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Varsity field hockey finishes second in state after 1-0 final loss

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ipswich field hockey state final
Morgan Bodwell (30) jumps high to fend off a shot from Uxbridge as Ipswich Tiger Ella Vogler (5) collides with Uxbridge Spartan Gracie Nummela (10). Tim Cardew’s photo.

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By Alexander Young

Ipswich’s field hockey season came to an end with a 1-0 loss to Uxbridge in the Championship Final of the MIAA Division 4 State Tournament.

After what had been a fantastic season for the Tigers, they faced the Spartans, who were the third seed in the tournament.

The Tigers, led by Head Coach Nikki Pignone, closed their regular season game with an excellent record of 14-1-1 (WLT).

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A serious threat to the tournament as the fourth seed, they earned a bye in the round of 32. Ipswich went on to win their next three matchups, ending their Final Four matchup against Monomoy Regional. A goal in triple overtime took them to the State Finals, where Uxbridge would claim the title.

The Spartans set the tone for the game with significant attacking pressure in the first quarter. Within the first 15 minutes, Uxbridge had several scoring opportunities close to the net, as well as two penalty corners that failed.

Struggling to find their rhythm throughout the quarter, Ipswich flipped the ball and was knocked to the sidelines.

With less than a minute to go into the quarter, the Tigers were able to find an attack and worked on a counter-attack that took them all the way down the left sideline for a well-timed pass over the net. Unfortunately, there were no attackers around to receive the pass and shoot.

The second quarter was a little more promising for the Tigers, but they still found problems passing the ball across the field.

There was a scoring opportunity for Ipswich minutes into the quarter, but they were unable to cash in. Apart from a green card given to Ipswich, there were no significant plays before half time.

Courtney Stevens (9) fires a shot. Tim Cardew’s photo.

A scoreless half-time was a blessing for the Tigers, who had been vulnerable in defense throughout the two quarters.

They looked cohesive on the offensive end, but there were a few instances of tunnel vision as the ball progressed on the sidelines.

If they could have completed a few drop-off passes to the center of the field, they could have opened up multiple opportunities for them.

Less than six minutes into the third quarter, Ipswich goalkeeper and senior captain Morgan Bodwell (30) had stopped a handful of shots from Uxbridge.

Uxbridge then earned a penalty corner, which turned into another. With their second chance at a penalty corner and their fourth of the game, they managed to find the net, but the score was waived.

As Ipswich fans cheered for a moment, their expressions changed when the umpires announced a penalty stroke for Uxbridge for a foul.

At 9:45 in the third quarter, Uxbridge would score on the penalty chance and take the lead 1-0.

Ipswich’s Halle Greenleaf (16) battles Uxbridge Spartans Juliana Casucci (1) over a loose ball. Photo: Tim Cardew.

A huge blow to Ipswich, the Tigers continued to fight on both sides. Sadly, less than three minutes into the score, Ipswich senior captain Julia Moseley (19) was hit on the head by the ball on a Spartan freestyle.

She would not return, making the Tigers’ task to even the score even more difficult. On top of the circumstances, Tigers Halle Greenleaf (16) was given multiple suspensions.

The last quarter was played much better by Ipswich, but they still couldn’t score. On two consecutive chances, they missed their shots to the left and right of the goal by centimeters.

As time ran out in the match, Uxbridge was able to earn two penalty corners, eating up a significant chunk of the remaining clock and eventually leading to the end of time.

It was an emotional loss for the Tigers, who fought hard to reach the final. Despite the loss, it was a memorable season for Ipswich.

Coach Pignone’s impact was huge, as in her first year at the helm of Ipswich Varsity Field Hockey, she brought out the best in all of her players.

Co-captain of Tigers team Lexi James. Photo: Tim Cardew.

This year, Pignone not only had to find the chemistry with a new team, but readjust players to the effects of a full season after last year’s shortened schedule.

After this season, Varsity Field hockey will lose six graduating seniors. Captains Morgan Bodwell, Julia Moseley (19) and Lexi James (4) continue, as do Faith DeBoer (3), Azaria Lestage (6) and foreign exchange student Linde Ruitenberg (7).

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