What a way to wrap up the season!! On a beautiful day here at Deerfield, the girls took the field for the last time and were determined to finish up strong. The team was excited and confident, and if they had any pre-game jitters you couldn’t tell. As Coach DiNardo had reminded the team during the week, this final game marked the culmination of all the hard work, all the extra practice, and all the physical conditioning that had been done throughout the season. All that was left to do was to go out, play hard, and have fun, and leave it all on the field. And that they did, earning an impressive 13-9 victory over a talented team from Exeter.
The game started well for us, as we were productive on our first few ball possessions and scored two early goals. Coming into the game we knew that Exeter was particularly strong at the goalie position, so it was a great beginning to get our first two shots past their starter and put a dent in her confidence. This would not last long, however, as their goalie soon found her groove and started making some great saves. The Exeter offense started to click as well, and they quickly tied things up at 2-2.
We knew we had our hands full but the girls continued to rise to the challenge. Julia Placek ‘20 scored an early goal on a scrappy inside move on a crease roll, and Mary Edmonds ‘19 had the other side of the field covered by always being a threat to drive from the right side of the goal. Individual efforts like these as well as sharp feeds on called plays continued to put us in a position to score. This balanced attack helped us build a noticeable lead by the end of the first half, assisted by our steady and strong defense and some great goaltending from Maggie Tydings ‘20. The score at the break was 10-4, but if felt a lot closer than that. The whole team knew it would have to play a full game to pull out this win.
We came out swinging in the second half and managed to score first and extend the lead. But then Exeter came rolling back, with three unanswered tallies of their own, bringing the game to 11-7. Exeter had a particularly speedy midfielder who was difficult to mark, and she scored twice on near-identical goals. But draw controls were going in our favor, with Christina, Bailey and Mimi as tough on the circle as they have been all year. One of the draw highlights was when Christina took control with a reaching, one-handed grab and swept into a fast break that, after two crisp passes and a well-placed shot, turned into a goal. On the other side of the field we continued our aggressive player-to-player defense. Sometimes we were a little too aggressive, though, and we chalked up a few penalties. Impressively, the girls continued to play hard but made the needed adjustments to keep a tighter rein on their stick checks and limited body contact.
A memorable moment in the second half was a highlight reel save by Maggie. An Exeter breakaway had turned into a one-on-one with Exeter’s speedy midfielder coming in for an uncontested shot on goal. But Maggie read her stick, predicted the fake and stuffed the high shot. Furthermore, she controlled the rebound and quickly sent the ball back up the field to the offense for another Big Green goal. This was a big moment in the game, as it kept the Big Red at bay and helped us pull away a little more. Maggie has been tough in the net all season, but she certainly seemed to save the best for last.
It was a terrific feeling to watch the girls work hard and run out the clock on the game, and the season as well. We couldn’t have asked for a better ending, and it was a wonderful way to honor our remarkable Class of 2019. All seven of them will be missed greatly next year, on campus, in the locker room and on the field. Captains Bailey Cheetham and Margaret Williams and their classmates Mae Emerson, Katherine Bowman, Meredith Heaney, Mary Edmonds and Mimi Pastor built a culture of work, fun, and success that will be their legacy for many years to come.