Field hockey: South Hadley holds off Frontier in key showdown

  • South Hadley senior Isabella Alcaraz, right, sends a pass under the stick of Frontier junior Lila Roche in the first half of the Tigers' 2-1 road win over the Red Hawks in S. Deerfield on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.

  • Frontier junior Lila Roche, left, gets past South Hadley junior Lily Provost in the first half of their Suburban League match in South Deerfield on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Frontier freshman Claire Kirkendall, left, pursues South Hadley senior Gabi Moroney in the first half of their Suburban League match in South Deerfield on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Frontier senior Emily DeMaio, left, sends a pass past South Hadley freshman Joanna Diaz-Saravia in the first half of their Suburban League match at S. Deerfield on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.

  • South Hadley junior Ashley Scott, right, gains possession from Frontier senior Shelby Clark in the first half of the Tigers' 2-1 road win over the Red Hawks in South Deerfield on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Frontier senior Maeve Huit, left, and South Hadley freshman Joanna Diaz-Saravia vie for possession in the first half of their Suburban League match at South Deerfield on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley junior Lily Provost, left, prepares to take a penalty corner on Frontier's goal defended by Lila Roche (outside net) and, in net from left, goalkeeper Ella Flanders, Emily DeMaio, Lily Markey and Maeve Huit in the first half of the Tigers' 2-1 road win over the Red Hawks in S. Deerfield on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.

Staff Writer
Published: 10/13/2021 8:10:06 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — It was a tale of two halves in the showdown between the South Hadley and Frontier field hockey teams on Wednesday. 

The first half was dominated by the Tigers, holding the Redhawks to just one corner and scoring a pair of goals to take a 2-0 lead into intermission.

The flip switched for Frontier in the second half, generating 12 corners and scoring an early fourth quarter goal to cut the deficit in half, but it could only get one shot past South Hadley goalie Kaitlyn Lynes as the Tigers squeaked out a 2-1 Suburban League victory. 

“When we play teams like Frontier, our in-season games have a level of intensity,” South Hadley coach Tara Cole said. “The first half we rose to the challenge but [Frontier coach] Missy [Mahar] is a great coach. Whatever she said at halftime and their adjustments, it worked. We didn’t execute the way we needed to in the second half.” 

The early lead proved to be a saving grace for South Hadley, which was unable to generate a shot on goal in the final 30 minutes of action. 

A big reason Frontier was unable to put more goals on the scoreboard was the play of the back line of the South Hadley defense. The Redhawks had three shots in the first half that looked to be heading for the back of the cage, but a Tiger defender was there to swat it away and out of danger. 

The second half was similar, with Frontier getting the ball in the circle though unable to finish the job. 

“Adjustments were made and we were able to create opportunities,” Mahar said. “We got our intensity up and played with more confidence and energy and we generated opportunities out of it. We were getting to the 25 in the first half but we weren’t finishing or penetrating. We had missed opportunities at the net.” 

Meg Carey opened the scoring for South Hadley, finding the back of the cage in the first quarter of action to give the Tigers the early 1-0 lead. 

South Hadley kept its foot on the gas, culminating in a goal from Gabi Moroney, who put the ball home after it bounced around in the circle. Sarah Wojnarowski picked up the assist on the goal. 

Despite the two goal lead, Cole knew the Redhawks would turn things on in the final half of play. 

“We knew they could come back,” Cole said. “We’ve been in that position as the underdog at the half and fought back for a win or tie. When we have the lead, we need to work on not being complacent. We’re used to being the underdog and now we have to find our footing with holding a lead and playing strong the whole game.” 

The third quarter didn’t produce any goals for Frontier, but its hard work was rewarded early in the fourth quarter. 

Lila Roche sent a ball into the circle off a corner that deflected off a pair of Tiger sticks. The ball skirted right to Rebecca Wallace-West, who smashed the ball into the cage to make it a 2-1 game. 

The Redhawks were awarded multiple corners late, but weren’t able to capitalize, with Lynes making eight saves in the win. 

“We can’t fault the effort,” Mahar said. “They turned it on and came back and got a goal and had opportunities to get another. They didn’t quit and that’s what I’m focused on. They played an entire 60 minutes of hockey.”

Going into the game, South Hadley was the No. 1 team in the MIAA Div. 4 Power Rankings while Frontier was No. 3. 

The Tigers took both regular season games against the Redhawks, but there’s always the chance for a third matchup in either the Western Mass. or state tournament. 

“This was a huge game for the state tournament,” Cole said. “We knew that this was huge. I’m happy we got the win. We’ll probably see them again and to beat a team three times in a season is tricky.” 

For Mahar, getting to play against top teams like South Hadley presents a great opportunity to learn and grow before the postseason. 

“South Hadley is well coached and a great team,” Mahar said. “It always brings this energy that’s like a tournament. Each game you learn from but this is how you want them to be.” 




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