Field hockey: John Stark turns it on after slow start to beat Bow

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 09-15-2023 12:57 AM

BOW – When a highly-anticipated matchup between Bow and John Stark was suspended last Friday because of thunder, lightning and a whole lot of rain, the teams left the field tied, 0-0, with 3:01 remaining in the first quarter. Almost exactly six days later, play resumed, and Bow capitalized early against the defending Division II champions, with a goal from Josie Johnson with 12:20 left in the second quarter. But after the Falcons missed on a couple of chances, the Generals evened the score at 1-1 on a goal from Lauryn Guevin with 3:05 left in the second. They then took the lead into halftime after a goal from Caylin Worthen with 22 seconds left.

The Generals (4-0) added a third quarter goal from Jillian Fredette and extra insurance in the fourth courtesy of Worthen to cap off a 4-1 win against a Bow (3-3) team that’s shown significant improvement under new head coach Sarah Vaughn.

Here are three notes from the Division II matchup:

Generals’ usually sturdy defense struggles a bit, goalie play stands out

Entering Thursday, John Stark had outscored its opponents 11-0. Johnson’s goal for Bow quickly ended that shutout streak, and it was one of several grade-A chances the Falcons had. Both Generals goalies – Edie Fischer and Addy Pelletier – played one half each. Fischer made one save; Pelletier made five, with their defense giving up an uncharacteristic number of chances.

“Our defense really struggled today, which usually is not something that we struggle in,” head coach Dennis Pelletier said after the win. “I ran like seven different kids on defense today. We rotated our upper sweep and our center back. We had to try things. And even then, at the end, they were still getting shots on. Addy just played terrific. Usually you can’t say a lot when your daughter is a player, so you don’t overpraise her, but she deserved it there. She stood on her head, and it was great.”

So far this season, Pelletier’s split playing time 50-50 between the two netminders, noting both have played so well that they each deserve the opportunity. 

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“If we had push come to shove, it’d be a tough decision,” Pelletier said of picking one. “Right now, I’m going to stick with the 50-50. I think it’s easy to do when you have two good goalies, and when you have normally a pretty solid defense.”

Defending champions younger, but Pelletier confident in outlook

Although John Stark has found similar early-season success after plowing through the competition in last year’s championship run, Pelletier said this group is a bit different, most notably in its age and experience level. Midfielder Hailey Brisson is the only senior consistently playing full games.

Compounding the increased inexperience, the inclement weather meant Thursday was only John Stark’s fourth game of the season, so Pelletier hasn’t had as many opportunities to see his team work through some of the kinks in live action.

“Now we’re getting a chance to finally get a look at stuff,” he said. “I think when we figure this all out, we’re going to be in really good shape. I’m very excited about the offense that we put up today. We knew they were very strong in the midfield, have strong forwards that we were going to try to attack the defensive end of it, so that was a great sign, especially seeing how Caylin (Worthen) controlled the ball up there. I think two goals and an assist today from her. It was great to see.” 

Bow still sees signs of progress in loss

For a team that went 5-9-1 last season, the Falcons have been a bit of an unexpected bright spot in Division II. After starting this season 3-1, Bow dropped a tight 5-4 game to Hanover on Tuesday before Thursday’s loss. Still, Vaughn felt pleased with the effort against the defending champions.

“We were competitive. We hung right with them, and I don’t think the score represented the game that we played,” she said. “We had some breakdowns on D, and the score showed that, but overall, I think we played competitively with them, and we’re in good shape.”

In particular, the Falcons growth in field hockey IQ has been key to the early-season promise, especially for a young group.

“We’re young, so I’m happy with the energy that they’ve come with and the will to want to win,” Vaughn said. “We have a lot of competitive underclassmen. That’s going to help us in years (to come).”

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