Dole’s goal ends Laker run at perfection
By Wayne E. Rivet
Nearly two weeks ago, Skye Dole had a chance to keep Fryeburg Academy undefeated in field hockey.
Her quick deflection in front of the Lake Region net, however, struck goalie Meghan VanLoan squarely in the pads.
Tuesday, Dole’s deflection found the back of the Laker cage and ended the rival’s pursuit of perfection.
The goal also put a black cloud over Senior Day.
After a quiet offensive first half, Fryeburg Academy rediscovered their quick gear, mainly behind the tenacious play of senior Christina DiPietro, to upset the Lakers 1-0 at Linda Whitney Field.
The Raiders converted off a penalty corner opportunity with 8:36 left in the regulation as senior winger Ellen Bacchiocchi flicked a pass across the front of the Laker net. Dole, who had been moved from wing to “inner” by Coach Dede Frost, was positioned at the left post and deflected the pass into the net, despite late charges from LR defenders Kayla Reinhard and Kristina Morton.
The victory ended the top-ranked Lakers’ 13-game win streak, and moved Fryeburg (12-2) into the Number 2 seed in the upcoming playoffs. Both teams will earn a first-round bye, and will host playoff games.
While the victory avenged the previous defeat, Coach Frost saw the game in a different light.
“Honestly, coming into this game, I didn’t feel a win or a loss was important today. I know this sounds bizarre, but playoffs are coming up and everyone knows Lake Region and Fryeburg are going to be in it and the top four teams get home field advantage. Win or lose today, nothing is really going to change. Lake Region is going to be Number 1, and our position in the playoff would change slightly (FA moved up from Number 4 to Number 2). What is important is how we are playing,” Coach Frost said. “The competition out there (Class B West) is phenomenal. Today was a chance to see how do we stack up against them? They drive the ball really well, can we stop them? They double-team our players very well, can we fight through them? It was a great game. Most important, we learned a lot about ourselves.”
Frost felt the Raiders were a bit sluggish in the first half, playing “mediocre” hockey. Lake Region was the aggressor, and had multiple chances to take control of the game. Leading scorer Lucy Fowler had two blistering drives, one hitting the goal post while the other was kicked away confidently by FA senior goalie Sage Antolin (12 saves). The Lakers moved the ball well inside the Raider circle, and nearly tallied when Fowler crossed the ball to the far post where Elizabeth Schreiber nearly poked the ball into the cage. For Schreiber, it would be a day of near misses. She had a goal waved off later in the game because her stick was waist high when she connected.
“We had our chances. They were doing all the right things — what they needed to do — but today we just didn’t put the ball in the net. We had aggressive shots. We hit the post a couple of times and a few shots that just missed the cage. We were just an inch off, and that’s all it takes,” Laker Coach Lisa Shane said. “What was tough, in the end, is that they knew they had several good opportunities, but it just didn’t work out.”
Again, play was tight. And, players showed plenty of physical toughness. FA’s Makayla Frost took a hard drive to the shoulder and also had a stick graze her face, knocking her momentarily to the turf. Kendra Fox also shook off a hard struck drive that connected on her upper chest.
“These are tough kids,” Coach Frost said.
Momentum shifted in the second half. After the Lakers dominated territorial play over the first 20 minutes, the Raiders perked up over the final 15 minutes. The difference? Coach Frost pointed to senior spitfire Christina DiPietro.
“Christina lit the field on fire in the second half. She was the spark that ignited the flame for Fryeburg. Her heart was on her sleeve. She decided she was going to win this ballgame. About the 15-minute mark, we had a minute or two of pressure, and Lake Region called timeout. When the rest of the team saw what Christina was doing, they too started to play with more intensity,” Coach Frost said. “Then, I saw the best team effort that I had seen all day. Even after the goal, Lake Region had some great drives, but we made bigger stops than we had all game. It goes to show what happens when you rise to the occasion. And, it was one of the few times that one individual lit that fire. She was the catalyst.”
Coach Frost’s in-game adjustment — moving Dole from the wing, where the Lakers had done a good job over a game and a half to stifle one of FA’s top scorers, also proved to be a difference maker.
“I wasn’t upset with Skye at all. Lake Region plays the wings very well. They do a great job of trying to shut us down. I decided we needed a little more speed, so I sat Skye for a few minutes and then put her at an inner and asked her to create some movement in there,” Coach Frost said. “I just wanted to do something creative. I wanted to change things up. That same-old, same-old wasn’t working.”
Although the Lakers made a few strong runs over the final minutes, they were unable to get off quality drives. In the closing minutes, Fryeburg kept the ball pinned in the Laker end, cementing the upset.
Both coaches felt the game prepared them from the upcoming playoffs.
“Today wasn’t about a win or a loss, but how we’re going to play in the playoffs, which are right around the corner. These are the kinds of teams you are going to see. If you don’t win, you don’t move on,” Coach Frost said. “I told them (the players) on the bus here that this game was a stepping stone to the playoffs. The first half was really slow. We were here, playing good ball — just ordinary. Lake Region had some near misses. We just went through the motions. How we played the final 15 minutes is what we need to do in the playoffs.”
Coach Shane felt the pursuit of perfection may have been a distraction, but she immediately saw after the loss that her club’s focus was turned up a few notches.
“How can you not think about it (being undefeated), especially since this was their senior game? We’ve done a really good job all season keeping what we didn’t do well in front of us and trying to improve, rather than what our record is,” Coach Shane said. “I give Fryeburg credit. They picked up the pace in the second half. We were behind on some of the cuts — an area we need to finish next time. There were a lot of tears at first after the game. I told our players, ‘Okay, the hurt you feel right now you need to refocus it.’ I could see the change in their eyes. They are hungry and ready to bring on the next game.”
Coach Shane, who jumped into the head coaching spot early in the season, added, “It’s been an honor working with this group. They are such a hard-working group. I ask a lot of them at practice, and they embrace it.”
Both teams will have a little time off before their quarterfinal games. Being 1-2 in the ranking, if both teams win two games, they would square off in the West Finals.
When asked if she would like a rematch to break the 1-1 series, Coach Shane smiled and simply said, “Playing good hockey is my focus.”
• For the first time in years, the Lakers swept York as Lucy Fowler scored the game winner late in regulation, 1-0.
• Fryeburg dropped a 3-0 decision at Cape Elizabeth. Coach Frost was a little nervous entering the game, knowing the Capers had been on the rise.
“I was leery last week because of a three game away draw and Cape was in the middle of it. Playing on their turf. We were uneasy from the start. A lot went wrong at all levels,” she said. “We just couldn’t do anything right in that game.”
Goalie Sage Antolin had seven saves.
Fryeburg got back on the winning track with a 5-0 win over winless Gray-New Gloucester. Skye Dole scored three goals, while Kendra Fox and Mackenzie Hill each had one.