Nov 18, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Weary from the season’s longest and most dramatic contest, the Liverpool field hockey team still found enough strength and character to make some history.
The Warriors outlasted Section II champion Niskayuna in Saturday’s state Class A semifinal at Bragman Stadium, requiring seven rounds of penalty strokes to prevail by a 3-2 margin after a 2-2 draw in regulation and overtime.
It marks the first time that Liverpool has ever advanced to the state championship game, to be played Sunday against defending champion Sachem East, who flattened Williamsville North 6-0 in the other semifinal.
Like the Warriors, Niskayuna was after a first-ever state finals appearance, and controlled large amounts of the game, including the entire first half, when Liverpool was unable to get any shots on the net.
Late in the half, the Silver Warriors’ pressure led to a penalty corner, and from the right side, Alexa Angerami, taking a feed from Carrie Hanks, cranked a shot from the right side past Liverpool goalie Meghan Evangelista.
That one-goal margin did not hold up for long. Just 52 seconds into the second half, Emma Lamison, totally bottled up in the earlier stages, found space on the right side and hit a hard shot that Silver Warriors goalie Emily King had no chance to stop.
Lamison wasn’t done. Drawing multiple defenders, she still fought through the resistance and, with 13:45 left, hit a shot to the middle that Morgan Thomas deflected into the cage.
Now ahead 2-1, Liverpool tried to hold on, but could not. Niskayuna initiated an all-out attack, and it paid off when Ali Frary’s hard shot from the right side glanced off the stick of Gabrielle Litz and beat Evangelista, tying it 2-2.
And there it would stay, despite numerous attacks by the Silver Warriors in the remainder of regulation and 20 minutes of sudden-death, seven-on-seven overtime play.
No matter what it tried, though, Niskayuna could not get that elusive game-winner. Evangelista stood up well, and so did defenders Kristin Hinkey, Jennifer Ryan, Corinna Castiglia and Jackie Chilbert, worked to exhaustion by all of the Silver Warriors’ pushes.
Exhausted, the two sides went to penalty strokes, scheduled for five per side. Liverpool had the first stroke in each round, and Lamison converted, as did Frary for Niskayuna.
But in each of the next three rounds neither side could make anything, shots either glancing off the goalies or entirely missing the net, only adding to the immense tension. Emily Burns, Marissa Penge and Chilbert all were unable to score.
But then Ryan beat King to put her side up 2-1 in the fifth round. Hanks, for the Silver Warriors, had to answer – and she did, her goal forcing yet another sudden-death round.
Lamison missed in the sixth round, but so did Hanks. Burns got her turn in the seventh round, and this time she beat King, leaving it up to Frary to keep the match going further.
One more time, though, Evangelista made the stop, and Liverpool found itself on the brink of a state title.