Heading into Wednesday’s Division 2 North First Round tilt with No. 5 Tewksbury, the chips appeared to be falling into the right place for the 12th seeded Gloucester field hockey team.
For starters the Fishermen, who entered the contest with an 8-7-1 record, finished the regular season with a furious run towards the postseason going 4-01-1 in their final six games and knowing they could hang with anyone that was put up against them in the opening round of the tournament. Gloucester also had senior captain Julia Lamoureaux named to the Northeastern Conference All Star team, Autumn Zubricki named NEC Honorable Mention All Star and first year head coach Lauren Riley named NEC Coach of the Year.
Although Gloucester played great defense throughout the entire game it was the Redmen who ended up prevailing 1-0 on a late goal from Ashley Kelly with just 8:03 to play in the contest.
The loss ends Gloucester’s season at 8-8-1 while Tewksbury (13-4-2) now moves on to the Division 2 North Quarterfinals.
The first half was a battle that took play, mostly, on the Fishermen’s side of the field. With the Redmen attacking the Gloucester zone almost nonstop it was up to its defense to come up with some big stops; and it did just that.
There is no telling how many goals the Tewksbury offense would have scored if not for goalie Deanna Foley and the Fishermen defense. The Gloucester net minder made a pair of enormous saves during a Redmen surge 20 minutes into the game to keep the contest scoreless. Tewksbury’s attack did not stop there putting together a 10-1 advantage on corners at the break, but Foley and the Gloucester defense was there to stop every one of them.
Foley ended the first half with four big saves to her credit and the score tied 0-0 which made it anybody’s game to win over the final 30 minutes of play.
During the second half the Fishermen offensive attack kicked in and, for a long period of time in the second half, looked like the better team. But the Redmen defense was just too strong and made a bunch of key stops of their own. Kayla Nasser led the Gloucester offense doing a great job working the ball into the Tewksbury zone.
After Foley made another big save on a shot off the stick of Tewksbury’s Amanda Brown and a missed penalty stroke from the Redmen, it looked like the Fishermen might just pull it out. But it was missed opportunities that hurt them in the end as it could not come up with a quality scoring opportunity before Kelly’s game winning goal with 8:03 to play and could not convert on a penalty stroke in the game’s final minutes.
“It was back and forth a lot,” Tewksbury head coach Pat Ryser said. “There was a lot of middle play throughout the first half. (Gloucester) is a really good team and they gave us a good fight.”
Although the season ended with a loss, Riley could only praise the play of her team this year as the program qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2008 and turned in a fantastic finish to the regular season.
“We played a fantastic game,” the Northeastern Conference coach of the year said. “I am really proud of this season and how we turned it around. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of these girls.”