Nov 17, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Three years ago, the Cazenovia field hockey team broke through and won the school’s first-ever state team championship in overtime over Pierson/Bridgehampton.
Those same two teams met again Sunday afternoon at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium with the same stakes, and again it went to overtime – but this time the Whalers prevailed in a 1-0 decision.
Not until late in the second extra period was it settled. Off a penalty corner with 32.8 seconds left in that extra period, Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Kasey Gilbride flung a back-handed shot past Cazenovia goalie Kimber Nourse, settling the long battle.
Even before this game started, Cazenovia had to shake off the effects of Saturday’s long, draining state semifinal (a 1-0, double-overtime decision over Barker) and beat the same P/B side that it toppled in 2010.
Of course, the Whalers had gone through their own long state semifinal, too, needing seven rounds of penalty strokes to get past Whitney Point. Thus, both sides had to battle possible fatigue, not to mention wet, windy conditions far removed from the calm and sunny warmth of the day before.
With the wind at its back, Cazenovia immediately went into attack mode, forcing three penalty corners in the first five minutes, but getting just one shot – a blast from Rachel McLaughlin that flew wide left.
Gradually, P/B began to organize its own attacks, only to run into fierce defensive resistance from the Lakers as the Whalers were unable to get any early shots on Nourse.
But Nourse did make a save on a penalty corner midway through the half, with defender Maddy Langey turning away another chance two minutes later. The pressure led Scheftic to call a time-out with 14:06 left in the half.
While it didn’t translate into many more Cazenovia opportunities, it did slow down P/B’s momentum for the rest of the half. Then, right before the break, the Lakers thought it had a go-ahead goal on a long attempt from the left side, but it was quickly waved off, and they were 0-0 going to the second half.
With another chance to go in front on a penalty corner less than three minutes into the second half, Sarah Liddell, open from a crisp set of passes, flung it wide, and other penalty corners in that sequence did not yield any shots at all.
Yet the Lakers kept making runs at the Whalers, gradually increasing the pressure even as it was playing into the wind and forcing P/B to take both of its time-outs to try and slow things down.
Time and again, the Lakers ran into a wall of Whaler defenders anytime it got near the box. When Cazenovia, denied on 12 penalty corners, earned a 13th with 4:36 left, it used a time-out to try and get it right, but once more the Whalers made the stop.
Near the end of regulation, Cazenovia got its own scare as P/B forced a penalty corner, and Nourse had to make a kick save with two minutes left, with another shot going inches wide.
So again they would go to overtime 0-0, an outright state title just one goal away. In the first of the 10-minutes, seven-on-seven extra periods, the Lakers controlled the early flow, but the Whalers forced a penalty corner in the last minute, only to not get a clean shot out of it.
Heading into the second OT period, the Lakers went all-out trying to win it, twice forcing penalty corners (running the total to 15 for the game), and the Whalers made yet another series of stops.
But as the period wound down, P/B started to make all of the runs, especially Gilbride, whose ball-handling skills had given the Lakers fits all afternoon. Fittingly, it was Gilbride who would make the final move and end the Lakers’ hopes of a third state championship in four years.
Despite the defeat, defenders Holly Gamlen and Colleen Stalder both earned spots on the All-Tournament team.
Gamlen and Stalder join Maureen Milmoe, Hannah Light-Olson and Hannah Dain as departing seniors.
But with the likes of Nourse, Rachel McLaughlin, Sarah Willard, Meredith Shephard, Maria Stalder, Ashley Kent, Sarah Liddell and Bella Wheeler returning in 2014, the Lakers are counting on another push for that third state title.