By Jaron May, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
WRENTHAM, Mass. – There are 60 minutes in a field hockey game, and you cannot let off the gas pedal for one of them if you want to win, especially in the postseason.
Canton fell prey to this on Friday afternoon at Macktaz Field as they lost focus for just a second at the end of regulation and allowed King Philip to tie it up and force an overtime, which eventually ended with a KP goal and 2-1 victory for the hosts.
The first 57 minutes was all Canton. The Bulldogs controlled the time of possession, the tempo of the game, shots on goal, and corner opportunities.
Just five minutes into the first half, the Bulldogs saw their first glimpses at the net. A host of players threw three consecutive shots on net, but none found the back of the net. Then just two minutes later, Canton had their first corner of the game, but KP’s Kate Lindmark stole the crossing pass.
Canton kept the pressure on and attacked the ball on offense and defense, but did not see any other real opportunities. Around the 26-minute mark, however, the Bulldogs’ offense kicked it into gear, drawing three consecutive corners.
The first was blown dead before anything could happen. The second ended with KP’s goalie on the ground, and Canton’s offense throwing repeated shots on net. And the third, was the best look as Canton’s Julia Ezepik sent a rocket right to the middle of the net, but a waiting Abby Campbell was able to stop it.
If you wear down a defense enough, it will break eventually, and that is what happened with only 39 seconds left in the half. Canton sent the ball in from a free hit on the sideline; Andrea McNeil controlled the pass on the right side, turned, faced the net, and slapped the ball past the KP defense and goalie.
With the score 1-0 at the half, Canton had all of the momentum and KP went to the huddle with their heads down.
That same trend continued in the second half as well. Canton dominated the time of possession, won all the 50-50 balls, and kept pressure on offense; while KP had to rely heavily on their defense and didn’t get out on offense until the end of the half.
The Bulldogs kept going to their strengths, corners. They drew another six in the second half to add to their four from the first half. Although nothing came from those opportunities, they were able to wear down KP’s defense, totaling 12 shots on goal for the game.
With just three minutes remaining, still down one, KP’s head coach Liz Hathaway saw her opportunity and took a timeout. They Warriors were beginning to push the ball to the offensive side of the field and gain some momentum.
When asked about what she said in that huddle, Hathaway noted that she just wanted to “shift the ball to our
right, we can attack, cross right, and draw a corner.”
And that is just what they did. At the 2:30 mark, the Warriors set up for their corner. The ball was passed in, thrown on net, kicked out by Canton’s goalie, but right to Elizabeth Furfari who tapped it back in and hit the back of the net.
Hathaway was extremely proud of her girls and Furfari’s resilience saying the goal “propelled us into overtime and we dominated in overtime.”
In the 15 minutes of 7-on-7 overtime, KP had the momentum. The Warriors got right out on the attack and put as much pressure on the Bulldog defense as possible.
Some failed attempts from KP, coupled with some big saves by Canton’s Taylor Carrington, kept the game knotted up for the first 13 minutes of overtime. Canton had the best look of the period when they got out on a two-on-none breakaway. A huge kick save by Campbell stopped them in their tracks however and sent KP right back on the offensive.
The Warriors were able to draw seven corners in the overtime period, capitalizing on their final one with 1:20 left. Christina Hathaway received the inbounding pass, dribbled around a few defenders, and then found a streaking Lindmark up the left side. Lindmark wound up and fired a shot that was just too quick for the goalie to react to.
With the loud clack of plastic hitting wood, the scoreboard switched to 2-1, and KP completed the comeback.
Hathaway after the game was ecstatic for her girls and how they were able to fight back. She said, “I’m just really happy for them. We are having such an amazing season and to lose to Franklin and the Kelley-Rex title, this makes up for it. Since we are moving on.”
She even thought that, although her team may not have played their best game, they will be able to take the playoff win and grow from it. “Now they have more experience, have that tournament atmosphere, they get what it is all about,” Hathaway explained. “They have confidence that they can finish a game and come from behind.”
With the heartbreaking loss, Canton closes their season 13-5-2. KP (13-2-4) will be moving on to the next round of playoffs where they will be traveling to take on No. 3 seed Somerset Berkley on Sunday.