Oct 09, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Perhaps the Onondaga High School League field hockey championship isn’t leaving Cazenovia after all.
Three weeks after seeing East Syracuse-Minoa end its long league unbeaten streak, the Lakers met the Spartans again on Tuesday afternoon – and playing at home, the Lakers produced a different outcome, edging the Spartans 1-0 on Rachel McLaughlin’s goal late in the second half.
“This is huge for us, a real confidence booster,” said Cazenovia head coach Lorraine Scheftic.
With that win, Cazenovia, with an 8-1 league mark, moved back into first place in the OHSL, ahead of ESM’s 9-2 mark that included a defeat to Weedsport on Sept. 17, just one day before its 2-1 overtime win over Cazenovia.
What that loss, and this game, had in common was a grass field. Cazenovia’s natural home surface at Burton Street Elementary School is a setting where ESM, who has an artificial turf at Spartan Stadium, has never found a total comfort zone.
Also, when Cazenovia played ESM that first time, forward Ashley Kent was out with an injury, and McLaughlin, nursing a hamstring injury, played, but at far from full strength.
Both of them, along with the other Lakers, would attack the Spartans hard from the start in the rematch. But ESM was just as aggressive, leading to a swift first-half pace and lots of scoring opportunities on both sides.
In fact, before they hit the halftime break, Cazenovia would pick up six penalty corners and ESM five, but it remained 0-0. The Lakers kept getting thwarted by the athletic work of Spartan goalie Rachel Aird, who was on her way to 11 saves.
This back-and-forth battle continued deep into the second half. Yet even when ESM gained penalty corners, the Lakers’ defense, anchored by seniors Maureen Milmoe and Holly Gamlen, rarely allowed for clean shots at goalie Kimber Nourse, who only had to make one save.
Gradually, as the game went into the latter stages of regulation, the Lakers’ attack picked up, especially from McLaughlin, who tore into the Spartans’ back line, forcing opportunities.
Then, with 2:27 to play and the two sides still at 0-0, McLaughlin positioned herself close to the net, and amid a scramble, she took a pass from Sarah Willard and fit a shot just past Aird to put Cazenovia in front.
Now trailing, ESM attacked hard and drew a penalty corner in the final minute. Amy Loder, whose overtime goal beat the Lakers in their first meeting, got what looked to be an open shot – but Gamlen scrambled to Loder and blocked the shot, thwarting the Spartans’ last chance.
Cazenovia still did not have the OHSL title locked up, for it would need to win at Weedsport on Thursday afternoon to again finish on top of the league standings – and do so without McLaughlin, who sat out with an injury.
Taking full advantage of this, Weedsport started fast and never let the Lakers recover, prevailing in a 2-1 decision that could end up creating a three-way tie for the league title among Cazenovia, Weedsport and ESM.
Just 1:40 into the game, the Lakers found itself trailing 1-0 as Alexis Short scored for Weedsport off a feed from Kaitlyn O’Connell. Seven minutes later, that deficit doubled to 2-0, Short again finding the net as Madeleine Ouderkirk got credit for the assist.
Only then did Cazenovia begin to settle down and, midway through the first half, got on the board with Maria Stalder’s goal, created off a penalty corner as Hannah Light-Olson earned the assist.
Though it had plenty of time to pull even, the Lakers could not do so. Weedsport continued to attack, earning a series of penalty corners early in the second half that Cazenovia turned away, and its defense thwarted every Laker thrust, including a penalty corner in the final 90 seconds.
The defeat dropped Cazenovia’s overall record to 11-4, with just one regular-season game remaining on Tuesday against visiting Port Byron.