TOWNSEND — In field hockey, the best team doesn’t always win and North Middlesex field hockey coach Jane Powers feels that was the case on Wednesday. After watching her Lady Patriots dominate the flow of play for most of the contest, she believes that her team deserved a victory. However, it was visiting Gardner who claimed it, scoring the lone second half goal, en route to a 2-1 victory.
“I thought we really controlled the flow of play throughout the contest,” said Powers. “Our passing was good and we held the edge in shots on goal. It feels like we did everything but win the game. I am disappointed, but we have a very young group that can build off this and come back stronger next season.”
After a sluggish start, North Middlesex drew first blood at 11:35 mark. Off a scrum in front of the net, Jamie Kelley controlled the ball and centered a pass toward the middle of the circle to Emma Delaney, who redirected the pass into the left side of the net for the game’s first goal.
With five minutes remaining in the half, the Lady Patriots had another chance go by the boards. Off a long hit by Shanti Scott, Delaney took control off the ball and sent a centering pass in front of the net that just missed the sticks of two North Middlesex players before rolling out of bounds.
In the closing minute, Gardner seized the momentum by knotting up the game. A scramble in front of the net produced two shots that were blocked before the ball came back to Becky Ellis. She stuffed home a shot from five yards out to make it 1-1 heading into the intermission.
Early in the second half, the Lady Patriots went on the offensive, putting four shots on goal and collecting three penalty corners, but were turned away after every point. After holding off the early barrage, the Lady Wildcats took the lead with just under 18 minutes to play.
Kelly Walsh, who played a brilliant offensive game, made a strong run down the right side. The senior captain fired a shot across her body and just past the outstretched leg of North Middlesex goalkeeper Jenny Confrancisco (five saves) that snuck inside the left post to make it a 2-1 contest.
With their backs firmly against the wall, the Lady Patriots put together a furious last 10 minutes of play. North Middlesex came up with a pair of golden chances that were turned away by Gardner goalkeeper Danielle LaPorte, who finished with seven saves.
In the 50th minute, Kelley made sent a centering pass to Delaney, who one-timed a shot from 10 yards that was kicked away on a beautiful reaction save by LaPorte. Just over five minutes later, Kelley sent a pass off a penalty corner to Meg Flatley, who lined a shot from 12 yards that was kicked away. Despite an 8-2 edge in shots on goal and a 9-0 advantage in penalty corners, the Lady Patriots could not break through in the second half, falling 2-1 and finishing the season at 10-3-6.
“This wasn’t our ‘A’ game today, we got away from our game plan and you can’t do that in the postseason,” said Powers. “I thought we had trouble adjusting to the adjustments made against us. This was a tough way to go out.”