Warriors make quick work of Senators, 5-0

  • Above, Mohawk’s Taylor Williams scores easily on a crossing ball against Mahar Thursday afternoon in Buckland, where the host Warriors dispatched Mahar, 5-0, in quarterfinal action of the WMass Division II Field Hockey Tournament. Below, Mohawk’s Ashley Walker works the ball upfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Players watch Mohawk 10 Ashley, not in picture, Walker's scoring shot against Mahar in Buckland on Thursday. November, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Mohawk Field Hockey Coach Lynn Hoeppner during game against Mahar in Buckland on Thursday. November, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Mohawk’s Ashley Walker winds up on for a shot that became a goal Thursday in Buckland, where her host Warriors eliminated Mahar with a 5-0 WMass Division II Field Hockey Tournament win. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Thursday, November 02, 2017

BUCKLAND — For a field hockey team minus a member with any postseason experience, Mohawk Trail Regional High School looked like seasoned corps of veterans Thursday afternoon.

The third-seeded Warriors put together a solid 60-minute effort and advanced to Monday’s WMass Division II semifinals with a 5-0 victory over sixth-seeded Mahar Regional School in a quarterfinal matchup.

Buoyed by the chants of “Booyah” from the sidelines — one of the cheers used by the team, which also appeared on a large sideline sign — the Mohawk offense peppered the Mahar goal throughout the game. It started right away with several Mohawk offensive chances that were thwarted by Mahar goalie Hannah Birch (15 saves) as well as a ball cleared off the line by Abby Henne. The result was Mohawk (14-4-1) outshooting the Senators, 20-2, including 13-1 in the first half when Mohawk built a 3-0 lead.

“We talked about the fact that we had already beaten them twice in the regular season, but beating a team three times in a row is different, and this is not the regular season,” Mohawk coach Lynn Hoeppner said. “We needed to step up, we needed to set the tone, we need to be focusing on what we needed to do today and to take the next step.”

The Warriors had not played a tournament game since 2013, which meant no current members had ever played in the postseason. Spectators would have been hard-pressed to tell, however, as the team was composed from the onset and played with a confidence, which Hoeppner said was not necessarily there at the beginning of the season.

“I think they believe in themselves now and that’s how they are going to play,” she said.

Mohawk sniper Ashley Walker had a pair of blasts turned aside by Birch in the opening 15 minutes of play as the game stayed scoreless. Then a nifty passing play by the Mohawk offense finally broke the ice. The ball was dribbled into the circle and fed to Lizzie Herzig, who was perched near the right post of the Mahar goal. When Birch moved over, Herzig slid the ball across the front of the cage to her sister, Sarah Herzig, who had moved to the front of the net for an easy tap-in. The two passes leading up to the goal were something that Walker explained was all part of the game plan.

“Today our main focus was short, quick passes and playing tight,” the senior captain said. “That was really beneficial, and getting into the circle and taking quick shots is important.”

Mohawk continued to pressure and struck for two more goals in the final six minutes of the half. The second goal came with 5 minutes, 33 seconds to play. Walker sent a pass to Taylor Williams, who was camped out on the doorstep, and she slapped the ball home. Then, with 1:05 to play in the first half, Abby Sinistore laid a pass to Walker at the top of the circle and Walker’s blast found the back of the net for the three-goal cushion at the break.

The second half was devoid of any dramatics, as Mohawk kept the Mahar offense in check. The Warriors added to their lead with 18:31 to play when Lizzie Herzig fired a shot that found its way through Birch’s pads an onto Williams’ stick. The Warrior forward tipped it home for her second of the day. Walker finished off the scoring with 4:15 to play with her second of the day. She followed up a rebound off a Birch save by one-timing the ball into the cage.

Emma French made a pair of saves for the shutout. Mohawk advanced to the semifinals, which will take place on Monday at Holyoke High School’s Roberts Complex. The Warriors will face second-seeded Greenfield High School (13-4-1), the defending WMass champions, and a team that Mohawk beat during the regular season in the teams’ only clash.

“It’s going to be a good game. We all know a lot of people on the Greenfield team, but when it’s game day, it’s game day,” Walker said.

The Senators (8-9-1) finished off a strong season in which the team was extremely young. Henne had a solid game defensively in the loss.