The No. 1 seeded Pilgrim Lady Patriots won the Division III Field Hockey State Championship on Sunday evening after beating the No. 3 Tiverton Tigers 1-0 during a winner-take-all shootout at Bryant University.
The clubs battled through two scoreless halves, plus two 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods before a champion was crowned.
"It is very exciting," Pilgrim head coach Stephanie Shields said. "It’s exhausting. They’re exhausted. I mean, that’s a lot of field hockey to be played. They've probably of all the teams, played the most field hockey. But, it’s great. I’m so excited and happy for these girls.”
It was Pilgrim’s second shootout win in as many games. The Lady Pats ousted No. 4 Classical on Wednesday by way of penalty shots during a 4-3 victory in the semifinal game.
“It’s been quite a journey,” Shields said. “They’ve worked hard all season. We started the year off great and continued. We were in first place the whole season. And everyone’s obviously gunning for the top spot. So, every game, we’ve been grinding it out and making sure we stayed there. So, we’ve had some tough times throughout it. But they always pick themselves back up and it was just an exciting season the whole way.”
The Tigers and Lady Pats topped the league with 19 regular season points apiece. Pilgrim carried a record of 8-2-3 into the championship while Tiverton sat at 9-3-1. In their two regular season meetings, Pilgrim prevailed once while the teams tied in the other match.
Senior goalies, Sara Langevin from Pilgrim, and Emily Caraveo from Tiverton stopped two shots each during regulation.
Langevin started the shootout with a save on a shot from Elise Flanagan, a sophomore.
Then, Mikaila Rastella, a senior, scored with Pilgrim’s first attempt and that gave the Lady Pats a 1-0 advantage.
Pilgrim upped its lead to 2-0 when Trinity Reilly, a senior, found the back of the cage after Tiverton’s Grace Peckham sent a shot wide left.
“It’s all a team effort,” Reilly said. “We’re just all really close and we all worked really hard to get where we’re at.”
Margeaux Souza, a senior midfielder, took Tiverton’s third shot and was denied twice by Langevin before the goalie cleared the ball away.
Next, Pilgrim's Lydia Ramsden, a junior mid, scored what everyone thought was the game-winner and that put the Lady Pats on top 3-0.
However, as Pilgrim rejoiced, the officials determined that due to an official error, Tiverton’s first penalty shot which was fired by Flanagan had been placed five yards too far back. Therefore, Flanagan was given another opportunity.
This time the sophomore came through and that earned Tiverton another try.
Nonetheless, Langevin would deny Emma Franklin’s final shot attempt and that preserved the victory for Pilgrim at 3-1.
“It feels amazing,” Langevin explained. “Especially with such a rough game. And Tiverton did amazing. They were a very hard team. We tied them once and then we beat them the other time. So, we knew coming in, this was going to be very hard, but we pushed through.”
And as the goalie and her fellow senior teammates move on, Shields will remember a group that gave it their all every single game.
“They just gutted it out constantly,” Shields said. “They don’t give up. They keep working hard. Even sometimes when they’re down, they just keep working to get what they need. And we get stuff out of them. When we need the goal, we get the goal, and when we need a goal stop, we get the goal stop. So, it’s great. I am going to miss them a lot. But it’s been very exciting.”