NORTH EASTON, Mass. – It was only five minutes into the game, and Oliver Ames had the ball in the attacking half for most of that time, but Tigers’ second-year head coach Abby Tepper didn’t like what she saw, and burned one of her timeouts.
“We talked about our body language, communication…it was the controllables more than anything,” Tepper said. “I thought it was important to call it that early, and it did turn things around. It was all about the controllables more than the actual tactical skills.”
The result of the timeout was a spirited effort from the Tigers, scoring four goals in the next 20 minutes and walking away from Muscato Stadium with a 5-0 decision over visiting Milford.
OA created two great scoring chances just moments after the timeout. Junior Kayla Lozzi fed Liz Nuss up the middle, but Milford’s Emily Haley made a nice defensive play just in front of goal. A minute later, freshman Hannah Stryke ripped a shot that was tipped by Nuss, but Milford keeper Paige Reisman made the stop.
The Tigers kept up the pressure, earning their third corner of the game just over the midway point of the first half. Freshman Emily Han connected with Sarah Stevens on the corner, who passed back to Cristina Boudreau. The senior ripped a shot from distance and found the back of the net to make it 1-0.
The goal seemed to give Oliver Ames more confidence, as they kept pressuring the Hawks.
Just two minutes after the opening tally, sophomore Maura Kiernan was in the right place in front of goal, getting a slid touch on Stevens’ long shot, deflecting it into the cage to make it 2-0.
“I think we started off a little bit flat and I had to call a timeout early on,” Tepper said. “We really want the players to lead, I think the captains are good leaders and they got everyone going. Once we started scoring, that kind of opened up the floodgates more for us.”
OA added another goal just a minute later, converting on another one of their eight first half corner chances. This time, junior Meaghan Rockey found Boudreau for a shot. With Stryke perfectly positioned for a screen, Boudreau’s shot found its way through traffic and into the back of the net.
The Tigers capped their first half scoring with just over five minutes to play in the first half. Boudreau carried possession up the right side of the field and then drilled a cross through the area to the back post. Junior Katie Bosse corralled the pass and then placed her shot into the back of the net to make it 4-0.
Oliver Ames controlled the second half as well, earning 10 corners and putting 11 shots on net, but only converted once.
Five minutes into the second half, the Tigers earned a penalty stroke when the ball was covered in the area. Lozzi took the shot and drilled into to the left side of the cage to make it 5-0.
Milford had chances on the counter-attack, especially with the speed of senior Shannon Cormier. But Oliver Ames’ defense played a high line and continually thwarted the Scarlet Hawks’ attempts to break out.
“For this game, we wanted our defense to be marking,” Tepper said. “Sometimes we have the defense go low and be ready to recover. But we wanted to mark this game and deny them, we wanted to stop the ball before it even got into our end. Our defense did a nice job of forcing them wide and keeping them out of the circle.”
The Hawks finally did break out in the 54th minute, registering their first chance on goal. Bella Gonzalez sent a pass in behind the defense that Cormier raced onto, but Oliver Ames goalie Caitlin Grant came charging out and made a sliding save, double stacking her pads.
Milford earned its first corner of the game in the final minutes but OA’s defense denied a scoring chance.
“I think we’re playing pretty well right now but I think the schedule gets a lot tougher next week with Foxboro and Canton,” Tepper said. “I think there are some games we could capitalize a bit more but the team chemistry is good and the morale is up.”
Oliver Ames field hockey (7-1-2 overall, 6-1-2 Hockomock) returns to action on Tuesday when Tepper makes her first trip back to her alma mater, Foxboro. Milford (2-7-0, 2-7-0) will try to bounce back when it entertains Attleboro on the same day.