Hannah Leckey, who starts off all of Hand’s corner chances, feeds the ball out to one of her teammates, who tees up a fast, hard shot toward the cage. At the same time, Leckey dashes toward the cage looking for some sort of rebound or a chance to redirect the shot.
Everything worked perfectly for the Tigers Thursday night as Leckey tipped MacKenzie Hilton’s blast from the 15-yard line into the upper-right corner of the cage 50 seconds into the second overtime to give third-seeded Hand a 2-1 victory over archrival and sixth-seeded Guilford in the CIAC Class M field hockey quarterfinals.
The Tigers (18-2-1) will play No. 2 Wilton in the Class M semifinals either Tuesday or Wednesday at a site to be determined.
“I just went in front of the goalie, reached my stick out and it went in,” Leckey said. “We had to had to get it in there. We didn’t want to go another whole overtime.”
Her mother, Hand coach Sue Leckey, said: “I wouldn’t want it any other way. Being on the winning end will be good for us.”
Guilford (13-6-1) could have ended the game in the first overtime on a Mackenzie Cattaruzza shot from the right side, but Hand goalkeeper Mel Rennie kicked it aside with her right leg.
“There are 16 seniors on that bus,” Guilford coach Kitty Palmer said. “Most of them are playing tonight, so it’s tough for them. They really wanted it badly.”
Guilford, which had had lost three times to Hand earlier in the season (1-0, 3-1 and 5-0) took the lead with 18:55 to play in the game. Caroline Napoli passed the ball to Cattaruzza on an odd-man rush and Cattaruzza beat Rennie with a shot to the lower-left part of the cage.
Just 6:38 later, Cameron Ruberti knotted things for Hand with an unassisted goal from right in the middle.
“I knew 18 minutes was too long to hold on to a lead,” Palmer said. “Even without Brenna, they are too talented a team. And we didn’t have any offense going, so we were trying to hang on.”
Hand lost its top scorer, Brenna Hobin, in the first half when the ball hit the tip of the finger. She went to the hospital at halftime with a possible broken finger.
“We have a solid team, so I knew we could score without Brenna, but it’s easier with her,” Sue Leckey said.
Hand outshot Guilford, 8-7. Rennie and Brooke Misbach each had six saves.