By Dan Guttenplan Sports Editor
Newburyport Daily News
---- — AMESBURY — Newburyport field hockey coach Lauren Hefferan implored her players to push themselves through pain and fatigue last night in honor of all who have fought breast cancer during a game against Pentucket
Hefferan knows the pain and fatigue associated with breast cancer well. She is in remission after being diagnosed and treated for the disease in the last year.
Hefferan’s players answered her call, earning a 2-0 victory over Pentucket at Amesbury Sports Park in the annual Play 4 the Cure game, a benefit for the Susan Komen Foundation for breast cancer research.
“Our fight for this game was all about (Hefferan),” said Newburyport captain Kate McCauley, who scored the first goal. “She’s in remission now. She’s a survivor. I think that really drives me to play hard, to push myself. She was telling us, ‘Push yourself past fatigue. Play with everything you have.’ She inspires me personally.”
Hefferan was diagnosed with breast cancer early last fall, just at the start of the field hockey season. She chose to continue working as the head field hockey coach, only missing an occasional practice for a doctor’s appointment. The schedule was draining, but she gathered energy from her players, who repeated as Cape Ann League Division 1 champions with a 16-2-2 record.
“The speech before the game was for the girls to dig down deep,” Hefferan said. “If they were tied or couldn’t breathe, push through it. The people who have been through the fight with breast cancer have been through a lot worse. Dig down deep with courage and strength.”
This season, the Clippers are again tourney bound with a record of 11-2-2. They sit in second place behind Masconomet (15-0-2) in the CAL Division 1 standings.
Those two teams will square off tomorrow (3:45 p.m.) at Amesbury Sports Park.
“Masco’s ahead of us,” Paige Hefferan said. “They’re undefeated. We want to beat Masco, maybe bring them down a little bit, too. And we want to stay where we are.”
Newburyport maintained its position in the CAL last night thanks to goals by McCauley and Eliza Filipancic. McCauley scored late in the first half off of a short corner.
“The first goal was unfortunate,” Pentucket coach Ruth Beaton said. “I thought she was out of the circle, but the official said it was tipped in. I knew we were capable of playing with them. I didn’t feel it was a 2-0 game. The score didn’t reflect how competitive it was. We played with confidence in the second half.”
Pentucket controlled play for the majority of the second half, applying constant pressure on the Newburyport defensive end. Filipancic’s goal came with only 10 seconds remaining in the game.
“I felt we all came together on the defensive side,” Newburyport goalie Kendra Dow said. “We wanted to push through everything and make sure there were no mistakes. There was a ton of pressure being up by one goal, but we had to fight through and win this for us, our coach, and the cancer survivors.”
Both teams wore pink socks in honor of breast cancer awareness month. Newburyport also wore pink jerseys. The teams released pink balloons into the sky at the conclusion of the game.