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Holland Patent captures fourth straight Section III field hockey championship

Steve Jones
Sports writer
email / twitter
Posted 11/1/21

The Holland Patent field hockey team won its fourth Section III title in a row Sunday with a convincing 6-0 win over New Hartford for a Class B championship. The Golden Knights were on the back foot …

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Holland Patent captures fourth straight Section III field hockey championship


The Holland Patent field hockey team won its fourth Section III title in a row Sunday with a convincing 6-0 win over New Hartford for a Class B championship.

The Golden Knights were on the back foot early on, but they weathered the storm. “They outplayed us” initially, said HP head coach Renee Morrison after the win. In the end, HP outshot the Spartans 18 to three and had 12 corners to New Hartford’s four.

The teams played scoreless field hockey for just over 10 minutes in wet conditions at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School. Then HP scored twice in quick succession, both off the stick of junior Alivia Alexander.

First it was a score off of a corner with 4:32 left in the first quarter, with junior Maggie Cummings sending a shot toward New Hartford goalkeeper Emilee Clarey that Alexander redirected into the cage. Then, 48 seconds later, Alexander struck again, an unassisted tally from near the cage as the Golden Knights swarmed on offense.

HP added a third first half goal with 3:12 left. Co-captain Madison Oliver, also a junior, pushed the ball across the line to give HP a 3-0 lead.

The Golden Knights scored twice in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Junior Abigail Draper got the ball from Oliver and smashed a shot from about 30 feet out for a goal. Sophomore Michaela Cushman scored three minutes later on a feed from Cummings off of a corner. Draper added her second goal of the game with 14 seconds left in the contest, with Oliver earning an assist.

It was a relatively light workload for HP senior goalie Filomena Allen, who had to make two saves to earn the shutout.

“This team’s worked really hard to overcome the adversity of last year,” said an emotional Morrison after the team was presented with the championship banner. HP last season couldn’t defend its titles last fall because there were no playoffs due to COVID-19. Instead the team had to be content with a Center State Conference title in 2020.

This time, given the opportunity to win another Section III title, HP was, Morrison said, “ready to play, ready to put it all together as a team. This is probably their best game yet.” She said the team’s first goal helped calm the nerves and allowed them to play without “looking back.”

Alexander said getting the first goal was important. “You want to score first and show them who’s boss.”

Oliver said the team has worked hard to get to this point. “A lot of us are on a travel team,” playing year-round and particpating in winter and summer leagues. “We work our butts off in the offseason. I think that’s part of it. We have a lot of heart.” She continued: “Last year we probably could have went to states. But, we lost that. To me, it means a lot knowing that we could have went far last year and this is our year.”

For Morrison the title wasn’t just a win for the program. “This team is my family.”

The Golden Knights, 13-4-1, will play a Regional game at 1 p.m. Sunday against Section II champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake at VVS High School. When the teams met in Regionals in 2019, HP won 2-1.

Canastota tops VVS for Class C title

Canastota won the Section III Class C field hockey title with a 3-1 win over VVS Sunday at VVS.

“We did what we needed to do to get it done. Back to basics,” said Canastota head coach Danielle Birckhead after the win. “Stick to what got us here,” which, she noted, has been strong passing and movement off the ball. “And having a positive mindset, a champion mindset.”

It is the school’s first field hockey section title in 27 years. “It means everything in the world,” the coach said. “It’s not just for those 20 girls but for our community.”

The game seemed destined to go to the half in a scoreless tie but then each team scored a goal in the final minute of the first half.

First it was the Raiders with 29 seconds left. Mackenzie Snyder took a long pass from Mia Diveronica to a spot at the edge of the goal cage and sent it home to give Canastota a 1-0 lead. It was short-lived lead. VVS junior Grace Croft tied the game with six seconds left before halftime from about 30 feet out when she got control of the ball after Canastota goalkeeper Rebecca McClure couldn’t quite clear it away from the VVS attackers.

But Canastota scored once in the third quarter and once more for good measure in the fourth to take home the championship. With just under a minute left in the third, Kory Matteson gathered a rebound after VVS couldn’t clear the ball away from goal following the inital shot by Hailey Dimao. The insurance goal came with 10:44 left in the game, an unassisted score by Chance Jaquin off a corner sequence. Matteson sent a shot on goal that was saved by VVS goalie Devyn Balfe but Jaquin poked it free from between Balfe’s feet and sent it into the goal.

Birckhead called McClure’s performance in goal “outstanding,” a sharp day from a senior who has only been a goalie for two years and who hadn’t faced many shots on goal during the team’s 15-3 season. “She passed the test wonderfully.”

For McClure it was a team effort. “We just all work so well together,” she said after the win. “I just have the best team.” As for the championship, “It’s pretty amazing. I’m so proud of my girls.”

Matteson, who scored the eventual game-winner, said the plan was simple: “Try to make sure it’s on pads,” because a shot that isn’t on goal isn’t a good one. “Try your best. If you know you don’t have the shot,” get it to a teammate who does. “I was just happy because we got the lead back. We all worked together to get it.”

Canastota will play Class D champion Little Falls at 5 p.m. Wednesday at VVS in a crossover game to go to regionals. The state only has a Class C bracket but no Class D playoffs. Little Falls won 1-0 over Port Byron/Union Springs on Sunday for its title. The winner of Wednesday’s game will play Section II’s Hoosick Falls at 3 p.m. Sunday at VVS High School.

In Section III Class A, Baldwinsville defeated Cicero-North Syracuse 3-0. They’ll play Section II’s Shenendehowa at 11 a.m. Sunday at VVS.


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