MADISON – A year ago, Lauralton Hall defeated Hand in the Southern Connecticut Conference field hockey championship game.
Graduation losses and inexperience are more the norm now for both teams, which played to an exciting 0-0 overtime scoreless tie Monday night.
Both teams are 0-1-1.
“It’s often like a track race for us when we play them which is fun,” Hand coach Sue Leckey said. “I’m glad we have the speed to hang with them. I’m just glad we didn’t walk away with a loss tonight.”
Lauralton Hall has scored just one goal, that coming in an overtime loss to Branford in its season opener. Hand was shut out by Cheshire, 3-0, in is opener.
So it was no surprise that both teams struggled to score Monday night.
“I think our trouble is I’ve used a different formation and different starters in every game to find the chemistry,” Lauralton Hall coach Kati Cavanagh said. “We can see the potential is there, but the connection is not.”
The Crusaders controlled possession of the ball for most of the first half and had the best chance of the night in the first five minutes. But Hand junior goalie Kylie Gargiulo was able to make a diving save in traffic on the right side of the cage.
Hand had a couple of opportunities in the second half, including a big one when Izzy Kennedy took a rebound and shot from deep inside the circle. But it went wide left of Lauralton Hall senior goalie MaryBeth Rudolph.
“They had some cleaner shots where our goalie had to make a bigger save right away,” Cavanagh said. “Their goalie smothered the ball and got the it out of the way. She was fantastic and I took a few seconds after the game to tell her how a job she did.”
With neither team able to put the ball in the cage, it went to overtime. Rules dictate that instead of playing 11-on-11, including the goalkeeper, both teams played 7-on-7, which left a wide open field.
Hand’s Sophie Schreck was whistled for a dangerous play with 3:19 left in the overtime and had to serve a two-minute penalty. The Tigers killed it off without allowing a shot in the entire overtime.
“It’s almost impossible to play 7-on-7 a man down,” Leckey said. “I was happy to see us maintain our composure, I just told them to make sure they had good coverage back there and they did a good job of that.”
Both Gargiulo and Rudolph were spectacular in the game as the pair stopped 12 and 4 shots, respectively. Lauralton Hall outshot Hand, 22-10, in the contest.
“For us, there are so many pieces that are still up in the air,” Leckey said. “We struggled to score last year even with a veteran team.”