Raiders emerging as field hockey force

By Wayne E. Rivet
Staff Writer

BATTLE IN THE CORNER — Fryeburg Academy’s Maddy Smith (left) looks to send the ball into the scoring circle during Saturday’s varsity field hockey game at Lake Region. LR defender Lucy Fowler tries to knock the ball away. Smith scored the game winner in the first half as the Raiders blanked the Lakers 3-0. (Rivet Photo)

Three weeks, it all came so easy as Fryeburg Academy rolled past Lake Region 5-1.

Saturday was a different story.

While the Lakers seemed a step or two slower than the Raiders’ front line in the first meeting, the rematch was a tightly fought battle for most of the morning.

Then, Fryeburg “found” its game, scoring twice over the final five minutes of regulation to earn a 3-0 victory.

“I think both teams are totally different than what you saw at the beginning of the season. Lake Region really came ready to play today, like we thought they would. It was their Homecoming, and they were out to prove that the first game was a fluke. And, we were out to prove it wasn’t,” FA Coach Dede Frost said. “Today mentally, I thought we were a little off. First half, I felt Lake Region wanted it more than we did. They cut to the ball better. We didn’t talk to each other. Our defense was a little flat. We weren’t setting up plays. We weren’t getting back. We just looked tired. I don’t think we were tired. I told the kids that we didn’t do anything in the first half to be tired. It was a good joke, it broke the ice.”

Frost felt the Raiders found their rhythm over the final 10 minutes of the game.

“We started passing well, dodging, no hacking. That’s more what you want to see — a ‘pretty’ hockey game. You’re avoiding your opponent rather than running right at them and having to battle,” Frost said. “The problem is you can’t always wait until the last 10 minutes of a game to play your best hockey. It could come back to haunt you.”

Frost remembers games over the past few years, which saw the Raiders out shoot their opponents (in one case 22-3) by big margins only to lose by a goal.

FA Senior Maddy Smith was a workhorse for the Raiders on the outside from start to finish. Her hustle kept the ball pinned in the LR end despite some spirited play from Laker defenders Lucy Fowler and Kayla Reinhard (who took a hard stick hit to her forehead), and her tenacity paid off at the 24:04 mark of the first half when she scored off a rebound, beating LR netminder Shannon Van Loan to her right. Ellen Bacchiocchi had the assist.

“I thought our two wings, Maddy and Ellen, really worked hard to make pushes up the field and spread the defense out,” Coach Frost said. “They were consistent all day. They did their jobs.”

Fryeburg turned the heat up as Christina DiPietro had a good scoring bid at 11:11, but the shot was kicked aside by Van Loan. In the closing three minutes, the LR offense came to life as Monica Couvillion and Alice Sanborn combined for two quality scoring chances, only to be denied by the quickness of FA senior goalie Brittany Fox (4 saves).

After Coach Frost’s halftime talk, Fryeburg’s aggressiveness intensified. Late in the second half, Fryeburg induced three consecutive penalty corner chances. DiPietro gave the Raiders some breathing room when she deflected a drive from the top of the circle from Makayla Frost past Van Loan for a 2-0 lead with 3:42 remaining.

Teams know that if you give FA’s Sage Hennessy some operating room, she can be very dangerous. After being bottled up by the LR defense most of the day, Hennessy finally found some open green space with under a minute to play. Her quickness and some nifty maneuvers enabled Hennessy to pull the trigger for a goal with under a minute left in regulation.

“The nice thing about the goals today was that two were off penalty corners, which is neat for a coach because they were off plays we work on in practice. You actually put together something that was worked on during practice — that’s great,” Coach Frost said. “Sage’s goal was exciting to see because she has worked so hard on finishing breakaway chances. It’s all mental when it comes down to the shooter and goalie. What do I do? Dodge or shoot? Sage is developing that confidence to make that big shot.”

The 3-0 victory earned the Raiders a sweep of their season series with the Lakers. For the game, Lake Region had seven shots, while Fryeburg had 14. Penalty corners, Lake Region had one and Fryeburg had 10.

Despite the loss, LR Coach Dagny Leland felt her team had made some big strides since the 5-1 opening game loss to Fryeburg.

“I thought the girls showed patience, calm and a readiness to play today. They were not scared of anyone, unlike that first game where they certainly had the jitters,” Coach Leland said. “This time around, you could see they were excited to play and their energy level was better. I felt we did a much better job attacking the ball and passing the ball.”

Leland also credited goalie Shannon Van Loan with stepping up to make some big saves to keep the Lakers close.

“Shannon has worked very hard at her game,” Coach Leland said. “We have a few breakdowns, which ended up costing us some goals.  We’re continuing to learn and our confidence is growing.”

While FA Coach Dede Frost may have thought her team didn’t play well, Coach Leland offered a different viewpoint.

“Maybe the reason they didn’t play as well as they would have liked was because we played better today,” she said. “We have some talented girls here, and their abilities were seen today, unlike the first time we played them (Fryeburg).”

Winners of five straight — four by shutout — the Raiders claimed the top-ranking in the Class B West Heal Ratings released on Tuesday. At 6-1, the Raiders are 12 tourney points better than Falmouth (4-1-1) and 14 points up on Spruce Mountain (5-0, the Jay-Livermore Falls combine). Fryeburg could have opened some distance yesterday with a victory over Falmouth.

Lake Region, meanwhile, is right in the playoff mix, checking in at Number 6, just ahead of Mountain Valley, each sporting identical 3-2-1 records. Greely and York sit above the Lakers.

In other games, Ellen Bacchiochi scored the game’s only goal with 31 seconds left to give the Raiders (5-1) the win over the Hawks (4-2). Sage Hennessy assisted on the goal. Fryeburg goalie Brittany Fox recorded fives saves for the shutout. Ashley Pingree had 10 saves for Sacopee Valley

Up next: The Raiders travel to Cape Elizabeth on Saturday for a 3 p.m. game, and then host Yarmouth on Monday at 4 p.m.

Lake Region has a change in its schedule as the Friday home game against York (5-1) has been moved to Monday at 4 p.m. Lake Region will host Sacopee Valley on Tuesday, also at 4 p.m.

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