Rarely has the Lady Dragon field hockey team been challenged during the 2010 season, but finally it met its match.
After opening the play-offs with an 8-0 wipeout of Bridgewater-Raynham, the No. 2-seeded Lady Dragons took on the No. 10-seeded Wellesley Raiders on Sunday afternoon in Duxbury.
While Wellesleyâ€™s record (9-2-4) wouldnâ€™t generate any fear in the casual observer, upon closer review it was obvious that a team that had just two losses in the tough Bay State League could give Duxbury a battle as tough as any it faced this year.
Despite a record that showed two losses, both of those were 3-0 decisions to perennial powerhouse and No. 1 seed Walpole.
Allowing Duxbury just 11 shots on net, a stellar Wellesley defense strangled Duxburyâ€™s high-powered offense and eliminated the Lady Dragons from postseason play with a 2-0 shutout win, ending Duxburyâ€™s season at 18-2.
While Duxbury had 11 corners to Wellesleyâ€™s four, the advantage didnâ€™t show on the scoreboard, nor did it show in their play, as the Raiders cut down Duxburyâ€™s passing lanes and clogged the middle where the Lady Dragons had been so effective.
Earning half of their corners in the first 12 minutes, the Raiders kept the Duxbury offense at bay until five minutes were left in the half when the Lady Dragons came to life with three corners before the scoreless half came to an end.
Duxbury almost took the lead early in the second half when a Hannah Murphy shot rattled off the goal post, but the Wellesley defense tightened up to send the ball up the other end of the field where the Raiders earned their final two corners.
The swing in momentum proved costly, as Wellesley took advantage of its second corner when senior forward Paige Bashian converted the pass and beat Sophie Fitzpatrick for what proved to be the game-winner.
Coach Pam Manley called a timeout to settle her forces and it proved fruitful, as they immediately moved into the Wellesley end of the field and earned a pair of back-to-back corners.
The scoring opportunities became less frequent from that point on, as the quartet of Anna Seeler, captain Julia Flanigan, Tali Peretti, and sweeper Molly Connolly created a constant roadblock for the Duxbury offense.
With 10:10 to go the Raiders struck the fatal blow, as senior forward Libby Alvin barely beat Fitzpatrickâ€™s kick-out save to increase their lead to 2-0.
â€œThey jammed up the circle in front of the net and we couldnâ€™t find the openings,â€ said Manley. â€œThey were very aggressive, especially in the second half, and they seemed to be swarming in every aspect of the game. They certainly didnâ€™t make it any easier by double and triple-teaming us. Weâ€™re more of a finesse team, and when they knocked us off the ball we had a hard time staying on it.â€
The game marked the end of the high school field hockey careers of Briana Connolly, Kirsten Garvey, Casey Reinhart, Kara Falcone, Chelsea Michelson, Maggie Dunn, Sara Varano, Keri Gould, and Siobahn McCarthy.