'Canes just miss out on first win
On Monday afternoon, twenty-seven minutes stood between the Warwick Vets field hockey team and its first win since 2009. The countdown trickled all the way to 14 seconds, but unfortunately for the ‚ÄôCanes, that‚Äôs where it stopped.
Cranston East‚Äôs Michelle Nunez scored the game-tying goal with 14 seconds left in the second half, and the ‚ÄôBolts then won in overtime to hand the ‚ÄôCanes a heartbreaking 2-1 loss. Vets, which is back in Division II after two rough years in D-I, dropped to 0-4.
Success is surely coming soon. It just didn‚Äôt happen Monday.
‚ÄúThey gave it their all, but we haven‚Äôt won in two years, and when that‚Äôs the situation, you‚Äôve really got to learn how to win,‚ÄĚ said Vets head coach Jim Areson. ‚ÄúWe scored early in the second half, and then we literally tightened up. They said to themselves, ‚ÄėWe‚Äôre not going to lose this game,‚Äô instead of going out and winning the game. It‚Äôs all part of the process right now.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs another in a line of lessons the ‚ÄôCanes have learned this season. They lost their first game 2-0 and have since lost the last three by 2-1 margins.
It‚Äôs about getting over the hump.
‚ÄúThey have to realize they can win games now,‚ÄĚ Areson said. ‚ÄúThat has to be their mentality.‚ÄĚ
The ‚ÄôCanes were in prime position to win Monday‚Äôs game. After a scoreless first half, they broke through with three minutes gone in the second. Lauren Enos passed to Savannah Hersey on a penalty corner and she moved the ball along to Jenna O‚ÄôConnell in the middle. O‚ÄôConnell slipped it to Julie Ye on the far post, and Ye punched a shot into the cage for the 1-0 lead.
Instead of seizing the momentum, though, the ‚ÄôCanes went backwards.
The ‚ÄôBolts controlled a large part of the action after the goal. For a while, it looked like they would come up empty, but they got a chance when they were awarded consecutive penalty corners in the final minute. On the second, Beatrix Kanno dodged one defender but had the ball poked away by Samantha Harris. A scramble ensued and the ball eventually found its way to the stick of Nunez, who muscled it past goalie Naomi Franzen to tie the game.
‚ÄúI have a ton of scrappy players on my team,‚ÄĚ said East coach Sarah Knowlton said. ‚ÄúThey have an amazing ability to put the ball where it needs to be.‚ÄĚ
The goal from Nunez set up a 10-minute overtime period featuring seven-on-seven play, instead of the usual 11-on-11.
Neither team could get control in the early part of the overtime period, but the ‚ÄôBolts established possession in their end and went to work. A deflected shot led to a penalty corner. East didn‚Äôt get a shot off, but another violation gave East another corner. This time, Molly Maguire pushed the ball to Kanno, who then slipped a pass back to the left, where Taylor Burns was camped out on the post. She settled the ball, took the shot and beat Franzen for the game-winner.
‚ÄúWe set up the corner where Molly passes it all the way to the other side and I set up on post,‚ÄĚ Burns said. ‚ÄúBeatrix did what she was supposed to do, she passed it right to the post. Luckily I got it right in there.‚ÄĚ
While the goals completed the comeback, it was East‚Äôs response to falling behind that set the stage. Instead of packing it in after Vets went up 1-0, East dominated the action in the second half. Vets didn‚Äôt have another quality chance, and most of the action happened in East‚Äôs offensive end.
‚ÄúGive all the credit to Cranston East,‚ÄĚ said Vets head coach Jim Areson. ‚ÄúThey decided they were going to battle, and they didn‚Äôt stop. Some teams would sulk after giving up a goal there, but they didn‚Äôt.‚ÄĚ
And Vets didn‚Äôt do enough to turn the tide.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs easier said than done, but they‚Äôve got to literally relax and just play the game,‚ÄĚ Areson said. ‚ÄúThey can‚Äôt worry about making mistakes and things like that. If we had kept the ball down their end, it would have been a different story. We just sat back. That‚Äôs something they‚Äôve got to work on.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs all part of the process as the ‚ÄôCanes try to understand the bottom line. In Division I, it often didn‚Äôt matter what they did ‚Äď the league‚Äôs powerhouses just had too much. Now, the ‚ÄôCanes are capable.
‚ÄúI keep telling them, ‚ÄėEverybody in this league is just like us. They all picked up the stick at the same time,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Areson said. ‚ÄúSo it comes down to effort and desire. In this division, that‚Äôs the difference. If you physically want it more than the other team, you‚Äôre going to win nine times out of 10.‚ÄĚ
The ‚ÄôCanes will continue their quest when they host Cumberland on Friday at 4 p.m. They‚Äôll visit Toll Gate on Monday at 3:45 p.m.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre there,‚ÄĚ Areson said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just little things now. They need to play with more intensity and more desire. I really feel we‚Äôre going to be a lot better in the second half of the season. Hopefully, it‚Äôll work out that way.‚ÄĚ