Ending the season as the last team standing in a tournament was always what the Sandwich High School field hockey team envisioned for the 2020 season. While the Knights were quite pleased to leave a rain-soaked DeConto Stadium on Friday, November 13, as the champs of the Cape and Islands League, they had wanted the year to end with a trophy shaped like Massachusetts.
“They won the league championship undefeated, we had the one tie, but we won the league, and to cap it off with winning the tournament championship. It is what it is, but I’m so proud of them,” coach Kelsey Beaton said after her team knocked off rival Falmouth by a 2-0 score to finish a great year.
In the COVID-19-abbreviated season, the Knights were unbeaten in league play, going 7-0-1 overall. They went 2-1 in nonleague games and added two more playoff victories to finish 11-1-1. This was the second year in a row that SHS has won the Cape and Islands League.
Beaton said she thought that—had all things been normal—her team had the stuff to go all the way and take the state title. She said that is the one regret that she will always have about 2020: that this year’s team never got a chance to prove just how good it was on a state level.
“I can wish it was a different year because I knew I had a lot of talent,” the coach said. “That’s my biggest frustration, and it has nothing to do with anyone, except COVID, right? But I knew I had a huge returning team back. I knew I had a lot of talent, and so I miss the state tournament, but that didn’t happen and I can’t ask any more of them. They did the best that they could do. They were the league champions and the tournament champions.”
Macey White, whose goal just 61 seconds into the game gave her team a quick jolt of energy, agreed with her coach that having a chance to play for the commonwealth’s title would have been great but that winning the first-ever league tournament was special.
“It’s nice. I wish that we could have gone to states because that would have been really nice to win the state trophy, but this was also nice to win this because this has never happened,” White said.
Falmouth head coach Courtney Lima said she was not overly concerned to give up the early lead because she felt it actually helped the club to calm its nerves and settle in.
“I was semi-relieved that they scored that early because it got the nerves out,” Lima said. “We know how fast they are...it was like, ‘Okay, they got one; now we know what they’re going to do. Let’s react,’ which is exactly what we did.”
Lima said the second goal was the one that made it tough to bounce back.
“It was a great field hockey game, without a doubt. They just had an extra push at the end. That goal that put them up 2-0 burst our energy there,” Lima said. “Our kids played 150 percent. I told them before the game to leave their cleats on the field, and that’s exactly what they did.”
Paige Hawkins, who let a bomb go from the top of the circle on her team’s first possession of the fourth quarter, made it a two-goal contest with her 16th of the year. The league’s top scorer said it was a big one for her squad.
“It takes like a weight off of our shoulders when we took a 2-0 lead,” she said. “Kelsey wanted us to get another goal so that we could secure the win.”
From the opening whistle, a steady rain blanketed the field, which slowed the pace some between a pair of teams that love to get up and down with pace. After White’s early snipe, neither team had many chances to score.
Falmouth’s best opportunity came in the third quarter. A redirection off the stick of Abby McDonald from the doorstep looked like it had a chance, but Sarah Curry made a fantastic reaction save, flaring out her leg pad to keep the ball out of the net. The Sandwich defense then was able to clear away the rebound, which kept Avery Johnsen and Katie Shanahan from scoring off the carom. Curry stopped all three shots on net that the Clippers were able to put on.
“They were are all quality scoring chances, so that was terrific for Sarah,” Beaton said.
With Curry stopping the shots that Falmouth put on net and Hawkins and White putting home their goals, the Knights were able to walk off the wet field with their heads held high and a championship in tow.