It took longer than usual for the New Oxford field hockey to get going on Wednesday.
The Colonials, who entered their YAIAA matchup with host Red Lion at 9-1 and third in the District 3 Class 2A power rankings, went into the half trailing 1-0 and without much in the way of scoring opportunities.
That all changed after the break.
New Oxford scored four unanswered goals, three in the third quarter and one in the fourth, to grab a 4-1 win over the Lions (5-7-0) to move to 10-1 and back up to second place in the district power rankings.
“I told them ‘let’s get out there and be the team that they know that they are,’” Colonials coach Tonya Lardarello said of the halftime discussion. “Not a whole lot of changes were made. They know they have to play together. That’s how we win games.”
In the first half, the lack of cohesion from New Oxford was evident. The host Lions peppered Colonials goaltender Morgan Scott with shots, eventually making the opening with 7:19 to go when Hailey Johnson found Jenna Derouaux in acres of space in front of the cage and Derouaux fired home.
The Colonials had a couple of solid chances, first through Carrie Bair and then Ally Mathis, but it was goaltending of Scott that kept New Oxford in the game at just 1-0 at halftime.
“It’s a big thing to try and keep my team in it,” Scott said after the game. “The adrenaline rush and the shakes that you when they’re just pounding and pounding and pounding on you is kind of crazy.”
Scott made four saves in the first half and finished with eight for the game.
“It’s huge,” Lardarello said of her goaltender’s performance. “And for her to stay mentally tough out there is awesome. They were pounding her there for a while and she was able to keep her head in the game and that just shows her mental toughness.”
It didn’t take long for the Colonials to get level in the second half. Just 14 seconds into the third quarter, Bair burst past the entire Red Lion defense to score an equalizer into the back post.
From there, the momentum began to snowball.
Less than two minutes later, Makayla Batts slotted a pass into Mathis on the doorstep of the goal and the New Oxford forward did the rest, making it 2-1 just over two minutes into the half.
After a sustained period where the two teams traded possession in the midfield, Bair made it a double for her on the evening. She picked up the ball 25 yards from goal, carried it past a pair of defenders and slipped it through the legs of Lions goaltender Madelin Collins, making it 3-1 with 5:40 left in the third.
“It feels really good,” Bair said of the way her team responded. “When you score that first goal it gets everyone excited, so then it just keeps going.
Scott came up big yet again with 11:50 remaining in the contest, making a diving save amidst a scramble in front of her cage.
“I don’t really know,” she said when asked what goes through her head in those moments. “It’s just a sort of fight or flight kind of response. In my brain it’s just nothingness, it’s empty, you just react.
Moments later, Bair put the cherry on top. She split a pair of Red Lion defenders before sliding the ball past Collins to complete her hat trick and extend the lead to 4-1, putting the Colonials in full control.
“I was a bit down on myself in the first half,” she said after the game. “I wasn’t really confident and I didn’t want to bring my team down with that attitude. But we were able to turn it around then in the second half and that confidence just sort of grows and grows.
New Oxford has just two games before the District 3 Class 2A playoffs. The Colonials travel to Dover, whom they beat 12-1 to open the season, today before taking on Susquehannock on Friday to close on the regular season.
New Oxford 0 0 3 1 — 4
Red Lion 0 1 0 0 — 1
Goals: NO: Carrie Bair 3, Ally Mathis 1; RL: Jenna Derouaux 1. Saves: NO: Morgan Scott 8; RL: Madelin Collins 4