MONTPELIER — Spaulding’s field hockey team was held scoreless for the opening 13 minutes Friday but a skeleton crew of Montpelier players knew a storm was brewing.
Isabella Bevins, Morgan Mast and Anna DeAlmeida scored in a six-minute window and Mast capped her hat trick in the second half, leading the Crimson Tide to a 6-1 victory. Kiernan Krasofski added one goal for Spaulding, with Samantha Donahue, Mast and DeAlmeida registering assists. Anja Samsom scored on a pass from Zoie Masure for the Solons, who competed with one sub.
“Spaulding has a lot of strong offensive players and it was hard,” Montpelier coach Sarah Wells said. “If a team has one strong offensive player, that’s one thing. But three of them — that’s tough.”
Tide goalie Abigail Stacy stopped three shots, while Montpelier goalie Erin Kelley made 13 saves. Spaulding wound up with a 17-1 advantage on penalty corners and turned the start of the game into target practice. However, Kelley and the MHS defense refused to back down during long stretches of non-stop clearances.
Mast and midfielder Madison Henderson barely missed the mark on early shots and then Bevins inserted four straight penalty corners into the circle, keeping the Solons on their toes. Olivia Rousse made a determined defensive stop for Spaulding with 18:20 left in the first half, allowing her team to regain complete control.
“Olivia can take it straight up the field when she needs to,” Mast said. “She can just turn it on.”
The Tide pulled ahead with 16:47 left in the first half when Bevins inserted a penalty corner from the right side and immediately darted toward the near post. Mast unleashed a bouncing shot that ricocheted off the inside of Kelley’s left leg and deflected toward the goal line. Bevins spotted the loose ball, swung around and knocked in a point-blank shot.
“As a freshman, (Bevins) has the speed and the stick skills that are unprecedented from what I’ve seen before,” Henderson said. “Her inserts on corners are amazing, and then she’s always right there on the post for a quick tip-in. She’s very valuable to our team.”
Spaulding made it 2-0 with 15:16 left in the first half when Mast dribbled up the left side and punished the Solons with an unassisted goal. Less than five minutes later DeAlmeida advanced the ball toward the left portion of the circle and beat Kelley with a shot past a pile of other players.
“In the first half we started off a little bit out of whack and then we definitely came together and started communicating,” DeAlmeida said. “We were able to finish it off really well.”
Montpelier trimmed the deficit to 3-1 with 9:19 remaining in the first half, with Masure assisting Samsom. The Solons were forced to play with no subs for the second straight day after one player suffered a first-half injury, but the MHS players persevered and kept things close entering halftime. The Solons were playing their third game in five days and battled fatigue as the game progressed.
“We had some issues stepping to ball today and cutting off those 50-50 balls,” Wells said. “It was really a long week for us and our goalie faced a lot of shots today, but she did an amazing job. You take that many shots on goal, you can only save so many. It was a tough day defensively for us, but hopefully we can grow from it and move on.”
Montpelier created several counterattacks at the start of the second half as Masure, Alex Smith and Cece Curtin gave Spaulding fits in the midfield. When Mast blasted back-to-back shots on net with 18:10 remaining, Solons defender Andi Dates tracked back and made two goal-saving blocks.
Mast extended the lead to 4-1 with 15:24 left to play after beating two defenders on the left side and lifting a bouncing shot into the back of the cage. Zoe Tewksbury nearly scored for the Tide a minute later, but Kelley batted away the high bid.
With 7:30 remaining, Mast passed up a wide-open shot and delivered a no-look service to Samantha Donahue outside the left post. Donahue delivered a low centering pass to Krasofski, who tucked away the opportunity for a 5-1 advantage. Mast closed out the scoring with 1:45 on the clock, one-timing a pass from DeAlmeida inside the right post.
“We had a lot of of opportunities early,” Mast said. “I think our issue was we weren’t taking those rebounds that were given up to our advantage. But later in the game we turned it around. …Our corners are something that we’ve been working on a lot lately. Our last game we had a 20-1 advantage on corners and we didn’t score on a single one. But they’re getting a little better and we scored on a couple today.”
Spaulding and Montpelier have both tallied at least one goal in every game this season. The Solons (2-8) will host Stowe at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“Hopefully we can take the weekend to recover and then come back strong next week,” Wells said. “I’m hoping for two subs by next game.”
Spaulding (6-1-2) will host North Country at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday for its Senior Game. The Tide have outscored opponents 20-8 and are battling for a top-four seed in the upcoming Division II playoffs.
“We came out strong today and used a lot of skill and stick-work to move the ball around,” Tide coach Tabitha Lord said. “Montpelier held us at the start, but it wasn’t enough to keep the girls from going at it.”
Spaulding junior varsity players Amira Pelletier, Grace Isham and Emma Boulanger all competed in Friday’s varsity action. It marked the ninth straight contest that JV players have contributed valuable minutes for the Tide.
“The girls who joined us today from JV had amazing stops, and they were pulling it to the sides where we needed them to go,” Henderson said.