READING — In a close battle between seven and 10 seeds, the seventh-seeded Reading High field hockey team had just enough left through regulation play, two overtimes, and penalty shots to finally outlast a tough challenge and come out on top.
After battling through 60 minutes of regulation play and two 10-minute overtimes, the game came down to penalty shots. The Lady Rockets scored twice in five shots, to come away with a 2-1 victory over 10th-seeded Canton, in a Round of 16 Division 2 state tournament game at Hollingsworth Field Monday.
Reading (12-3-3) will now make an 85-mile trip to play No. 2 Falmouth (14-1-5) in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
With the score tied 1-1 at the end of regulation play and two overtimes, each team had five penalty shots. While Canton failed to score on each of its five shots, Maddie Rzepka scored on Reading’s third shot, before Maddie Egan scored on the fifth and final shot to secure the decision for the Lady Rockets.
“I was so nervous and scared, but we had practiced penalty shots before, so I knew what I wanted to do,” said Rzepka. “As I moved in I saw where the goalie was going to be, and I moved around the goalie and shot it into the net.”
Goalie Myles Lakin stopped all five penalty shots and also had five saves, while Ava Goodwin scored Reading’s lone goal during regulation play, to help Reading survive a tough challenge, and move on to the quarterfinal round.
“It was a tough game as Canton really gave us a strong challenge, but I feel it was our determination and toughness that helped us win this game,” said Reading coach Taylor Reynolds. “We were aggressive to the ball, made nice passes in the open field, and played good defense and applied pressure on their net.”
Goalie Carolyn Durand had eight saves, while Izzy Digiralamo scored the lone goal for Canton.
Neither team had many scoring chances until there were two minutes left in the first quarter, when Canton threatened off a corner, but a shot by Sarah Cunningham was kicked aside by Lakin to keep Canton off the board.
Then right at the end of the first quarter the Lady Rockets had their first scoring chance when Elizabeth Quirbach made a good centering pass from the left of the net to Goodwin, but her shot sailed just wide of the net.
“I just felt we had to stay within ourselves, since in the tournament there are a lot of nerves,” said Rzepka. “We were a little flustered at first, but then we just settled down, and played the way we were capable of playing.”
The Lady Rockets gained more of an edge in play in the second quarter, and had another good chance to score five minutes into the stanza. Lily Stanton made a nice centering pass to Rzepka off a corner, but her high shot was batted away by Durand to keep the game scoreless through halftime.
“We started to control the game more in the second quarter, and got more scoring opportunities,” said Reynolds. “But Canton’s goalie made some good saves, while their defensive backs did a good job knocking our shots into the circle away from the net.”
In the first two minutes of the third quarter Rzepka literally took control of the game. First she moved the ball within the circle to create a corner, then off the ensuing centering pass Rzepka wacked a low drive in front of the net which Goodwin deflected into the far corner, to give Reading a 1-0 lead.
“I knew Ava (Goodwin) would be there, and I just sent the ball toward her, and hope for the best,” said Rzepka. “Fortunately she was right there to knock it in.”
But Reading’s lead proved to be short-lived, for just a little over a minute later Canton gpt the tying goal. Maggie McCready moved the ball up the left side and snapped a low shot right in from of the net. Her drive deflected off a defensive back to Digiralamo, who backhanded it into the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Lady Rockets regained an edge in play later in the third quarter, and had a good chance in the final minute of the stanza. Maddie Egan created a corner within the circle, and off the centering pass Rzepka fired a drive that just sailed wide left of the cage, to keep the game tied at the end of the third quarter.
The Lady Rockets had two more scoring chances in the fourth quarter, as Rzepka carried the ball up the left sideline before firing a centering pass right across the front of the net, which Olivia Chamberlain just missed deflecting it into the net.
Canton had a chance to score with two minutes left in the fourth quarter when Erin Lane got to a loose ball to the right of the circle and fired a drive on net, but Lakin was there to kick the shot aside, to preserve the tie through the end of regulation play.
The Lady Rockets had a good chance in the first 10-minute overtime when Brooke Golden got the ball to the right of the net, but her low drive was knocked away by Durand. Then in the second extra session Rzepka move up the left side and fired a shot that went just wide left of the net.
The game then came down to penalty shots, and while Lane, Ellie Bohane, Lily Carlino, Cunningham, and Payton McDonough all had shots on net, Lakin met each challenge and stopped each shot. This left it up to Rzepka and Egan, who scored for Reading on Reading’s third and fifth shots respectively to give Reading the win.
“I felt Natalie Wall and Solana O’Shea played very well defensively which was very big in helping us win the game,” said Reynolds. “Myles (Lakin) had some big saves in the penalty shots, and overall I think we just wanted it a little more with aggressive play than Canton did which was big for us.”
* Reading went on to lose at second-seeded Falmouth, a 2-0, on Thursday.