NORTH ANDOVER-- The Manchester Essex field hockey team entered training camp this August with the end result in mind. The Hornets knew they had a strong team heading into the season and a return trip to the Division 2 North Final was the long term goal.
With Saturday’s 2-0 victory over No. 3 Swampscott in the Division 2 North Semifinals at North Andover High School, No. 2 Manchester Essex has punched its fourth ticket to the sectional final over the last five years. The win was also the third straight state tournament win over Swampscott for the Hornets.
As it turns out the Hornets (18-1-1) got the matchup they were looking for as well, as they will square off against No. 1 Watertown (20-0) today at North Andover High (11:00 a.m.) in the Division 2 North Final. Manchester Essex and Watertown met in the North Final every year from 2008-2010, each game was a 2-1 Watertown win.
“We’ve been playing since August with the end in mind and this is exactly the matchup we’ve hoped for,” Hornets head coach Andrea Slaven said. “I mean everybody loves to see a number one vs. number two matchup. I think we have to ignore the history and realize that it’s anyone’s game at this point. I think we’re playing for every Manchester Essex team that didn’t get by them.”
Manchester Essex put things away early with a pair of goals in the first 14 minutes of play.
Junior Brittany Smith put the Hornets up 1-0 when she scored after some strong work in front of the Swampscott goal following a Hornets corner opportunity, one of 21 in the contest.
Six minutes later Smith struck again, this time she put home a nice long pass from Sr. captain Nicole Bradley to make it 2-0 Hornets, a lead they would hold onto for the remainder of the game.