The roads may have been different and the records may be different, but after strong performances in the regular season both the Gloucester and Manchester Essex field hockey teams have ended up in the same place: The Division 2 North State Tournament.
Manchester Essex enters the tournament looking for a sixth trip to the Division 2 North Finals in the last seven years while Gloucester will be making its first trip to the postseason since the 2008 season; but the goal is the same for both teams which is to make a run towards the sectional crown.
The 8-7-1 Fishermen have earned the No. 12 seed in Division 2 North and will travel to No. 5 Tewksbury (12-4-2) on Wednesday in the Division 2 North First Round. Unbeaten Manchester Essex (15-0-3), on the other hand, earned a first round bye and will play the winner of No. 7 Newburyport and No. 10 Marblehead’s Division 2 North First Round tilt on Wednesday.
The Newburyport/Marblehead winner will then travel to Hyland Field in Manchester to take on the Hornets Saturday night (7 p.m.).
The Fishermen and Hornets also enter the tournament on opposite ends of the Division 2 North spectrum. The second seeded Hornets are one of the favorites to win the section, and another matchup with 18-0 and top seeded Watertown in the sectional finals once again looks like a very real possibility.
Gloucester, on the other hand, is the second lowest seed in the tournament and an underdog but don’t judge it by its record. The Fishermen enter the postseason playing their best field hockey of the season and look like a completely different team than the one that started the season at 4-6.
Under first year head coach Lauren Riley, Gloucester got into a groove over the season’s stretch run. After a 1-0 loss to Marblehead on October 7, the Fishermen appeared to be on their way out of the playoff mix needing eight points over their final six games to qualify.