Monday, September 18, 2017

MIAA Field Hockey Notebook: Week 3

Winchester ended Watertown's historic win streak last week.
By Marisa Ingemi (@Marisa_Ingemi)

Watertown field hockey lost for the first time in nearly a decade. That narrative remains true, but there’s another one that the team that defeated them is looking at.

Winchester won.

Goals from Madison Micchie, Niki Micchie, and Clare Moloney-Kolenberg carried the Sachems past Watertown to improve their then-record to 2-0; since then, they are 4-0 and looking like one of the real contenders in the North section of Division 1.

The Sachems are the first team to slay the Watertown dragon since 2008, as the Raiders' streak of games without a loss ended at 184. While the Sachems certainly recognize how incredible it was to knock off a team like Watertown, Winchester still has more important things to worry about this season.

“We talked about it afterwards, and it is just one game,” said head coach Michelle White. “We want to come out strong every game. We played well the next day against Burlington and then Lexington, we were scoreless for 20 minutes at first, and then they settled down and played really well.”

It’s a game that didn’t come out of left field for the Sachems, who have been playing well since last season. From the get go, Winchester was peppering shots on net against all-star goalie Jonna Kennedy, and dictating the play of the game.

Winchester wasn’t exactly overwhelming, but it did play with a confidence that teams don’t usually have against Watertown.

The two wins following the Watertown victory were positive signs for the Sachems, who kept an even keel, even with the confidence that they can beat a team of that caliber.

“I’m proud of the kids and the way they played,” said White. “I don’t know if we were dominant, but we gave ourselves every opportunity to win that game. I’m not surprised, but I mean, I don’t know what team can go in with 184 games without a loss. They’re excellent. But we were confident and allowed the aura of Watertown to take up little space in our head.”

Some might take it as a statement victory for Winchester, and it certainly was, but the Sachems didn’t need just that win to validate their place as one of the best field hockey teams in the state.

The Sachems came into this season knowing they could be pretty good. Returning seven seniors, six of them starters, following a run to the D1 North semifinals last season, Winchester brought back a roster worthy of title contention in 2017.

Madison Micchie, a senior captain, has already continued her pace from last season, and her younger sister Niki already has two goals this season.

“We gave her a spot as a freshman coming off the bench,” said White. “She scored against Watertown and has instantly provided a spark.”

A sophomore goalie in net, Brooke Ross, has been a “brickhouse” according to White, not allowing a tally yet this season. Charley Miller and Mariah Redler have also been key contributors for the Sachems this year on the offensive end.

Even for what this team has already accomplished, there is more to learn.

“They’re playing well, but there’s still a learning curve,” said White. “We don’t want to peak in the second game against Watertown. We will be playing some of the best teams in Division 1, and that’s when we want to be playing our best hockey.”

A preseason loss for Watertown had some believing this might be the game the Raiders would lose. Winchester found itself in a position to win with one of the deepest rosters it has fielded in some time.

“In the past we had certain positions that were weaker, and this year we have 11 players on the field who can compete with anyone,” said White. “After the loss to Acton-Boxboro in the semifinals, we felt strongly we could come in this season and compete with everyone.”

Now that Watertown has been knocked off, eyes have been turned to the Sachems for accomplishing the feat. The win over Lexington, another top ten team in the state, also proved impressive. Winchester went up 2-0 early before a rain delay, and held on to win, 3-0.

That ability to focus on the other games on the schedule can be attributed to the senior leadership of a group that has made deep runs. The win over the Raiders was just the second game on a schedule of 18, leaving Winchester’s mission far from over.

“There’s 14 more games,” said White. “Lexington was a huge deal to win without being flat. It’s the first step, beating a team like Watertown, but we have bigger goals.”

Players of the Week

Brooke Findlay, Lincoln-Sudbury:
The sophomore tallied twice before playing in the crease in the second half in a 7-0 win over Newton South. The Warriors have been using a goalie rotation all season with their starter out.

Lauren Noonan, Woburn: The goalie made 40 saves in a 4-0 loss against Belmont. Despite the loss, her play in the crease is one of the highlights for any goalkeeper all season.

Eileen Manning, Needham: Manning scored three goals in a 5-0 win against Brookline early in the week to help the Rockets improve to 5-0.

Top 20 Poll

1. Acton-Boxboro
2. Walpole
3. Winchester
4. Watertown
5. Andover
6. Needham
7. Dennis Yarmouth
8. Lexington
9. Foxborough
10. Ipswich
11. Manchester Essex
12. Sandwich
13. Wellesley
14. King Philip
15. Belmont
16. Lincoln-Sudbury
17. Chelmsford
18. Triton
19. Central Catholic
20.Oliver Ames

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