CAMDEN — Six straight.
That’s how many shutouts the Camden girls field hockey team have compiled in a row, the latest coming in a 4-0 decision over Tri-Valley League foe Rome Free Academy at Camden High School on a frigid Monday night.
The 9-3 Blue Devils have not allowed a goal in six straight contests and have outscored their opposition 40-0. Their last goal allowed came in their last loss, which was a 2-1 decision against Cazenovia in their O’Connor field hockey tournament consolation game on Sept. 16.
Freshman attack Mackenzie Mix paced Camden with a two-goal performance and senior attack Mercedes Currie had a goal and two assists. In goal, Kelsey Barbato and Mariah Mix combined for three saves.
“Our biggest goal was to get on the board early,” said longtime Camden head coach Shannon McPheron. “I wanted to set the tone because I knew that whoever set the tone first would be how the game was going to go.”
In the previous matchup between RFA and Camden, Camden got on the board early with two goals, but fell 3-2 after junior midfielder Kaitlyn Mastracco netted two goals on her 16th birthday on Sept. 11.
Mastracco did not play for the Black Knights on Monday for undisclosed reasons, although RFA head coach Mackenzie Williams said that she will be back. Brought in to fill her spot on the team was Maggie Closinski from the junior varsity team.
It only took seconds into the contest for the Blue Devils to set that tone as junior attack Lily Sullivan stuffed the ball in on the short side of RFA goalkeeper Madison Cudhea.
Mackenzie Mix tallied both of her goals roughly three minutes apart in the first half. She cashed in on a complete misread by the RFA defense on the first tally and ripped the shot past Cudhea for her second goal of the night.
Camden was awarded 10 penalty corners on the night, including four consecutive corners in the first half. The Blue Devils only converted on one corner, which was scored by Currie ripping a shot through the middle slot in the second half.
“I’ve won sectional titles and regional titles that have come down to penalty corners,” said McPheron. “With as many as we’ve been having, we have to be able to execute.”
Williams noted that her Black Knights were simply “not ready” for tonight’s contest.
“We’re sitting back, our intensity wasn’t there. They had a lot of chances early on and capitalized on our mistakes,” said Williams about their efforts. “You hate when you don’t show up to play off that first whistle.”
It was the second consecutive loss for the 10-2 Black Knights, who compiled a 10-game winning streak to start the season. Their first loss came in their Knight Time Classic tourney championship game when they lost 4-0 to Greene of Section IV on Saturday.
“You come up with some bumps and you face some obstacles and we learned about ourselves,” said Williams. “Something’s lacking and we’re learning how to recover from it. If you face those challenges in your regular season, you don’t have to worry so much about them come post-season because you know how to correct them.”
Williams noted that the backfield played well once adjustments were made to hone in on the Blue Devils’ speed with tighter marking in the circle by players like midfielders Izzy Matt, Sarah Kirk and Victoria Sestito.
“Out of all the games all season we’ve played, this was the first game were we played a full consistent 60 minutes of hockey,” said McPheron. “The girls came ready to play and they know that there’s not a lot of season left.”
The Section III seeding meeting will be held on Oct. 15 and quarterfinals will begin on Oct. 17. Finals for Class A and B will be held on Oct. 29 at Fayetteville-Manlius and Class C and D on Nov. 1 at East Syracuse-Minoa.
With 8:42 remaining on the clock, McPheron given a green card, her first ever, for an “illegal” substitution. Goalies are no longer allowed to substitute on the fly and substitutions must be done in a time-out.
Mariah Mix and Barbato illegally switched and the card was given to McPheron, who joked about the infraction after the game. “It was my first card in 17 years. I guess it’s not a bad penalty to take.”
RFA returns to TVL action on Wednesday when the Black Knights host Oneida at the Stadium at 6:15 p.m. for the team’s Senior Night, while Camden returns on Friday when the Blue Devils host Whitesboro in a Class B finals rematch at 5:45 p.m.