Glastonbury’s Annelise Manzotti controls the ball as teammates #13 Kiernan Tierney and #15 Skylar Fiske looks on in the background during the Guardians 1-0 field hockey win at Cottone Field in Wethersfield last Tuesday.
Trailing 1-0 late in the first half, Glastonbury High School field hockey had a spectacular 98 seconds that changed the complexion of the game – scoring a pair of goals as the Guardians rallied for a 2-1 win at Wethersfield High School on Oct. 24.
“We were kind of frazzled,” senior captain Kiernan Tierney said of the slow start. “We took a step back and took a deep breath, and realized we needed to do it for each other and pushed through.”
With 2:48 remaining in the first half, Addison Infante tied the game with a laser shot into the back of the box for the equalizer.
Moments later, Allyson Collette rebounded a deflected shot before scoring the go-ahead goal with 1:10 remaining in the half.
The pair of goals turned out to be the difference as Glastonbury’s defense held strong in the second half.
GHS head coach Maureen Perkins liked how her veteran team responded to the early deficit, particularly against a tough conference opponent on the road.
“I’m just really proud of them,” added Perkins. “[Wethersfield]is a hard team to play; they are aggressive and kind of feisty and it forces us to play a way we’re not always comfortable playing, so it took us a little bit to figure it out against their style. I was really proud of how they fought, because they had to fight.”
Wethersfield drew first blood when Sadie Ruiz scored with an assist from Brynn Lisella at the 4:32 mark of the first quarter. After the early goal, Glastonbury’s defense was flawless the rest of the way behind goalie Alex Edwards (three saves) and the experienced defensive in front of her that helped thwart several late attacks from the Eagles.
Tierney and Skylar Fiske are captaining a defense that has posted seven shutouts and held their opponents to a total of nine goals through the first 13 Games.
“We are not typically a physical team, but we’re learning throughout the season how to cope with teams that are more physical,” stated Tierney. “I felt like we did a good job working around that obstacle today.”
Avery Olschefskie, who is patrolling the midfield, is the team’s third captain and is fueling a potent offense that fired 10 shots against Wethersfield.
Despite the barrage of shots, Wethersfield goalie Tess Parker made some impressive saves down the stretch to keep the Eagles within striking distance.
Perkins said that playing a close, physical game against a team like Wethersfield is good preparation for the upcoming state tournament.
“Seeing different styles definitely helps us. We also had different players step up today and that makes us better,” added Perkins.
“Some newer players also got opportunities today and I think they did a great job. It makes us stronger and it makes us deeper going into the tournament.”
The win improved the Guardians to 11-2 overall, the third-best winning percentage in Class L, and a perfect 7-0 record within the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC).
After returning 17 players from a year ago, including three all-conference players (Infante, Fiske, and Olschefskie), the team has been solid on both ends – outscored their first 13 opponents by a total of 44 goals.
“The kids that have been playing together for a while and they know what each other likes to do. There a chemistry,” Perkins said of her experienced roster. “We’re working in some newer players and we have a lot of options that we didn’t have before, so it’s all good for us in the end.”
Tierney added that, because of the continuity, the players had a built-in comfort level since the first game of the season.
“We were able to start off the season strong and we’ve kept with it,” added Tierney. “We’re learning how to fix the little mistakes we’ve made throughout the season and I think we’re progressing throughout every game and every practice.”
The team will close the regular season today (Thursday, Nov. 1) at Southington at 3:45 p.m.
It will be the final official tune-up for the state tournament, slated to start next Wednesday (Nov. 8).
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin