Field hockey: Concord responds after slow start, drops season opener in OT to Windham

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 08-29-2023 10:53 AM

CONCORD – With a young team, the first quarter struggles in Concord’s Division I field hockey season opener didn’t seem particularly surprising on Monday.

The Crimson Tide (0-1-0) couldn’t possess the ball, and visiting Windham (1-0-0) took advantage with a goal from Abbie Petrini 5:31 into the quarter. Then in the second, after Concord settled things down, senior Grace Smith found the back of the cage at 6:07 to even the score at 1-1.

Though the Tide ultimately came up short, losing 2-1 after giving up a goal in overtime out of a scramble in front of the net, the game gives the team much to build on as it looks ahead to the rest of the season.

Here are three notes from the Tide’s overtime defeat:

It took Concord some time to find a rhythm: With just two seniors on the field to start the game, Concord head coach Nicole Armaganian knew it might take some time to find pace on offense. After not having a shot on goal in the first quarter, she reminded her team to go get the ball; waiting for it to come to them wasn’t doing them any good.

That improved aggression led to more chances, including Smith’s goal, and gave Armaganian something to feel good about despite the loss.

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“We’re still finding our groove, but the girls really played their hearts out, so I couldn’t be more pleased,” she said. “Score aside, I couldn’t be more pleased with their effort and taking stuff that we practiced in practice and using it in a game was really awesome to watch.”

Concord relying on freshman goalie for success: Freshman Deeqo Hussein had never played goalie until last week. After the Tide graduated senior goalie Anna Gregg after last season, Armaganian had nowhere else to turn. They’d tried recruiting a goalie since the end of last school year, but nobody was willing to do it until Hussein showed up on the second day of the preseason.

“She’s been in pads for a week. Today was her first day, and we go into overtime,” said Armaganian. “She came and joined us second day of preseason and said, ‘I’ll be your goalie.’ So the deal I made with her is she didn’t have to do the timed mile. She ran it anyway. She’s been doing great. She’s trying real hard. She’s a sponge. She’s doing a good job.”

Windham provides stiff test for young group: The Jaguars finished the 2022 regular season 13-2-1, the third-best finish in Division I. With just three seniors on that team, Windham looks to once again be one of the top squads in the division. So while the result for Concord wasn’t ideal, it provides something upon which to build as the Tide prepare for its next game at Merrimack on Wednesday and looks ahead to the rest of the season.

“I’m excited,” Armaganian said. “I think I only had two seniors out there. Everybody else are juniors and sophomores. I’m happy. We’re just going to keep building.”

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