Oakmont Stopped in State Semifinals
STURBRIDGE -- There will be no third straight trip to the state final for Central Mass. Division 2 field hockey champion Oakmont Regional this year.
Raegan Hickey’s goal with just under 15 minutes remaining in the game came off Greenfield’s eighth corner and gave the Green Wave a deserved lead, and Greenfield held off the Spartans, 2-0, in Tuesday’s state semifinal at Tantasqua Regional High School.
The Western Mass. champions (20-2-0) had dictated the tempo and had the Spartans on their heels, and now will advance to Saturday’s state final at WPI.
Oakmont’s season came to a close at 12-3-6 following tourney wins over Northbridge, Leicester, Quaboag Regional and Uxbridge.
The defeat certainly doesn’t define the season of the scrappy Spartans, who had lost seven starters from last year’s team, including Maddie Moran and Lauren Ladue.
“An 8-2-6 team,” longtime Oakmont coach Leanne Roy said, “I don’t think many thought we were going to go where we went. I don’t even think we thought we would until we started to put it together and realize we’re pretty good.
“We weren’t sure of who we were, and once the postseason came, we realized we could do it on our own. We just had to find it.”
Roy noted the play of Hickey and Audrey Bresciano as being the catalysts for the Green Wave, who preferred to get things started through Bresciano out on the right wing.
The two would combine on both goals: Bresciano had swatted Rachel Provost’s insertion hit to her left, and Hickey got serious lift on the ball as it connected with the cage. Then with just under three minutes left in the game, Bresciano and Hickey would play a little 1-2 on the counter, with Bresciano finding a charging Hickey near the midway line.
Hickey took it the rest of the way and dumped it into the cage to complete the scoring.
″(Hickey and Bresciano) are a threat in there,” Roy said after meeting with her team for the final time this fall. “They are strong, and unfortunately they had some posted up in there. We knew what to expect: Some of them we answered, but (the first goal), not so much.”
The Green Wave -- who had knocked off Mahar, South Hadley, and Frontier Regional en route to Route 148 -- held a good deal of the ball within the first 10 minutes of this state semifinal, earning its first two corner hits in that time. Oakmont’s Audrey Dolan had cracked back to dispossess and deny on the first, while Greenfield’s second corner went through the attack without a stick touching it.
“That was her first time chasing out,” Roy praised. “She broke up the play, which was huge.”
Off Greenfield’s third corner in the 20th minute, junior Sam Gastonguay (6 saves) made a stunning save off a rocket from Bresciano, and while the pressure came off for about a few minutes, the Green Wave would come right back.
Oakmont’s Gianna Moorshead did the bulk of the defensive work, slowing the GHS attack.
“She’s been consistent with that, keeping her stick down,” Roy said of Moorshead.
Meanwhile, Greenfield was organized as it thwarted the Spartan attack and kept goaltender Samantha Smith safe.
“They took away a lot of our passing options. I think they were really good with taking off our second pass,” Roy said.
In all, Greenfield had six corner hits in the first 30 minutes, none that penetrated Gastonguay’s defenses.
The two sides started the second half playing rather conservatively, neither team registering a shot until Hickey’s reverse sweep a little after the 10-minute mark that was off-target.
Two minutes later, Hickey had another reverse sweep from point-blank range that just missed.
Hickey and Madyson Kuchieski would combo on a nifty breakaway, but Oakmont’s Riley Grimley tapped the ball away to slow the attack.
With just under 15 minutes to go, Hickey took a pass from Bresciano, and she launched a volley into the cage to break the deadlock.