With the Cape and Islands League playoffs on the horizon, the girls on the Falmouth High School field hockey team needed a boost of confidence to prove to themselves that they have what it takes to win the ultra-competitive league tournament. They got just what they needed on Wednesday, November 4, thanks to a thrilling come-from-behind draw that they scored against the team that they are most likely to meet in the first round of the tournament, Nauset High.
Slow starts have been a bugaboo for the Clippers all season long, and that was the case once again as they allowed two first-quarter goals and found themselves down a pair after 15 minutes. Rather than pack it in, the Clippers found something deep down and rallied back to score a 2-2 tie.
Youngsters led the way for Falmouth as sophomore Abby McDonald scored one and assisted on another, and freshman Avery Johnsen scored the tying goal in the second. The Clippers are now 4-2-4 overall. They wrap the regular season up with a game at home against Monomoy High School this afternoon on Friday, November 6, at 4 PM.
Coach Courtney Lima said that mistakes out of the gate proved costly, but she was happy with how the team turned it around after spotting the Warriors two in the first period.
“We were not playing our positions right, and they capitalized,” Lima said. “They scored both goals exactly the same way. They beat our left mid, and then our sweep stepped to the ball and then our right mid didn’t recover fast enough, so once they beat one, they beat the other one. We were almost in a flat line, and they took advantage from the right post and they sneaked it in the far-side post, like clockwork.”
The hole had been dug, but the Clippers were not buried.
“Some teams would find that deflating and give up, but we fought back like tooth and nail. They did an awesome job,” Lima said.
After seeing play pick up in the second quarter, Falmouth came out flying after the half and turned the tables. McDonald finished off a scrum in front of the Warriors’ net just two minutes into the second half to cut the lead in half and change the game’s complexion.
“It was just a little scramble and it was just whoever could get their stick on the ball,” McDonald said. “Coach always talks about having grit, and that’s what it came down to.”
While it was grit that led to the first goal, it was more finesse and teamwork that secured the draw early in the fourth quarter. Just 2:18 into the final stanza McDonald took a pass from Johnsen and penetrated up the middle of the field, drawing the defense. She worked a pass to Johnsen, who waited for the defense to commit to her before returning the ball to McDonald. The sophomore let a hard shot fly, which was stopped. The ball came off the goalie’s left leg pad right to Johnsen, and the rookie did the rest, putting home the carom to tie the game.
“Avery is as quick as it gets on the right-hand side, and she creates a lot of opportunities,” Lima said.
McDonald said that it was a case of seeing what they have been working on done correctly in a game situation.
“We’ve been practicing give-and-goes a lot in practice, and we’ve been really executing them well and that’s what it takes because it’s a team game. You’re not going to do it by yourself, you really need to get everybody to touch the ball and goals will happen,” McDonald said. “I was like, I’m just going to get this on net, because that’s what Coach says to do, and goals will happen.”
Nauset picked up its play after Falmouth knotted it up, but was not able to get the lead back thanks in large part to the play of Kyleigh Waggett in the FHS net. The junior came up with a number of eye-popping saves in the second half, including an incredible right leg pad number on a short-hopped laser beam from 15 yards out that stole the show.
“If we didn’t have her I don’t know what we’d do. She’s like the backbone of our team, like for sure,” McDonald said.