Hawks win first league game with shutout
By Darren Lum
Published Oct. 5, 2017
There’s a lot to be said for perseverance and composure when it comes to this year’s Red Hawks varsity girls’ field hockey team.
The Kawartha Field Hockey League season is three games old and the Hawks’ varsity squad is still finding its way with a roster comprised mostly of rookies.
Unlike other years, this team has been challenged in league play, losing its first two games to the same opponent in shutouts.
Despite the pair of losses to the Crestwood Secondary School Mustangs in back-to-back games, one away and one at home, the team rallied in their third game. They came through with a dominant 2-nil win at home against the visiting (perennially tough) Holy Cross Hurricanes this past Monday with more than 20 people watching.
Coach Steve Smith was proud of how his team came through while facing a solid opponent with an aggressive goalkeeper, who was charging hard at every Hawks shooter.
Smith had scouted the team during a recent Peterborough tournament, pointing out the goalkeeper’s tendencies. He told the team not to be intimidated and to move the ball side-to-side to address the keeper’s aggression.
There is a simple strategy he reminds his players every game.
“The game plan is always the same: Go. Run. Shoot. Score,” he said.
Before this league game, the Hawks were looking for their first goal and seemed hard-pressed to score after a first half with several scoring chances that did not materialize, whether during the flow of the game or off successive short-corner opportunities.
However, the Hawks never appeared frustrated and maintained their intensity, working the ball inside. Their defence may have bent at times, but it never broke. They weathered several Holy Cross offensive storms until they could regroup.
At the half, Smith reminded the players to keep working for the first goal.
The game-winner came early in the second half from Hawks veteran Emma Scheffee.
A few minutes after a missed chance with a low shot square off the post by Abby Gordon in the second half, she came through with the insurance marker.
Her goal likely erased any disappointment felt after a slow roller was cleared from going into the net by a Hurricanes defender after it beat the Holy Cross keeper in the first half.
This game is as much of a win for the offence as it is for the defenders, who withstood a few sustained offensive Hurricanes barrages.
On one scoring chance, the Hurricanes let out a loud cheer, believing they had just scored the equalizer. The referee blew the play dead before the ball hit the back of the net because of contact on a Hawks defender.
Sharing the shutout are the two field hockey goalkeeper rookies: Grade 9 student Danaya MacDuff, who played the first half, and Grade 11 student Denniella Rivard, who went in the second. Rivard had a resounding kick out save on a shot, which went past her defenders and the Hurricanes attackers well out of the circle and away from danger.
Smith appreciates the win and recognizes the effort to shoot more this game, but said the team will be working on a few things.
“We’re not where we need to be, but a much better performance by the ladies on shots inside. Outside the 23 we’re trying to emphasize on getting shots inside the circle,” he said.
He said the team can work on its set plays such as the short-corner plays and to simplify the approach inside the opposing team’s circle to do away with the “one extra move ... as opposed to getting a shot away.”
He said the senior players continue to mentor the rookies, helping him with their development as players. Everyone is getting playing time. No one is left on the bench, he said.
For all of the seemingly bad luck, particularly with their last 1-nil loss to the Mustangs, this game was an example when thing went the Hawks’ way.
“I told them: You’re going to get some bounces sometimes and sometimes you’re not. Today was our day to get some bounces,” he said.