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Lawrence Academy Field Hockey Takes 2008 NEPSAC Class B Title

11/18/2008
Forty seconds into the game, Middlesex had already shot on the Lawrence goal, had been awarded a corner, and had taken another shot. Two minutes later they still had the Spartans backpedaling. It wasn’t until 26:15 that the ball was heading across the midfield toward the Middlesex goal—something it would do more often than not during the rest of the game.

After Katie Joumas scored on a feed from Emily Field at 18:02 in the first half, the Spartans showed no signs of losing focus or resolve. On the contrary, to a player the team seemed only more determined to build a cushion against the only team to have managed a tie against the Spartans during the season, and yet the players seemed remarkably loose, too. (At 15:22, as if to help the fans relax, too, players standing at the bench called out across the field to Chelsie Knapp, their tinfoil-helmeted cheerleader, "Chelsie, I can't hear you!")

The Spartans did not score again, but it was not for want of trying. Shot after shot, some long and some taken a point-blank range, whizzed by the goal or thudded against the goalie’s pads; one corner after the next, the girls were thwarted in their attempts to score.

Again and again, players took turns. Emily or Kelly Horan, captains Kat Spring or Brenna Morrissey, or Kerrin Sperry (a transfer from Middlesex this year) or Brook Simpson—they each rushed the goal, with Nicole Bartlett, Ashley Motherwell, and Danielle Doherty feeding them ammunition and occasionally taking runs up the field, too.

At 11:37, after Middlesex players had driven long balls toward goalie Melissa Puleo, Brooke Phinney whacked the ball from near the LA bench to find the back of the goal. The shot was called back for having been taken outside the circle, and a referee called a time-out to speak with the Middlesex coach about her objections. Not long after, at 8:43, the Middlesex goalie was called for covering the ball. Kat Spring took the penalty stroke, but that, too, was batted away. In the closing seconds of the half, the Zebras were awarded a corner but could not capitalize—though neither could the Spartans, who were accustomed during their undefeated season to scoring often when awarded such close-range opportunities.

Approximately 5 minutes into the second half, there was a flurry of shots at the Middlesex goal and the keeper went down—but the score still did not change. Regardless of how hard the Spartans pushed for the rest of the game, the Middlesex goal proved impregnable. By 10 minutes into the second half, it began to resemble a possession game for LA, with balls traveling wide and back toward defenders as the Spartans relied on more passes to use more of the field.

At 12:15, following two consecutive corners awarded to Middlesex, Kelly Horan was shown a green card. Seconds later, however, players were massing on the Middlesex half of the field. LA called a time-out at 10:00, following another of Emily Field’s sideline races up the field, and soon the Spartans were peppering the goal from all directions.

With 2:08 left to play, Middlesex called its last time-out. At 1:17, LA was taking yet another corner. The ball reached Kelly Horan, who patted it off to Kat Spring, whose shot collided with the goalie’s pads. Allena Dennis of Middlesex immediately began dribbling the ball at :57 but then it belonged to Kelly Horan, who scampered around Dennis and recovered her own ball before passing it to Kerrin Sperry, who pushed it on to Kat Spring. The shot went wide to the right. Another corner was awarded to LA with only 30 seconds left in the game. At 18 seconds to play, yet another LA shot was blocked by the goalie’s pads, but at that point there were only 5 seconds left to play.

Those final two minutes of play should give readers a taste of the pace of the action at field hockey games week after week this fall—the kind of play that resulted in the Spartans outscoring opponents, 85–10. In their final game of the season, possession was indeed nine-tenths of the law of victory, but the stalwart fans had seen the team rack up 18 wins that way to get a shot at—and score—the NEPSAC Class B title!

On Wednesday, November 12, the Spartans moved past Thayer Academy, 4–1, to reach the semifinal game against Berkshire School, whom they defeated convincingly, 8–2, on Saturday, November 15. Twenty-four hours and one goal later, the Spartans were crowned New England champs.

Article from the Lawrence Academy website.