DUXBURY — The Harwood field hockey team survived 14 penalty corners Wednesday and then attacked when U-32 least expected it, stealing a 1-0 victory in overtime.
A chilly fall evening was the perfect venue for the Highlanders to claim revenge after suffering a 5-2 loss against U-32 two weeks ago. Goalie Kaylee Cameron and the Harwood defense absorbed blow after blow during a wild second half to keep things scoreless. The Raiders came close to ending things at the start of overtime, but Harwood’s Annie Fennelly assisted Rachel Goodwin for the game-winner with 2:37 left on the clock.
“We were struggling at the end to get the ball out of our side of the field,” Fennelly said. “And one of our girls hit the ball up and I dribbled up the field and Rachel was right where she was supposed to be at the post. I crossed it and Rachel hit it in.”
Cameron made five saves for the Highlanders and teammates Allie Brooks, Ella Holter and Mary Smith played key roles in securing the first shutout of the season. Fennelly, Anna Kudriavetz, Charlotte Cook and Maggie Aiken also chipped in with gritty efforts on defense and in the midfield for HU. Abby Scharges, Claire McGeorge and Goodwin led the attack for Harwood, which snapped a three-game losing skid.
“Kaylee Cameron rocked it today and our defense did awesome in the second half,” Harwood coach Katie Alexander said. “They were ready, blocking the circle and backing each other up. They did a good job helping out Kaylee and talking to each other. The middle of the season we were getting kind of sluggish, but we’re back in it. And an overtime win is always more exciting than a regulation win because when you score it’s over and it’s done.”
U-32 held an 11-2 advantage on penalty corners in the second half but didn’t have anything to show for its efforts. Raiders playmaker Caitlyn Fielder was a non-stop nuisance inside the circle, sending in high-quality crosses to teammates and taking a few whacks herself. Fielder’s energy helped fire up the Raiders during a few slow points, and Megan Ognibene was another big sparkplug for U-32 in the midfield.
But as the Raiders grew stronger and stronger throughout regulation, they repeatedly ran into a fortress of Harwood defenders. And when U-32 finally broke through to fire off a few shots, Cameron was unstoppable.
“Kaylee Cameron is amazing — she’s been doing so well this year,” Fennelly said. ”She’s a junior and she’s really just come into her position so well. We’re really proud of her.”
In the first half, the Highlanders made a handful of powerful clearances, allowing Cameron to breath easily despite facing intense pressure. Cook sparked a counterattack up the left side with a long pass to Goodwin, while Fennelly broke up a U-32 penalty corner midway through the first half. Aiken helped release more pressure with a long ball up the field to McGeorge, and three minutes later Abby Scharges set up Goodwin during a quick transition along the left sideline.
Goodwin went toe-to-toe with the U-32 goalie with 9:10 left in the first half, ripping off two rapid-fire shots outside the left post. U-32’s Maria Stephani and Mya Elliott dug deep defensively to deny a point-blank scoring attempt two minutes later. At the other end Holter stepped forward to deny an advance by Fielder with 1:10 left in the opening half.
At the start of the second half, Harwood’s defense withstood a flurry of six penalty corners served in by Fielder in a three-minute span. Ognibene established more and more control of the midfield as the game progressed, using her speed and instincts to stay a step ahead of the Highlanders. With 12:10 left in regulation Fielder delivered a penalty corner and immediately dashed toward the cage to follow up a teammate’s shot along with Alaina Beauregard. Cook, Holter, Allie Brooks and Merry Smith all retreated toward the goal line and Cameron fell back into the cage while blocking a second-chance shot with her body.
“Kaylee has made some killer saves this season,” Goodwin said. “Our whole team, this past year, we’ve just stepped it up. And Kaylee has a lot to do with that.”
Harwood’s defense held strong again during back-to-back U-32 penalty corners with seven minutes left to play. McGeorge attempted to score with 4:40 remaining, forcing a rushed clearance out of bounds. A minute later Stephani dove in front of a shot by Cook, setting the stage for overtime.
U-32’s defense made a pair of big stops at the start of the extra period and then Fielder went to work at the opposite side, leading to another penalty corner. Cameron held her ground and then watched Fennelly take off up the right portion of the field. With overtime featuring 7-on-7 action instead of 11 players a side, the HU senior used the extra space to dribble all the way toward the end line. With U-32 overloading on the near side, Fennelly spotted Goodwin making a far-post run and delivered a low cross to set up a close-range finish.
“(Ognibene) controls the midfield really, really well,” Fennelly said. “Somehow she got behind me and I was able to get up in front of her, which is what I needed to be able to cross it.”
For Goodwin, one key to the final play was simply acting on instincts. The Highlanders sophomore knew her team faced a lot of defensive pressure all game, but HU’s speed and fitness were big advantages in overtime.
“Playing 7-v-7, there’s so much open space,” Goodwin said. “You have to get past one person, and then if you sprint hard enough you can just be there with an open goal. And that was one of the fastest sprints that I’ve done in awhile. I was just kind of blacking out at that point. I was like: ball, goal, now. I didn’t think about it. I just saw Annie and got a touch and hit it in.”
Harwood (3-6) will host Missisquoi at 3:45 p.m. Friday. U-32 (3-6) will travel to play Lyndon the same day.