Saturday, December 7, 2013
By Matt DiFilippo firstname.lastname@example.org
FAIRFIELD -- Only a handful of field hockey teams in the state could play Skowhegan as competitively as Lawrence did Friday afternoon. For now, the Bulldogs will have to be content with that.
Against most teams, Skowhegan simply overwhelms the opposition. Against teams like Lawrence, the Indians wait for an opening, and attack. The result is the same as it has been for 68 games and counting: A Skowhegan victory, this time by a 4-0 score.
"I think we really needed this game today, desperately," Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. "Our backs hadn't had much play. Lawrence is a good team. They're nice, and fast, and hustle. We made a lot of adjustments as the day went on, especially in dropping and in covering positions. If you could have seen (us) in April, it's a metamorphosis. Every game lately, we're just getting better and better."
Renee Wright scored two goals for Skowhegan (11-0-0), including a back-breaker with 5.3 seconds left in the half off a pass from Alanna Wacome that made it a 3-0 lead at the break. Rylie Blanchet and Brooke Michonski each added a goal and an assist, and Allison Lancaster assisted on the first two goals.
In particular, Skowhegan seized on the defensive breakdowns that left Michonski and Blanchet open behind the defense. On Skowhegan's first goal, just 6:39 into the game, Lancaster drove the ball into the circle on a penalty corner, and Wright was open in front of Lawrence goalie Emily Tozier. Wright got to the ball a split second before Tozier, and pushed it in for a 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs (8-3-0) disputed the call that led to the corner, claiming a player whistled for a five-yard infraction was not impeding the play, but there were more goals to come. Skowhegan's second goal was a beautiful play, as Lancaster noticed that both Michonski and Blanchet were unmarked deep in the circle. Lancaster sent a bullet from the right side to Michonski, who was alone on the left post. Tozier had no choice but to over-commit to that side to cut off the shot angle, so Michonski quickly dropped a pass to Blanchet to make it 2-0.
"It's just communication," Lawrence coach Lisa Larrabee said. "We play a zone defense in the corner. The second goal was from the right, crossed to the left, and crossed again. It was a really pretty second goal."
Tozier made eight saves in the first half, and Lawrence had some offensive opportunities when the score was 1-0 and 2-0. Those chances were cut off by Skowhegan's defense.
"Tammy Veinotte is the best defense coach around," Doughty said. "Tammy works with those three backs. I think it was that fortunate that our backs were on this end in the beginning, because they hadn't seen (much) play all year, and she was down here to make some adjustments she wanted to make."
Michonski had the only goal of the second half. Lawrence got its only penalty corner with under 30 seconds to play in the game, but Lauren Watson's drive from outside the circle bounced off the pads of Skowhegan goalie Leah Kruse and was deflected away.
"I'm proud of my kids," Larrabee said, "because we came off of a beautiful game against Messalonskee that we lost in overtime, and to bounce back and face Skowhegan the way we did.... You saw the second half. If it's a 1-0 (second) half, then that's what we have to force it in the first half. We had a couple miscommunications. Skowhegan's a beautiful team, and they're deadly on corners."
Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243