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Second Time Is The Charm: Field Hockey Team Edges Masuk In Rematch



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The downside of facing the same tough team in consecutive games is ... well, taking on the challenging opponent two contests in a row. The upside, if a loss in game one: A chance at redemption in the rematch.

Newtown High School’s field hockey team did just that, avenging a hard-fought 3-2 loss at Masuk of Monroe on September 14 with a 2-1 victory over those same Panthers, at Blue & Gold Stadium, on September 17. The victory was Newtown’s first of the young season, and first for new Coach John Savage.

Being that the first Newtown-Masuk game counted only in the state standings and the second tilt was the South-West Conference matchup, impacting the SWC standings, the Nighthawks picked the right game in which to come out on top. This was a confidence-boosting win for the Nighthawks as Masuk returned most of its starting lineup from a year ago and this Newtown squad has many new faces in starting roles.

“I am certainly very happy for the first win. The team is very young and has worked very hard to compete against three very good teams. Being 0-3 did not sit well with anyone. Playing Masuk two games in a row was extremely challenging,” Savage said. “We have improved after each game and now feel we can compete with the teams in our league.

“The team worked very hard to get ready for our home game against Masuk. We allowed no goals on penalty corners despite giving Masuk 15 corners. We fought hard all game and came away with a 2-1 victory,” the coach added.

In the win, Newtown built a 2-0 lead on goals by Shannon Hegarty and Rachael Albrecht. Ellie Meyer and Alison Powers had the assists.

Masuk scored late in the third period and it was anybody’s game. “During the fourth quarter we played excellent defense. Wasn’t ‘til the end of the fourth did they mount a threat. Defense held strong,” said Savage, whose team still had work to do after the final buzzer and all zeros on the clock. The Hawks fended off an end-of-game penalty corner that, by rule, was played out after time expired.

“Defense was amazing and led by goalie Riley Alesevich. Rest of defense that held strong were Nella Walsh, Jenna Lagan, Mo Murphy, and Brooke Bulkley, who personally shut down Masuk’s All State attack player,” said Savage, referring to Masuk’s Molly Halliday.

Despite the outcome, Newtown gained some confidence in the first Masuk tilt.

Elleniore Schoen broke a scoreless tie, assisted by Abby Ihlefeld, early in the second quarter. Masuk answered when Izzy Viglione deposited a shot off a penalty corner setup with only 48 seconds left in the half. The Nighthawks did not waste any time going back in front with a cage-finder just 54 seconds out of the halftime break. Albrecht turned and whipped home a shot off Summer Harrell’s feed up the middle.

Masuk answered less than two minutes later, when Ella Bunovsky redirected a shot off a corner, and the game was tied again. Masuk’s Ellie DeGeorge scored what turned out to be the decisive tally, again off a corner, with just 5:24 remaining in the fourth.

The Nighthawks competed until the end and Savage was happy with the effort. He noted that Newtown changed its pace of play following setbacks to FCIAC teams Trumbull and Fairfield Ludlowe to begin the year.

“This is the kind of field hockey our players want to play. We decided to go to our long game,” said Savage, referring to stretch passes helping spark quick counterattacks.

“We want to play like we did tonight. Sometimes the scoreboard will be in their favor and sometimes it won’t,” Savage said. “We’re getting ready for later on in the season and making a league run.”

Newtown has been taking steps by making progress in each game. Now, with a win under their belts, the Nighthawks will look to build some momentum. The Hawks, following Wednesday’s visit to New Fairfield (after The Bee sports section went to press), will go to New Milford on Friday, September 23, for a 5:30 pm contest. This marks the first in another back-to-back series, with New Milford set to visit NHS Wednesday, September 28, at 4:45 pm.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Nella Walsh makes a move around a Masuk defender during Newtown’s 3-2 loss on September 14. NHS bounced back for a 2-1 win over Masuk three days later. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Jenna Lagan moves the ball across the field.
Summer Harrell takes on two Masuk defenders.
Brooke Bulkley, right, guards Masuk standout Molly Halliday as Newtown’s Jules Battaglia gets into position.
The Nighthawks celebrate a goal. They celebrated their first win of the year in a rematch with Masuk.
Alison Powers takes a shot at the cage as Masuk defends.
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