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H.S. Field Hockey: Pioneer downs Athol

  • Sallie Gilliland (black) talks with the Pioneer Valley Regional field hockey team after a 4-2 win over Athol High School, Monday in Northfield.  STAFF PHOTO/ADAM HARGRAVES

Staff Writer
Published: 9/16/2019 10:06:22 PM
Modified: 9/16/2019 10:06:16 PM

NORTHFIELD — The “Momma Bear” card had to come out, but the Pioneer Valley Regional field hockey team beat Athol High School, 4-2, on Monday in a Tri-County League matchup. 

The Panthers (3-1 overall, 3-1 TCL) played a Red Raiders team that had just 10 players available and no substitutes.

Pioneer twice faced deficits in the game but rallied.

“It wasn’t a clean ‘W,’” Pioneer coach Sallie Gilliland said. “Athol completely out-hustled us. We turned it on in the last five minutes of the game. I kind of had to pull the momma bear card out.”

The Panthers went with 10 players as well, and controlled play for most of the game. A late huddle during a timeout helped increase the pressure on Athol even more.

“That’s the reality of keeping our program together,” Gilliland said. “If I don’t get hard on them, then they are going to hold themselves to a certain standard when they are better than that.”

Jennie Fuller stayed hot offensively, scoring three goals for the Panthers.

“We went into the game thinking it was going to be an easy win,” Fuller said. “Knowing last minute that we are going to play down a man affected us. It was more running and adjusting to things but I am glad we won.”

The Red Raiders (1-2, 1-2) took the lead in the first half on a goal by Abby Kirwan. A long send from Sadey Lehtomaki near the sideline helped create the opportunity in front of the net for Kirwan.

“We had no subs,” Kirwan said. “We were tired but he had to be more aggressive. We had better passing. We did really well as a team.”

Fuller tied the game with no time left on the clock just before halftime after the Red Raiders could not get a clear during a flurry of penalty corners.

“That’s what got me going,” Fuller said of the goal.

Kirwan scored again to give Athol the lead again at 2-1. Lehtomaki controlled possession near the end line before centering a pass to Kirwan for her second of the contest.

“The group of girls I had on the field was a strong group,” Athol coach Emily Hall said. “I know they were exhausted but that’s no excuse.”

After giving up the lead again, the Panthers started peppering Athol’s defense. The hosts finished with 14 penalty corners on the day for their efforts.

“We are so young in our game,” Gilliland said. “We will figure it out, but this will not happen again.”

Avery Sargent also scored for the Panthers during a three-goal second half that allowed them to rally for the win. Sydney Unaitis (two) and Sofia Walker had assists. 

Athena Fowler-Shaw made one save in net for Pioneer to earn the victory. 

The Red Raiders got solid play in the midfield from Reily Polana, who disrupted several offensive opportunities by the Panthers to start advances up the field for her team.

“She can blow past anyone,” Hall said of Polana. 

Sam Kenniff stopped eight shots in net for the Red Raiders. Fuller had six shots in the first half, including one direct shot on net that Kenniff kicked away.

Kenniff made multiple saves on close-range shots before the go-ahead goal found the back of the net in the second half.

Pioneer 4, Athol 2









Goals: (A) Kirwan 2 (P) Fuller 3, A. Sargent.

Assists: (A) Lehtomaki 2 . (P) Unaitis 2 Walker

Shots: Athol 3. Pioneer 15.

Saves: (A) Kenniff 8 (P) Fowler-Shaw 1.

Corners: Athol 0. Pioneer 14

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