WILMINGTON – When the MIAA said that among the modifications and changes to high school field hockey would include teams playing 7-vs-7, you immediately knew that more offense would happen in games.
On Monday morning that happened in terms of scoring opportunities, but not actually in goals. Wilmington absolutely peppered Wakefield goalie Abigail Boudreau to a tune of 38 shots – yes 38, that's not a typo – and the Wildcats managed just one goal as part of the 1-0 win.
Boudreau was terrific and she also played with a very aggressive and unorthodox style, coming well out of her net, while one of her defenders stood at the goal behind her.
“That was different for sure,” said Wilmington head coach Leanne Ebert. “They had their defender behind their goalie so that was different. It was definitely different and I think it threw the girls off a little bit, especially early on. We talked about it at halftime and I feel like they adjusted to it. They tried to pull the goalie (away from the net) and tried to use the open space. They were working on it and certainly played strong today. I feel like our girls never quit. We had 38 shots on net so they never quit, they kept it together and they played as a true team.
“In the second half, they did a better job of communicating, which I think helped pull things together. They were also switching positions, especially in the backfield so I think that's helpful with this new formation (of 7-on-7).”
Of the 38 shots, 18 of them came off the stick of Rita Roche, who actually didn't score the goal. She had several terrific bids and ideas, going really high on several chances, which included one shot nailing the top crossbar.
“Rita was amazing,” said Ebert. “She did an unbelievable job. You could tell that she was hungry and that she wanted it. She never quit and she put her all out there. We tried to tell them to change it up and not just throw it at her pads. Sometimes we tell them to hit it at her pads so someone can make a mistake, but in this situation, we told them to change it up — do a pull back or something to change things up to throw them off.”
The game was scoreless after the first quarter and remained that way after the second quarter, despite the Wildcats putting 10 shots on net with Roche and Chase Andersen both having strong bids which were denied. At the other end, Wilmington's goalie Johanna Robinson came up big making 4 saves throughout the game, including one gem on a 2-on-0 break. Later in the fourth quarter, her defenders including Andersen and Nokomis Bramantecohen and before that Zoe DeRose, all stopped either odd-rushes or 1-on-1 battles.
“We're working a lot on that stuff in practice, the 2-vs-1, the 3-vs-2 situations because that's what happens in games. Johanna had a couple of real nice saves especially when it came down to it and she was under pressure,” said Ebert.
Just three minutes into the third quarter, Wilmington did get on the scoreboard as an initial shot was saved and after the ball bounced off a few sticks, it rolled through the crease where Ida Bishop was there to put it home for her third goal in as many games.
Wilmington continued to mount the offensive pressure the rest of the way but Boudreau was terrific, especially down low with her kick out saves.
“Wakefield certainly had a strong defense but I feel like our girls worked really hard. They never gave up, they kept working hard and I'm so proud of them. We're 3-0 and historically Wakefield has had the upper hand on us but today the girls rose above and broke that. I give them a lot of credit and I'm just very proud of all of them,” said Ebert.
The win puts Wilmington at 3-0, while outscoring opponents 8-1 while, six different players have scored at least one goal.