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Withington, Mascoma call the tune in field hockey quarterfinals

  • Brianna Withington

  • Sophia Guziewicz

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 10/25/2020 7:17:46 PM
Modified: 10/25/2020 7:22:37 PM

WEST CANAAN — Brianna Withington had extra motivation heading into Mascoma High’s field hockey playoff game on Sunday: singing the national anthem.

It was a big day for the junior who belted out the Star-Spangled Banner, then scored the NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game’s only goal, lifting the Royals past Stevens, 1-0.

“I usually get super pumped-up from it,” said Withington, who also sang before playing in several basketball games last winter. “We started doing national anthem this year for field hockey because we have a flag now and I was like, ‘Why not for a playoff game? Just do it.’ ”

Withington’s goal, her fifth in five consecutive games, lifted past Stevens goalie Alex Perez with 7:36 remaining in the first quarter.

“I thought it was going out,” Withington said.

“But the goalie deflected it back at me and I just saw that corner, and I just lifted it right in.”

Perez, new to the goaltender position in her senior year, had a strong outing for the Cardinals, posting seven saves.

Mascoma (6-3-1) will face the winner of Monday’s quarterfinal game between Hopkinton and Bishop Brady at a home field to be determined by random draw. The semifinals, set for either Wednesday or Thursday depending on the venue, will provide the Royals with an opportunity to advance to a fourth consecutive D-III championship game (they won the title in 2018).

Sunday’s quarterfinal was a rematch of the season opener, which the Cardinals won, 1-0, in overtime.

“That was kind of a basis of what we knew like their strengths were and all of that,” said Mascoma coach, Jenn Hammond. “And then we had watched different tape of them playing, so we kind of had scouted their corners and who their stronger players were. We tried to take them out of their offensive equation by manning them up and taking away the middle, and that definitely seemed to work.”

Stevens (6-4-1) had perhaps its best chances of the afternoon on back-to-back penalty corners, about four minutes into the fourth quarter. In both instances, Zoey Foote found Julia Tursky for a shot at the top of the circle. The first attempt was kicked out by Mascoma goalie Emilie Conrad (two saves), and the second was swallowed up by a stingy Royals defense that was anchored in part throughout the contest by senior Sophia Guziewicz.

Bri Frisbee, who represented a strong scoring threat for Stevens and was thus a focal point of Hammond’s defense, spoke to her team’s performance following the loss.

“We really needed to get our sticks down in the circle,” Frisbee said. “We could have had more tip-ins and to talk more, but I think the team did really good overall and it was a good season for us.”

Notes: NHIAA’s D-III field hockey tournament was divided into four regions. Region Two included Mascoma, Stevens, Kearsarge and Newport. … Both teams attempted five penalty corners on Sunday. … The hosts overcame two penalties to the visitor’s none.

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