Thursday, December 5, 2013
By Matt DiFilippo email@example.com
FAIRFIELD — Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Our strength grows out of our weakness.” Emerson didn’t have Cony high school or field hockey in mind when he said that, but that’s what Cony field hockey has done this fall.
The Rams have around 20 healthy players in their program, which means the junior varsity games are 7-on-7 and the varsity starters stick around to play as JV substitutes. But what the Rams lack in numbers, they make up for with conditioning, and that may have been the difference Saturday afternoon as Cony edged out Lawrence, 2-1, behind two goals by junior Arika Brochu.
“Playing two games, as opposed to other teams playing only one a day, I think it definitely gets us in better shape,” Brochu said. “It’s more of like a team camaraderie thing, I think.”
The win moved Cony (7-6-1) into fifth place in the Eastern A standings, while Lawrence is fourth and Oxford Hills is sixth. Those places could all change, depending on the result of Monday’s game between Oxford Hills and No. 3 Mt. Blue.
Lawrence (8-5-1) was 8-1-0 before hitting the toughest part of its schedule. Looking for a win to enter the playoffs on a high note, the Bulldogs played beautifully over the first 16 minutes. Crystal Crowell moved to a back/midfield position and played her best game of the season, Abby King was leading the defense, and Kapriece Dahms was creating scoring chances with her long passes.
The Bulldogs had seven penalty corners in the first 17 minutes, and scored on a corner when Alexis Chamberlain passed ahead to Julia Lawrence for a goal with 17:33 left in the half.
Cony tilted the field back to even after that, and the Bulldogs couldn’t tilt it back. With 6:49 to play in the half, Brochu scored on a nice sweep shot from the right side to tie things up at 1-1.
“I think it went through about an inch (of space),” Brochu said, laughing. “It just got through that little sliver.”
In the second half, the Rams looked like a team that never wanted the game to end. The Cony players screamed whenever a call went their way, and everyone within earshot got to hear Cony coach Al Brochu yell, “Yeah!” over and over.
The Rams got a stretch of four corners in less than two minutes. On the fourth, Arika Brochu (Al’s daughter) took a cross shot from the right side, near the edge of the circle. The ball caromed off the stick of a Lawrence defender and went back inside the right post for a 2-1 Cony lead.
Lawrence had a few more chances, losing one when Lauren Watson’s drive to the left went unanswered because no one was on the post for the Bulldogs, and one because of a nice save by Cony goalie Lindsay Lapierre. Cony’s defense, led by Becca Coniff, also helped keep the ball away from Lapierre for most of the second half.
“(This game) sets the pace for the postseason,” said Al Brochu, who is filling in as Cony coach while Holly Daigle is on maternity leave. “We’ve been kind of slow winding up into now, and we had a bunch of injuries that we’ve recovered from. So I think now we’re where we need to be.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243