By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER — Gloucester head field hockey coach Lauren Riley labeled Monday’s Northeastern Conference tilt with Salem as a game that her team needed to win to regain its momentum.
Gloucester began the season with a resounding win over Revere but has recently fallen into a bit of a funk dropping its next three. A loss on Monday would have dug the team into a deeper hole at 1-4, but a win would put it right back into the thick of the state tournament race.
When the final horn sounded at New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium, Gloucester had polished off one of its best team efforts of the season, clicking in every facet of the game en route to a dominant 5-1 win.
“This wasn’t a must win in the sense of a state tournament qualifier or a conference championship game, but it was a game we needed to win to get our confidence and momentum back,” Riley said. “There’s a difference between playing as individuals and playing as a congealed team and we played as a team tonight. I was very happy with the effort all around.”
It truly was a total team effort for Gloucester (2-3), which controlled the contest territorially from start to finish. The team broke out in a big way offensively as five different players scored goals. Kayla Nasser, Sabrina Cottone and Hayley Davis each had a goal and two assists while senior captain Taylor Sargent had a goal and an assist.
Senior captain Jill MacDonald controlled the midfield from her new link position and chipped in on the dominant defensive effort. Fellow senior captain Julia Lamoureaux shored up the defense, and goalie Jordan Westling made some nice saves.
“The offense played fantastic together,” Riley said. “There was a lot of crossing the circle and they were thinking about what the next play was. The defense controlled the circle too, (Salem) didn’t spend too much time near the net.”
It was the Witches that got on the board first as Ali Little scored on a corner opportunity.
That was all Gloucester would allow, however, as it would go on to dominate the remainder of the game.
Gloucester got on the board with just over ten minutes to play in the half when Liv Legendre found the back of the net after some nice passing exchanges between her, Sargent and Cottone.
Six minutes later, Gloucester scored another goal when Davis blasted a shot into the back of the net on a nice pass from Chloe Flavin to make it 2-1. The Fishermen weren’t done yet as Sargent, Davis and Nasser worked some nice passes in the final minute of the half culminating with a Sargent goal and a 3-1 lead.
Gloucester held onto that lead in the second half and added to it in the final 10 minutes on goals from Nasser and Cottone to cap the scoring at 5-1.
Riley was quick to credit the play of Nasser, who was a force on the offensive end, along with Cottone and Davis for their work on the wings and precision passing.
The win was an extremely important one for Riley’s squad, as it puts them just a win from the all important .500 mark.
Gloucester now turns its attention to Peabody on the road Wednesday (6:30 p.m.).
“It was a great start to the week but we have two more games left,” Riley said. “It starts with Peabody on Wednesday on the road under the lights and teams are always pumped to play a home night game. We need to continue to play the way we did tonight.”