It was a cold autumn senior night at New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium Monday night, and the Gloucester field hockey team went into its game with Peabody with one thing on its mind; making the Division 2 North State Tournament. A win on senior night over the Tanners and Gloucester would qualify for the postseason.
Thanks to a strong second half Gloucester got just what it needed Monday night, a 3-1 win over the Tanners to improve to 7-6-2 on the year and clinch a spot in the tournament.
The Fishermen came into Monday’s game playing some of their best field hockey of the season going 2-0-1 in their last three games and looking like a team determined to lock up tournament berth.
With its back up against the wall Gloucester came up with huge on the road against Malden, 3-0, followed by a second win over Salem, 4-0. Head coach Lauren Riley’s team also had a 1-1 tie against conference rival Swampscott (9-3-2), which beat Gloucester earlier in the season and is the second place team in the Northeastern Conference.
“We have improved tremendously since the beginning of the season,” Riley said after Monday’s win.
Gloucester won in Peabody (5-9-1) 3-0 earlier in the year and the girls used that momentum and the feel of seniors special night to dominate play from the start.
The Fishermen looked like a team that wasn’t going home without a trip to the state tournament locked up on Monday controlling play early and drawing first blood with a goal from Sabrina Cottone at 18:50 mark of the first half.
Gloucester kept the ball in the Tanners zone for most of the first half but a Peabody evened things up with a goal off of a penalty stroke, from Noel Koch to tie the game heading into halftime.
The second half featured more strong defense from both teams.
The Tanners got the ball into the Fishermen’s zone a lot more frequently to start the second half but it wasn’t enough as Gloucester kicked its game up a notch as the contest wore on.
Kayla Nasser scored the go-ahead goal at the 11:25 mark to put the Fishermen ahead 2-1 and that was all that they needed.
Gloucester played great defense to close out the game and the Tanners had a real tough time getting the ball out of their zone all night. Nasser added scored an insurance goal, her second of the game, with 7:25 remaining to make it 3-1 to seal the win and clinch a postseason spot for the Fishermen.
“We had great team defense and great defense out of our Midfielders, Sophie Donnelly and Autum Zubricki,” Riley said. “Haley Davis played very aggressive and Julia Lamoureaux played solid.”
Gloucester closes out the season against a tough Danvers team that beat the Fishermen in a very close 3-2 game at Newell Stadium earlier in the season. The Falcons will enter the contest on their home field with a stellar 9-4-2 record.
The Fishermen don’t plan on taking their foot off the gas with their postseason ticket already punched. A win against a very good Danvers team would be a huge confidence builder and would give Gloucester a 5-0-1 record in its last six games heading into the postseason making it a squad that nobody will want to meet in the opening round.