several players involved, but it was Joy who made contact, driving a shot into the back of the net to give the defending champs a 1-0 advantage.

“Getting a goal (1:30) in, that really helps us get a positive mindset for the rest of the game,” said Hickey. “You can’t ask for a better start.”

Thayer was pleased with her team’s ability to assert themselves immediately.

“The last thing you want is to have to chase the game later on,” Thayer said. “So that was our game plan, to go out and put pressure right away, get a quick chance and score an early goal. They executed to perfection.”

Playing catch-up is never easy, particularly against a team as tough as Greenfield.

“It’s hard to bounce back from a quick goal like that,” explained Mahar. “You’re really up against it all game after that. Yes, there’s still plenty of time but it really knocks you down right away.”

Greenfield is particularly dangerous on corners, and the Wave cashed in on one for an insurance tally with 9:47 left before halftime. Freshman Maddy Kuchieski pounced on a loose ball that was nearly cleared on a corner, and she found Bresciano in front of the Frontier net. With her back to the goal, Bresciano spun and fired a shot that doubled the lead and put Greenfield in control before halftime.

Frontier’s best flurry came with 10 minutes left in the second half. Vecellio helped the Hawks win three consecutive corners, but Greenfield’s defense held strong. The Wave held Frontier without a shot on goal in the win, and Greenfield’s possession game in the second half did the job to secure a third straight crown.

“We put up a good fight and held strong in the second half,” lauded Mahar of her team, which loses seniors Caroline Moreau and Ivy Shattuck. “The girls still have a lot to be proud of and I told them that. They’re one of two teams left still playing in Division 2 and that speaks volumes. To get back to the final this year, it’s definitely a big accomplishment.”

Greenfield’s focus now heads toward the state semifinal, a round that hasn’t been kind to the Wave the past two years. They’ve been outscored 11-2 in those two losses, both coming to central Mass. champion Oakmont.

“Our mindset now is to go in there with nothing to lose,” Hickey said. “With how things went the last two years, we really don’t have anything to lose.”

Thayer said the mistakes of those two defeats should only serve to make her team a tougher out this time.

“I know we’ll be more mentally prepared,” she said. “Our goal all year has been to get to the state finals so we’re going to go out there and do everything we can to get there.”