By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The numbers game finally caught up to Mansfield.
In a 1-1 game, the Hornets controlled the first five minutes of overtime in the D1 South Final, pushing the pace and getting into attacking positions but never found an opportunity to bury the game winner.
Walpole used the counter attack, first a breakaway from Emma Flynn that Mansfield goalie Brenna Prior denied point blank. Then a minute later, the Porkers got a two on none chance when Brooke Skulski net Abigail O’Sullivan in for a chance but once again Prior got the stop.
But just one minute later, the Porkers had a three on none breakaway chance with Mansfield trying to sub and off a counter attack and Prior had no chance when Mel Weber slipped a pass to her right to Celia Walsh for the tap in as Walpole got a 2-1 win in overtime.
“The whole secret to success in overtime is to bury the biscuit early and we had our chance and unfortunately we didn’t do it,” Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan said. “Then your legs get tired and then you saw what happened.”
Mansfield took the lead after weathering an early push from Walpole in the first 10 minutes. The Hornets were finally able to get some pressure going forward and after a restart, Amalia Todesco ripped a shot into the area and the rebound fell to senior Caroline Maher and she buried it while falling to give Mansfield a 1-0 lead just 13 minutes into the game.
The Hornets nearly doubled the lead when sophomore Emily Ierardo beat her mark down the right sideline and cut in. She fired a cross that Maher got a good piece of by Walpole goalie Audrey Lynch got her pad in the way to stop the shot. mansfield was able to kill off a green card penalty to end the first half.
After a back and forth start to the second half, the Porkers were able to break through with just over 18 minutes to play. Weber charged down the middle and a rebound fell right to Walsh and she buried it to tie the game.
“Our whole defense is really a cohesive unit and they’ve played great all season and today was no different,” Nyhan said. “Walpole was going to score a goal, you get to this point of the season and someone will score a goal. It’s how you respond to it and it took a little bit of wind out of our sail and by the time we got going we were fighting the clock.”
Walpole nearly had the winner with just over six minutes to play when Prior was beat but Maggie Dunn did well to cover the goal and stopped a shot right on the goal line.
In overtime, Mansfield controlled possession for almost all of the first five minutes but failed to register a decent scoring shot. Prior made two huge saves to extend the game before the Porkers finally scored with just over seven minutes to go in the second overtime.
“She had an awesome season,” Nyhan said of Prior. “What she did all season you saw here today so it wasn’t anything that we didn’t expect. It was three on zero at the end, we were subbing a kid so it was just too bad because she played terrific.”
Mansfield finishes the season 20-2 overall and won the Kelley-Rex division for the second year in a row. It’s the first time the Hornets have won consecutive league titles since 1997 and 1998 that the program has done so.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.