By Jim Sullivan Correspondent
Newburyport Daily News
---- — What goes around, comes around, and things came around for the Newburyport field hockey team (13-3-3) in the first round of the Division 2 North tournament at the Amesbury Sports Park yesterday.
The Clippers, taking on a team they eliminated from the tournament last year in 13th seed Wayland (5-6-5), found themselves the victim of their own postseason jitters in a 3-2 loss.
“I don’t think we played our game,” confessed Newburyport coach Lauren Hefferan. “We needed to sick with it. (Wayland) did and they outran us.”
The fourth-seeded Clippers started out strong, scoring in the first minutes of play, when Erika Rikeman juggled the ball directly in front of Wayland goalie Maddie Kiefer, then found her angle to bury the shot.
But the Warriors were about to show Newburyport just how tough they would be, scoring just 21/2 minutes later when Nina Price waded into the middle of a scrum to score past Clippers goalie Kendra Dow’s right side to tie things up at 1-1. That is where it would stay for the rest of the half.
Just as they did in the first half, the Clippers scored quickly in the second half when Paige Hefferan drew a penalty stroke and shot it past Kiefer’s right side to put Newburyport up 2-1 into the last minute of the game.
Wayland’s Alice D’Orlando began what would be a career night for her when she took advantage of another scrum that found Dow back on the turf. D’Orlando grabbed possession of the ball and sailed it in to send the game into sudden death.
Both teams would have their moments in overtime, but D’Orlando found herself in a one-on-one breakaway with Dow. D’Orlando won to give her team new life in the state tournament.
“The girls played solid, they wanted it, they played with heart,” said Wayland coach Shelly Fraser. “We’re a very good team. Don’t underestimate us. We played in a very good league with some very tough teams. We play hard and we play strong and the girls really brought it.”
Fraser was happy to see her team play tough and reverse the curse from last year.
“The girls just stayed strong, and they wanted it,” said Fraser. “They played through it, and they never gave up. And that’s a testament to the victory we took. Kudos to the other team. They just really played hard and fought hard. They gave us a good fight. It was a match-up from last year, and we just wanted to come back and play them strong this year. So it was nice to come back.”
Hefferan said she felt her team had lacked some of the fundamentals of the game at just the wrong time.
“We had a tough time with our stick-handling, we were coming in and diving,” said Heffernan. “We weren’t using our passing game. They would smash the ball and then run to it because they had the speed. When they got onto the ball, they were fast, and it was hard for us to defend.”
At the end of the day, Hefferan took a moment to watch as her girls shed a few tears and embraced, one after the other.
“It’s nice to see them all hugging,” Hefferan said of her squad. “Because we started out as a separated team. Then, as we got further into the season, we came together and started meshing as you can see it now. The seniors were great leaders.”