The Valley Regional field hockey squad played two overtime games in the Shoreline Conference Tournament last week, winning against Westbrook in the semis and then losing to North Branford in the championship game. The Warriors now have a record of 10-3-2-1 as they get ready to compete in this week’s Class S State Tournament.
Last week, the Warriors first went up against Westbrook at home in the Shoreline semifinals and prevailed in overtime by a score of 2-1 on Oct. 31. Then on Nov. 2, Valley played North Branford for the conference title at the Indian River Complex in Clinton and took a 2-1 defeat in OT.
Even with the defeat, Valley Head Coach Beth Powers felt pleased with the way her team performed against the undefeated Thunderbirds, who have been a powerhouse in the Shoreline Conference this season.
“We played well. I’m certainly super happy with our play,” said Coach Powers. “Every coach would like the outcome to be a little different. It doesn’t take away from the kids playing super in that game.”
Valley opened the scoring in the first half with a goal from junior Annie Cooper off an assist from sophomore Riley Millburne on a penalty corner. The Warriors didn’t give up much of anything in the first half as junior goalie Mia Cost, who had nine saves in the game, held her ground in the cage. However, as the final seconds of the half ticked away, the Thunderbirds scored a goal to tie the game at 1-1.
The second half was scoreless as both teams played staunch defense and limited each other’s chances, resulting in an overtime period. On a penalty corner in the extra session, North Branford worked the ball into a place with some space to operate and, after a breakaway, Amy Raucci scored a goal that gave the Thunderbirds the victory and a conference title.
Coach Powers tipped her cap to North Branford and its effective style of play that’s centered around a pinpoint passing game. Powers felt that North Branford’s ability to move ball and control the field was what ultimately led to the victory, although she’s still a huge fan of her own team’s abilities, as well.
“They have a very specific game-plan and they play excellent as a unit, however, I think we have a little more skill. They play a very precise passing game, and they execute it well,” said Coach Powers. “They’re really good at what they do. We’re a little more well-rounded and have different skills. They do exactly what they are supposed to do exactly when they are supposed to do it. It makes them a very formidable opponent.”
Earlier in the week, the Warriors scored a victory against another familiar foe in defending Shoreline Conference Tournament champion Westbrook. Valley netted the game’s first goal when Millburne scored off an assist from freshman Tory Rider. Westbrook scored shortly after on an unassisted goal, making it 1-1.
In overtime, Valley earned a penalty corner. Senior captain Emily Peterson took a shot at the goal, and Millburne tipped it in for the victory.
Coach Powers was excited to see her team earn such an important victory, and felt that both clubs turned in exceptional performances.
“Both squads get up for our games. We’re very evenly matched,” said Powers, whose squad will play in the Class S State Tournament this week. “It could go either way on any given day, and we just happened to have the positive outcome on that day.”