Assistant Sports Editor
BENNINGTON -- In a battle between two of the top Division I field hockey programs in the state, the Hartford Hurricanes were able to nip a goal early, then hang on to top the Mount Anthony Union High School Patriots 1-0 on Thursday.
"This could have been anyone's game today," MAU coach Laura Pero said. "Unfortunately, it didn't go our way."
The goal came six minutes into the game off of a redirected shot.
Hartford's Courtney Murray took a shot that looked to be going wide of the cage and out of play. But at the last second, Allison Courtemanche was able to get her stick on the ball and redirect it on net.
"[Courtemanche] is outstanding for many reasons," Hartford coach Heather Scudder said. "Her awareness, and her ability to redirect the ball, it is not as easy as it looks."
After the goal went in, Hartford continued to look like it would take control of the match. Over the rest of the half, Hartford would see a majority of the possession and kept prodding around the circle in the MAU end, but could not find a second goal.
At the other end, Makayla Farrara saw a few shots blocked out by the defense and one shot pushed out of play by Hartford goalie Cadence Loney.
"I think we played really well, we just have to convert passes into the circle to get the goal," MAU midfielder Rachel Holland said. "If we do, we will be scoring so much."
In the second half, the Patriots took the game by the scruff of the neck.
It seemed that for all but a minute or two of the 30-minute half, MAU was able to keep the ball in Hartford's end of the field. The team would rack up 8 corners during the second half, but could not find the right combination off of them to get a shot in the cage.
"In any sport, it gets tougher to score when the defense gets smaller," Paro said. "We just needed to make bigger cuts to make bigger lanes. It is something we have been working on. We had great ball control in the second half."
Farrara came close to leveling things up in the begining stages of the second half. Taking a pass from Holland up the middle, Farrara put a shot goalwards, but the ball went just wide of the left post and out of play.
"We had shots, we just need more," MAU co-captain Gabby Loomis said. "It is something to work on."
Paro noted after the game that she was impressed with how her midfield played in the second half, especially Sam Cross.
"Sam stepped up big time," Paro said. "She has stepped up in many games, but today, especially in the restarts, she stepped up for us."
Kelsey Shoff was able to create a chance for the Patriots with just over 12 minutes left in the game, as she pulled off a spin move inside of the Hartford circle and found Kori Bow for a shot, but Bow's shot went just wide.
After the game, Scudder admitted it wasn't the best performance by her team this season, but she noted something that she learned throughout her years of coaching.
"In the state title game against CVU a few years ago, I learned something. It is easier to defend a goal than it is to score one."
The last two chances the Patriots would get to find an equalizer came through Loomis. On the first, she was able to carve out some space, but a pass from Farrara couldn't make it through the defensive mess before Loomis could get her stick on it. Moments later, Loomis would see her shot kicked out by Loney for a save.
When asked after the game what the Patriots would need to do to turn around the result, Loomis answered quite simply.
"Just keep shooting."
MAU falls to 5-2 on the year with the loss, while Hartford improves to 6-1.