By Michael James LeClair
All season long the Nashoba Regional field hockey team had the upper hand on the opposition, using their speed, strength and skill to climb to the top of the mountain in Central Massachusetts field hockey circuit.
The Chieftains captured their second consecutive Central Mass. Division 1 title and hoped to make a run towards the state championship game like they did in 2014.
Unfortunately for Nashoba and its fans, Tuesday night’s opponent, Longmeadow High School, had other plans as Nashoba’s dream 2015 season came to an end at Grafton High School.
The Central Mass. Division 1 champion Chieftains couldn’t duplicate last fall’s performance as it fell to Western Mass champion Longmeadow 3-0 in the Massachusetts Division 1 Semifinals.
The win by the Lancers on Tuesday evening exacts some revenge for the champs from Western Massachusetts. Last year the Chieftains ended Longmeadow’s season in the state semifinals before eventually falling in the championship game to Acton-Boxborough.
“I thought Longmeadow was really strong, they came out ready to play,” said Nashoba head coach Jamie Mariani. “They were really swarming at us. Longmeadow is a really talented team and there are certain things I think we could’ve done better, but it wasn’t our night”
Longmeadow improved to 19-1-1 on the season and advanced to Saturday’s state championship game to take on the same Acton-Boxboro at WPI, the same Acton-Boxborough team that knocked the Chieftains out last year. It will be the Lancers’ fourth trip to the state title game since 2009. As for Nashoba, it wraps up with an 18-3-1 overall record.
“I think coming into the season nobody thought we’d come as far as we did,” Mariani said. “We set small goals as a team, and I thought we played amazing throughout the tournament. With only four teams remaining in the state, it was incredible to even make it this far.”
Longmeadow senior forward Jessica Strasburg led the Lancers offensive attack with a pair of goals on Friday night while sophomore Allison Erwin added a goal and an assist for the winners.
The Lancers finished the contest with a significant shots advantage, outshooting Nashoba 12-2. Chieftains net minder Catherin Crowley did all she could, making nine saves.
To say that Nashoba has been impressive over the past two seasons would be an understatement. The Chieftains have accumulated a 38-5-2 overall record dating back to the beginning of the 2014 campaign.
Despite finishing the game with a pair of shots on Longmeadow goalie Deirdre Barry neither was a legitimate scoring chance as Barry turned them both away for her lone two saves in the contest.
The loss that ended the season for the Chieftains certainly hurt however the team received some good news recently as Tess Anderson, Marykate Magliozzi, Allyson Conlin, Sidney Lowe and Courtney Cote were selected as Mid Wach League All Stars with Anderson winning the league MVP.