Trilogy on tap for Wave-Oakmont

  • Greenfield's Raegan Hickey carries the ball up field against Frontier in last week’s WMass Div. 2 title game. Hickey and the Green Wave meet central Mass. champ Oakmont tonight at 5 p.m. in the MIAA Div. 2 semis. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Katie haselton (2) takes a shot against Mahar in the second half Wednesday afternoon in Greenfield, Oct. 31, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Mady Kucheski (7) fires a shot in for a goal against Mahar in the first half Wednesday afternoon in Greenfield, Oct. 31, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Audrey Bresciano (above) and Raegan Hickey (below) will both be instrumental tonight if the Green Wave is going to beat Central Mass. champion Oakmont in the MIAA Division 2 semifinals at Tantasqua in Fiskdale at 5 p.m. The seniors will be trying to send the Wave to the finals for the first time during their current run of WMass titles. fILE PhotoS/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Raegan Hickey has scored 37 goals this season and is the all-time leading scorer for the Green Wave. FILE Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 11/12/2018 11:34:49 PM

The state semifinal round has been a house of horrors for local field hockey teams.

Despite an abundance of sectional championships, Franklin County squads have not fared particularly well when reaching the state tourney. In fact, it’s been 10 years since a local team won an MIAA Div. 2 semifinal, when Mohawk defeated Quaboag before falling to Hopkinton in the 2008 state final. 

In those terms, the deck is stacked against Greenfield High School. But don’t tell that to the Green Wave. After capturing the program’s third consecutive WMass Div. 2 championship last week with a 2-0 win over Frontier, Greenfield looks to make history tonight when it tangles with central Mass. champion Oakmont (12-2-6) at 5 p.m. at Tantasqua Regional High School in Fiskdale.

Greenfield (19-2) is the last local team to win a field hockey state championship. Led by Kelly Doton, Jenna Luippold and Sarah Marchefka on offense, Jen Mascavage, Mindy Pearson and Heather Creek on defense, and Kelly Wade in net,  the Wave defeated Watertown, 2-1, to win the 1999 crown. 

“I feel like the pressure is off now,” offered Greenfield coach Erin Thayer. “We’re just going to go out there and play. These are bonus rounds in our minds. We definitely want to get to the state final and fight for the state title, but we’re not looking to do anything different than we have all season long.”

For the third year in a row, Greenfield has Oakmont standing in its way for a spot in the Div. 2 final. The previous two meetings? Well, not exactly fun trips down memory lane. Two years ago, the Spartans picked up a 4-1 victory. A year ago, Oakmont made it two in a row when it cruised to a 7-1 win. Third time’s the charm?

“We haven’t even really talked about last year’s game because it was such a mess,” Thayer said. “I think there were so many things wrong with that game. Other than to remind them of a few things, we haven’t talked all that much about it. But for the girls, I think losing that game has made them even more pumped. They were so pumped that Oakmont won (the central Mass. title). My seniors want to avenge those losses.”

The Spartans, seeded fourth in the CMass Div. 2 field, knocked off top-seeded Quaboag in the semifinals before beating No. 7 Uxbridge, 4-1, over the weekend in the title game. Oakmont is no stranger to the state tourney, winning six sectional championships in the past decade.

“They have a couple of girls who are their big scorers so we kind of have our eyes on those kids,” Thayer said. 

Sophomore Irini Stefanakos is a familiar face for Oakmont. As a freshman last year, she notched her first career hat trick in her team’s 7-1 win over Greenfield. Stefanakos scored in the CMass title game against Uxbridge, as did seniors Rachael Lemay, Kelsey Rasmuson and Kaitlynn Paine. Sam Gastonguay is the starting goalkeeper, and she made six saves to earn the win between the pipes.

“I’m not surprised they won,” Thayer said of the Spartans.

From the beginning of the season through last week’s WMass final, Greenfield carried the weight of expectation that they were supposed to win another title. Now that her team has accomplished that feat, Thayer said there’s been a collective sigh of relief throughout the program.

“I feel like I’ve seen us kind of take a deep breath a little bit,” she said. “We got (the WMass title) under out belts, did what we had to do. We felt that pressure a little bit, all season long. So there’s definitely that sense of relief.”

Despite graduating eight players from last year’s team that eventually lost to Watertown in the state final, Oakmont lost just two games this fall. Those came to Nashoba (3-0), the CMass Div. 1 champion, and Shrewsbury (3-1) in the regular-season finale. The Spartans are certainly versed in close games, as they tied six times on the year.

“We’ve talked on and off all season about if and when we get to the next level, (Oakmont) is the caliber of team we’re going to see,” Thayer said. “At this level, there isn’t going to be a team that isn’t tough to play. You can’t not show up to play and expect good things to happen. We’ve seen that first-hand (last year).”

The Green Wave have scored a whopping 109 goals this season. Raegan Hickey has 37 of them, followed by Audrey Bresciano with 24. The seniors have had their hands in just about every postseason tally for the Green Wave, as the team has outscored its opponents 14-1 in the three victories. Katie Haselton (13 goals) and Olivia Joy (12) are also double-digit goal-scorers this fall.

“My strongest players need to do their jobs,” said Thayer. “If they can do the job they need to do, everyone else will do the job they need to do.”

Goalkeeper Samantha Smith has four shutouts in her last seven games. In last year’s loss to Oakmont, Smith was just a few games into her season after missing the bulk of the year to an ACL tear. Thayer is expecting a big outing from her senior backstop.

“She’s pumped and ready to go,” the coach said.

The winner of tonight’s game will advance to play in Saturday’s Div. 2 championship against the winner of the nine-time defending state champion Watertown and Dennis-Yarmouth. That semifinal is also tonight at Braintree High School. The final is set to be played at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

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