By Nick Curcuru Sports Editor
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — NORTH ANDOVER The Manchester Essex field hockey team was hoping the fourth time was the charm Monday against Watertown in the Division 2 North Final at North Andover High School.
The Hornets fell to Watertown in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Division 2 North Sectional Final and were hoping 2012 would be different.
Unfortunately for Manchester Essex, it was more of the same. Top seeded Watertown’s aggression and precision was too much for No. 2 Manchester Essex to handle in the Red Raiders 2-0 win.
The win was the fifth straight Division 2 North sectional title for Watertown (21-0) and the 90th straight win for the state powerhouse. Manchester Essex finishes off the season at an outstanding 18-2-1 dropping its fifth sectional final contest in the last six years.
“The girls gave everything they got, Watertown has a lot of speed and capitalized on our mistakes. We couldn’t return the favor,” Hornets head coach Andrea Slaven said. “We had to put things into perspective today and realize that not all teams had these extra few weeks like we had.”
The contest was a near mirror image of the Hornets’ 2-0 semifinal win over Swampscott except the roles were reversed. On Monday it was Watertown that controlled play with a relentless attack much like the Hornets did in Saturday’s semifinal tilt, keeping Manchester Essex on its heels for much of the contest.
The Red Raiders held the Hornets to just one shot and one corner opportunity. Manchester Essex had trouble breaking out towards the Watertown goal as the Red Raider midfield and defense constantly got into passing lanes to disrupt outlet attempts. Watertown also used its superior speed to create constant offense which led to 15 shots and 13 corners on the game.
“We were just trying to work as a unit out there and not panic,” Watertown head coach Eileen Donahue. “We knew they had a strong forward line and we wanted to make sure that we could step up to the play so they couldn’t get down field and I think we accomplished that piece.”
Watertown got on the board just over 22 minutes into the first half when Alyssa Carlson put home a shot from just inside the box, a shot that found its way through a crowd in front of the Hornets goal.
The first half ended with Watertown holding a 1-0 lead and dominating in shots and corners. The Hornets needed a spark to get back into the game but instead Watertown held onto control much like it did in the first half.
Emily Loprete made it 2-0 with 17 minutes to play when her shot deflected off the foot of a Hornets defender and into the net.
In desperation time Manchester Essex was still unable to penetrate the Watertown defense and the Red Raiders continued to threaten for the remainder of the contest.
Although Monday’s result was disappointing, the Hornets polished off another stellar season with a Cape Ann League Small title, the CAL Small Player of the Year in Nicole Bradley, and another deep run into the state tournament.
Slaven praised the work of her nine seniors in Bradley, Maddi Bistrong, Allyson Conway, Kelsi Field, Carolyn Heslop, Megan Jones, Olivia Mastendino, Sarah Seargeant and Ivy Silag-Stearns.
“We played with no regrets and we gave everything we had every game,” Slaven said. “We took a step up this year and those ties from last season became wins. This was a great group of seniors who have set the tone for the future of the program.”