WEST GROVE—With the field hockey season past the halfway mark and approaching the final stretch, every team is looking to smooth out the rough spots and getting geared up to make a final run at a slot in the District 1 tourney, or simply have themselves playoff ready. You can’t look past anyone, regardless of the records, particularly in the Ches-Mont.
Coming into Thursday’s Oxford-Avon Grove game, the Hornets had just two wins on the season, but still have an outside shot at sneaking into one of the 24 slots in Class 3A. The Red Devils, meanwhile, were looking to improve on their current position as the number 16 seed.
Oxford played about as tough as one could hope, particularly in the second half, but the Devils slipped in a first period goal for the only score of the game as Avon Grove (8-4, 1-3) held on for a 1-0 win over the Hornets (2-10-1, 0-7).
“This was a really evenly matched game that came down to who was really going to bring the fire,” said Devils’ coach Giuliana Antignmi. “Our attack was on point tonight, and that really made the difference in being able to get a goal and come out with a win.”
The first half was wide open, with momentum swinging back and forth throughout, but neither team was one was able to capitalize on opportunities for most of the period. Each team managed to force three penalty corners, but couldn’t find the back of the cage on any of the opportunities.
With time ticking down in the half, the Devils’ Emma McColley bested her Hornet defender in a footrace up the left side, and having gained a step and an opening, sent a cross over in front of the cage. Lila Colley picked it up, took a shot, and Sue Saienna grabbed the rebound and slipped in it for the score.
“I saw the cross coming towards me and knew I had to be ready,” said Saienna. “I knew we had to get a goal when we had this shot, so I did everything I could to make it happen. Everyone needed to work together to get this done. “
Coming out of the break, the Hornets picked up the pace, and kept the action on its offensive side of the field for much of the final thirty minutes. Oxford outshot the Devils in the period 9-3, and forced 7 corners to just 4 for Avon Grove.
“We’re getting most of the big things right,” said Oxford coach AnneMarie Anderson. “We dictated the offense, but just couldn’t get it in the cage. We have to work on the little things—making the kinds of touches that put it in the cage. We need to fine tune, but I’m really proud of the way these girls played today.”
Despite the pressure getting kicked up several notches, the Devils didn’t flinch, and can credit the defense for the shutout win.
“We tried to keep calm and be consistent with our clears,” said Devils goalie Phoebe Wilson, who is credited with 12 saves on the night. “And not panic, just communicate when it came down on our end. We have a lot of new players and coaches this year, and I think we’re playing really well right now, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Oxford 0 0 – 0
Avon Grove 1 0 –1
Goalie Saves: Bartos (O) 5, Wilson (AG) 12