NEWBURYPORT — Even though she didn’t technically get credit for the goals over the Newburyport loudspeakers, Madison Hillick wasn’t all that bothered by it.
Just playing normal field hockey again, and, of course, scoring twice to beat her team’s rival, was enough for the Triton senior.
“It was an accident!” laughed Hillick after teammate Devyn Karpenko got credit for both of the goals. “Our coach wrote No. 9 down twice for both of us which was why everyone was confused. But (Karpenko) was the one who got it into the zone on both goals, so we both worked equally hard to get it.”
Getting past the honest mistake, it was still all smiles for Hillick and the Vikings after Tuesday’s season-opening 2-0 shutout win over Newburyport. The victory also snapped a five-game winless streak for Triton against its rival dating back to 2018, as the Clippers had gone 4-0-1 over the last five matchups.
So that, along with the win coming on Newburyport’s home field, made it a perfect start to the season for Triton.
“It felt so good,” said Hillick. “A lot of people didn’t expect us to win. And they all said to us in the hallway today, ‘Oh, you’re not gonna win.’ But now it’s like we did it and we’re all so proud of each other! We came with the energy and we were all hyping each other up on the field.
“I mean, what else could we want?”
But another major victory Tuesday afternoon was that, for the first time in two years, it actually felt like normal field hockey again.
Last fall’s pandemic-shortened season only consisted of 10 games, with team’s playing 7-on-7 and with abbreviated rules.
Plus, of course, everyone was wearing masks throughout.
But with the sun shining down over Newburyport’s turf field yesterday afternoon, field hockey was back to the normal — and maskless — 11-on-11 play.
“We feel so much happier to be back to normal,” said Karpenko, a junior. “Having everything back to the way it was after last year’s tough season is really great.”
And earning a quality win over a strong program like Newburyport is something that will hopefully be a sign of positive things to come for Triton.
After earning a corner late in second quarter, Karpenko took the entry pass and rifled a shot that got caught up in traffic in front of the Newburyport goal. But Hillick was able to corral the ball with some space, and she fired a shot that found the back of the cage and gave her team a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
Then in the third quarter, the Vikings earned another corner and this time it was Sammy Kelly who got the entry pass. She unleashed a rocket on goal that Hillick redirected in with her stick to make it 2-0.
That was all the cushion goalie Sophie Chapman needed. She stopped three shots total, and made a sprawling save late in the fourth quarter to quell any hopes of a Newburyport comeback.
“Newburyport is always very strong,” said Triton coach Donna Andersen. “And I know that, being a rival, the rivalry between Triton and Newburyport is always intense. So it was a really great win. In terms of respecting who they are as a program, to be able to play really well and win is a good feeling.”
For the Clippers, goalie Jane Mettling made a strong save late to keep it a two-goal game and finished with four stops.
“I’m excited about where the season is going to go,” said Newburyport coach Jessica Philbrick. “We have a lot of girls who are stepping into new and prominent roles this year.”
Triton 2, Newburyport 0
Goals: Madison Hillick 2
Assists: Devyn Karpenko, Sammy Kelly
Saves: T — Sophie Chapman 3; N — Jane Mettling 4
Triton (1-0): 1 1 — 2
Newburyport (0-1): 0 0 — 0