Westtown – West Chester Rustin’s field hockey squad is off to a 5-0-1 start this fall after its 5-2 win against visiting Octorara Thursday afternoon in a Ches-Mont American League matchup.
With the victory, the Golden Knights have already surpassed their victory total from last fall, in which they posted a 4-10-4 mark.
“This is a great group of girls,” said Rustin first-year head coach Susie Macciocca, a veteran mentor who is Director of NXT Field Hockey. “Going into this season, one of the things I emphasized to our players was that they should have some fun out there.”
On Thursday, the Golden Knights (5-0-1, 3-0) held a slim 2-1 lead against Octorara (3-2-1, 1-1-1), then really had some fun early in the second half, exploding for three goals in a four-minute span.
“In the first half, even though we were passing well, our energy was down, and Octorara’s defense was tough,” said Macciocca. “In the second half, we relaxed and executed particularly well on our spacing and passing.”
Octorara fired the first shot Thursday. With 19:49 left in the first half, Braves forward Miranda Carr scored with an assist from senior Paige Lowry, an All-Ches-Mont American League second team midfielder last fall.
Although Octorara had an 11-5 advantage in corners Thursday, Rustin made the most of its opportunities in this area, scoring three goals on corners. The first of these came just two minutes after Octorara scored, off the stick of Rustin left midfielder Marie Gazillo, with an assist from left center mid Alexis Schambers.
With 3:37 to go before halftime, Rustin’s Skylar Alcaro scored, assisted by junior left forward Blaise Cugini, to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
Cugini, who finished the day with two assists and one goal, said, “Once we went ahead 2-1, I felt like we’d keep scoring. We had a lot of connections today – our passes were working.”
Six minutes into the second half, Rustin began its scoring barrage, scoring twice on corners just one minute apart. With 23:30 to play, right midfielder Amanda Harkins scored on a corner (assist from right center mid Shannon Drakeley), then with 22:28 left Katherine Heilman tallied with an assist from Cugini.
Macciocca said, “I thought our execution on those two corners was excellent.”
With 20:37 left, Cugini got open in front of the net and scored on an assist from Carly Truett to make it 5-1.
“Blaise is all energy all the time, has great stick work and is very creative in front of the net – she can score in multiple ways,” said Macciocca.
Another advantage for Rustin was the fine play of senior goalie Caitlin Barker. The East Stroudsburg commit, who received second team All-Ches-Mont American League honors last fall, recorded 15 saves Thursday.
On the Octorara side, Braves first year head coach Jalisa Torres hoped that Thursday’s result would be a learning experience for her squad.
“We have some very skilled players, but when other teams score on us, we can’t sit back on our heels, we need to be more aggressive,” said Torres. “Today was a little disappointing, and we need to show a little more passion and desire.”
West Chester Rustin 5, Octorara 2
Octorara 1 1 – 2
West Chester Rustin 2 3 – 5
Octorara goals: Carr, Lowry.
West Chester Rustin goals: Gazillo, Alcaro, Harkins, Heilman, Cugini.
Goalie saves: DeStephano (OCT) 5, Barker (WCR) 15.
Corners: OCT 11, WCR 5.