By John Anderson
With a 5-1 win over Lunenburg High School on Friday, the Auburn High Field Hockey Team clinched the MIAA Central District Division 2 title for the third consecutive year. This game was a far cry from when these teams last met. It was the first playoff round of 2012, and #11 Lunenburg (8-7-2) upset #6 Auburn (15-1-2). That loss was a total shock for the Rockets, and the 2015 team obviously had no intention of allowing a repeat performance.
And yet, with 14:10 left in the first half, things got bunched up in front of the Auburn net as they were unable to clear the ball out of the circle. Lunenburg took advantage and scored. Suddenly the game was 1-0, the same score as the final in 2012. It was also the first time this season that an opponent scored first.
In 2012, this year’s seniors were freshman, and most were standing on the sideline as junior varsity players supporting their upperclassmen on the field. This year, seniors made the difference with one notable exception, junior Kileigh Hynes. With 3:49 left in the first half, she scored an unassisted goal to tie it up. Both teams went into the second, 1-1.
The second half was all Rockets, and corners had a huge impact. Corners weren’t needed, however, to win the game, but they certainly gave Auburn some incentive, 15 times.
With 22:43 left, Jess Clifford scored on a corner with an assist by Jackie Clark. Exactly a minute later, Shannon Hynes shot the ball home on another corner. Clifford had the assist this time.
At 10:25, Clark shot the only non-corner of the second half with Kileigh Hynes assisting. The last goal was on a corner by Madison Lucier who was brought up to help in the circle. Shannon Hynes had the assist.
The Blue Devils certainly deserve credit for playing one tough game, but they couldn’t capitalize except for that initial score. Abby Lucas recorded 5 saves during the game, and she experienced some very challenging moments in front of the net.
The Rockets will face the Western Mass Champion, Frontier Regional, on Tuesday at 5:00pm in Grafton. The D1 contenders, Nashoba and Longmeadow, will play at 7:00pm. Last year, Auburn defeated Frontier in a well-matched game, 1-0.
As a factual note (and a possible reason to do some realigning next year), Frontier played 2 playoff games to get to the Central/Western game. Auburn played 4 times.
Good luck Auburn!