By John Anderson

AHS.FHKY.4528

The Rockets stand behind a banner that was walked across the field by other Auburn athletes at the conclusion of the game. ©John R. Anderson

Coming into Saturday’s Central Division 2 Championship Game, Auburn did not have the best record, but they were certainly the team to watch. #1 Hopedale, 21-0, was feeling good and riding high after a very strong season while #6 Auburn, 15-3-3, was coming off tight, 2-1, playoff wins against Bromfield and Quaboag.

“A” may stand for Auburn, but it also stood for Aggressive in this contest. From the first ball contact, the Rockets never backed down from the competition and defended the same title they earned a year ago, MIAA Central Division 2 Champions. While the first half was scoreless, it was not without close calls at both ends. Hopedale can be very fast, and they are obviously a highly skilled team. Their drives were solid but often interrupted by the Rocket defense. Additionally, Auburn outshot the Blue Raiders 52-11.

The Rockets picked up their pace in the second half with shot after shot narrowly missing the goal. With about 7 minutes left and on a corner, Shannon Hynes sent the ball past the goalie and Kileigh Hynes shot it in from the post. After the game, Kileigh commented, “The ball was sent in from the side, and we try to get it to the post.” She added, “We knew we had to work hard today.” And, they did.

Kileigh burned nearly a minute and a half off the clock at the end of the game by following Coach Bethann Cormier’s direction to “take it to the corner.” Once there, she shielded the ball with her body and quickly tapped it back and forth. The Raiders tried multiple times to get the ball away but failed. When the final horn blew, the Rockets were ecstatic and champions once more.

Moving from #6 to #1 in a few playoff games is no easy feat. Coach Cormier said, “We challenged ourselves this year with a tough schedule. We knew we would probably lose some games, and I knew the girls wouldn’t like that feeling.”

Auburn will face Frontier Regional on Wednesday at 7:00pm in West Springfield at Clark Field. Of the three playoff teams in West Division 2, Frontier, 10-7-1, was ranked second. Frontier is located in South Deerfield and serves 4 towns. When asked about the upcoming Semi-Final, Coach Cormier said with a smile, “I didn’t look at that side of the schedule.” She’ll have to now. Good luck Rockets!

Auburn Mass Daily will run a slide show from Saturday’s game tomorrow.