By John Anderson
Déjà vu, that’s all I keep thinking. The Rockets are in their second straight field hockey state championship game in the second year of Auburn Mass Daily. And, playing Watertown again. Who woulda thunk?
From my first article, I made it clear that this year’s team is not last year’s team. The chemistry may be different, but the winning formula is the same. This year’s team plays differently. They certainly don’t have the quick scoring of Jamie McNamara, but they do have a relentless offense and an excellent defense. The persistent offense seems to wear down goalies, and the rock solid defense has helped keeper Abby Lucas earn another 14 shutouts.
Many of Auburn’s wins have seen only a couple of shots on net from their opponents, and this is largely due to the defense anchored by Captain Carly Zona. Starters Shannon Hynes, Kileigh Hynes, Rachel Stelmach, and Maddie Lucier round out the protection around Auburn’s net.
Field hockey, of course, is a very fluid game, and mid-fielders Jackie Clark and Tayla Foulkrod along with forwards Casey Gurlitz, Jess Clifford and Jordan Lavallee can be found anywhere on the field as needed. Although the bench has contributed a lot this season, the eleven starters mentioned here do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Coach Bethann Cormier set up a schedule that challenged her team. The games against D1 opponents accounted for all 3 losses and one tie in the Rockets’ 17-3-3 record. Against D2 teams, Auburn has been nearly flawless with all 17 wins and 2 more ties. In the Hometeam leaders, Lavalle and Kileigh Hynes each have 18 points while Clifford has 11. Lucas has the lead position for goalies in SWCL with an average of 0.61 goals against her per game.
During Wednesday’s semi-final game against Frontier Regional, Auburn faced a tough team with a lot of heart. Even after Auburn scored with just over 4 minutes left in the game, the Red Hawks continued to play tough and push down the field.
Auburn’s goal was initiated by a shot from Shannon Hynes. Carly Zona was at the left post, picked up the ball, and sent it banging into the goal. Up to this point, and although the Rockets dominated the game, a single misstep could have given Frontier the win. Fortunately, it didn’t go that way.
Watertown is one of the state’s best teams, and they have twice-beat Auburn 1-0 in the state final. Maybe Sunday will be different. Let’s think positive as Auburn’s new champion team hits the field.