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Molly Zaffino and the Hornets’ field hockey team posted wins versus Masuk and Pomperaug to move into the semifinal round of the Class M State Tournament. Zaffino scored a goal for Branford in each of the two victories. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Scout Engstrom (right) netted a pair of goals when the Branford field hockey squad earned a 4-0 victory over Masuk in its Class M State Tournament opener on Nov. 12. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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The Branford field hockey team advanced to the semifinal round of the Class M State Tournament by winning its first two games in the draw last week. The Hornets notched a 4-0 win over Masuk in first-round action and then claimed a 2-0 victory versus Pomperaug in the quarterfinals to advance to face Guilford in the semis. Branford has an overall record of 13-6-0-1 on the season.
No. 5 seed Branford began the Class M State Tournament by hosting No. 12 seed Masuk for a first-round game on Nov. 12. The Hornets blanked the Panthers by the final score of 4-0 at Branford High School to move on to the quarterfinals.
Freshman Scout Engstrom netted a pair of goals for Branford in the victory. Senior Molly Zaffino and sophomore Nora Longway scored one goal apiece. Senior Brianna Shaw dished out two assists, while sophomore Julia McHenry had one assist. Senior goalie Gianna Messina made two saves to get the shutout in net.
Head Coach Pete Frye said that senior Karly King, senior Alexis Pepe, junior Jocelyn Smestad, sophomore Katie Laska, and freshman Lauren Kendrick played great games to help the Hornets prevail.
Branford held a 3-0 advantage over Masuk at halftime. Engstrom put the Hornets on the board when she scored a goal from Shaw with 14:14 remaining in the first half. Eight minutes later, Engstrom scored her second goal on another Shaw assist to make it 2-0. With 1:09 to play until halftime, Zaffino scored an unassisted goal to put Branford up 3-0 at the break.
In the second half, Longway scored a goal on an assist by McHenry to increase the Hornets’ lead to 4-0 with 19:47 to go in the game.
Then on Nov. 14, Branford traveled to Southbury to face No. 4 seed Pomperaug in the Class M quarterfinals. The Hornets posted their second shutout of the tournament by earning a 2-0 victory over Pomperaug, sending Branford to the semis.
Shaw and Zaffino both scored goals for the Hornets in the win. Engstrom and Shaw each contributed an assist. Messina stopped four shots in goal to record another shutout.
Coach Frye said that Branford also received outstanding performances from a number of other players, including senior Maggie Martin and freshman Gianna Bozzi. Frye added that Zaffino, King, Pepe, Laska, Smestad, and Longway each made key contributions for the Hornets in the quarterfinal victory.
Following a scoreless first half, Shaw netted the first goal of the game when she scored on an assist from Engstrom with 23:03 remaining in the contest. With 16:12 left in the game, Zaffino gave Branford some insurance when she scored from Shaw to make the score 2-0 in favor of the Hornets.
Branford played No. 1 seed Guilford in the semifinals of the Class M State Tournament at Cheshire High School on Nov. 19 (after press time). If the Hornets defeat the Indians, they will face the winner of No. 7 Hand and No. 14 Bethel in the Class M state final at Wethersfield High School on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Branford qualified for the Class M State Tournament by putting together a record of 10-5-0-1 during the regular season. Prior to playing in states, the Hornets competed in the SCC Tournament as the No. 3 seed. Branford earned a 3-0 home win against No. 6 Mercy in the quarterfinals before taking a 3-1 loss at No. 2 Amity in the semifinals of the tournament.
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