GREENFIELD — It was clear from the opening whistle Monday that the Greenfield field hockey team hadn’t forgotten how its season ended a year ago.
Meeting up in last year’s Western Mass. Division II championship with a potential fourth straight trip to the state tournament on the line, Frontier pulled off a 1-0 double-OT victory that ended the Green Wave’s three-year run as Western Mass champs.
Without a tournament this year, the two rivals squared off for the first and only time this season Monday, and Greenfield turned the tides against the Red Hawks. The hosts scored twice in the game’s first two minutes and never looking back, earning a 5-0 victory on a blustery day.
“They’ve been waiting to play this game since the Western Mass. finals last year,” Wave coach Erin Thayer said. “[Goalie Ainslee Flynn] wasn’t going to let one go by today. They never give up, especially against Frontier. The rivalry is a strong, rich rivalry which has been around since I played a long time ago.”
Greenfield senior Katie Haselton had a hand in three of the game’s first four goals, putting two in the cage herself and assisting on another. Her second goal came with 45 seconds remaining in the first half off a dish from Kaylah Eggsware, as Haselton just needed to flick it into the back of the net for an important milestone.
The goal provided Haselton’s 100th career point, making her just one of five girls in school history to reach the milestone.
“It feels awesome to be able to get it even though our season got cut short,” Haselton said. “It’s stressful to try to get it but it wasn’t a top worry for me. I just wanted to go undefeated this season. It was a team effort. It started with Kaylah out here. There were three or four people who touched it before me, so it started with other people before I got it.”
Haselton entered her senior season with 76 points. With fewer games on the schedule, the midfielder knew that getting to 100 points was going to be a challenge, but she managed to accomplish the feat with still one game to spare.
Thayer was thrilled her star senior was able to reach the milestone.
“This is a kid who is seriously going to be missed from our program,” Thayer said. “She’s been our starting center midfielder, one of the most important positions on the field, since she was in eighth grade. She’s right up at the top in terms of players I’ve coached.”
Greenfield got itself on the scoreboard just 34 seconds into the action. The ball scurried into the circle and fell onto the stick of Amber Taylor, who put it into the back of the cage. Just 51 seconds later, Haselton had the ball on the right side of the circle and fired a rocket at the goal, zipping past Frontier keeper Ella Flanders. In the blink of an eye, the Wave were out to a 2-0 lead.
The lead stayed at two until Haselton’s milestone goal in the final minute of the half, as Flanders, who came away with 16 saves in the contest, continued to make key saves to keep the Red Hawks within striking distance.
“Our communication was great out there,” Haselton said. “Everybody touched the ball. The first two goals, it touched the defenders and midfielders and forwards before it went in which is awesome because everybody was a part of it. One person scores it but everyone contributes to it.”
The fourth Greenfield goal came with 12:09 to play, as Haselton fired a pass to Taylor and she notched her second tally of the contest. The Wave didn’t strike again until the 1:45 mark of the fourth quarter when Taylor got a breakaway and dished to a wide open Madyson Kuchieski, who found the back of the cage to close out the scoring.
It was an aggressive attack from Greenfield throughout, keeping the ball on the Frontier side of the field for the majority of the contest. There were a few lapses in the second half that Thayer wasn’t happy about, but the Green Wave recovered from them and kept the Red Hawks from getting on the board.
“We were getting tired,” Thayer said. “We were lazy. We weren’t getting outside or into the passing lanes the way we need to. I didn’t do a lot of subbing, but they wanted to be out there to keep fighting so I let them do it. Th ey adjusted the way they needed to and kept the pressure on.”
Frontier had a few great chances late to break the shutout, but Flynn was locked in between the pipes for Greenfield. Devyn Prusak had what looked like an open cage to shoot at in the fourth quarter, but Flynn flew across the crease to come away with the stop. Later, Emily DeMaio appeared to have another open net, but Flynn slid across to make the stop and preserve the shutout.
Frontier closes out its season Wednesday when it travels to play at Mohawk Trail while Greenfield has one game remaining, on the road at Pioneer next week.