By Dan Guttenplan
---- — AMESBURY — Caroline Marino had one year earlier experienced the heartbreak stemming from a sudden-death overtime defeat in the state tournament when she heard the final horn sound yesterday afternoon with her Newburyport field hockey team locked in a 1-1 tie with Marblehead yesterday.
Facing a potential overtime period for the second year in a row, the Clippers were granted one untimed short corner due to a rule that a game cannot end on a defensive penalty in the circle.
Marino, a junior forward, took a feed from Meghan Stanton and deposited her shot in the back on the cage, giving the seventh-seeded Clippers (11-5-3) a victory over 10th-seeded Marblehead (10-7-2) in the opening round of the Division 2 North state tournament at Amesbury Sports Park.
The Clippers will visit second-seeded Manchester Essex Saturday night at 7 p.m. in a quarterfinal matchup.
It was Newburyport’s first victory in the state tournament since 2011. Last year, the Clippers fell to Wayland, 3-2, in overtime in an opening-round matchup.
“Obviously, I was nervous,” Marino said. “Last year, we played (7 on 7) in overtime, and unfortunately we lost. I didn’t want to lose this one. I wanted to go farther than last year. It was definitely nerve-wracking.”
Newburyport led in just about every statistical category — shots, short corners, time of possession in the opposing team’s defensive end — heading into the final minutes of the game, but still faced the possibility of seeing its season end on one shot in overtime.
The Magicians capitalized on a quick strike in the closing seconds of the first half, after spending much of the first 25 minutes in their own defensive end. Suzanna McCarthy broke a scoreless tie for Marblehead, putting Newburyport’s season on the brink of extinction.
“They got down to our end, took one shot, and scored,” Newburyport coach Lauren Hefferan said. “I told the girls at halftime they deserved this game, and they needed to step up. They did. They passed better, moved forward with the ball, and got on their goalie.”
Newburyport’s Michaela Corvi tied the game with 9:16 remaining in the second half, giving noticeable life to her team. The Clippers spent much of the remainder of the game taking shots and drawing penalties deep in the Marblehead defensive zone.
After Marino’s goal, the Clipper players on the field and on the bench swarmed the junior in celebration.
“They all tackled me,” Marino said. “They said, ‘Good job. That’s the best goal we’ve seen.’”
In Manchester Essex (15-0-3), the Clippers will face the undefeated Cape Ann League Division 2 champion. Manchester Essex beat Newburyport, 3-0, in the regular-season meeting between the schools on Sept. 26.
“They’re a very good team,” Hefferan said. “Their passing is great. They have a couple of strong All-League players. They have strong dribbling skills, and they’ve always been powerful. We have to be on our game to take that. We could, but we have to be on our game.”