Relentless. Explosive. Unselfish.
The New Oxford field hockey team was all that and more on Tuesday when it overwhelmed visiting Spring Grove in a YAIAA-1 tilt played under a perfect autumn sky. Six different players scored goals for the Colonials, including sophomore Ally Mathis who finished with a hat trick in an 8-3 dismantling of the Rockets.
New Oxford improved to 5-0 and cemented its status as not only the frontrunner in the division but also a serious challenger in the District 3 Class 2A field.
“I told them from the beginning that they’re unstoppable when they work together,” said Colonial head coach Tonya Lardarello.
Spring Grove (2-4) got a taste of that less 120 seconds into the game when Carrie Bair’s shot on goal came out to Mathis, who stuffed it into the back of the cage for a quick 1-0 lead. The Rockets recovered nicely two minutes later and squared the game after Chloe Makibbin smartly deflected a blast by Keirsten Smith off a penalty corner.
Play settled in for a few moments before the Ox showed the depth of its scoring ability. Rocket keeper Aubree Leese, who faced 31 shots, made a kick save, booting the ball directly to Savannah Winpigler at the top of the circle. Winpigler calmly stopped the ball before crushing it back toward the cage where it rattled in to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
Bair matched Winpigler’s blast with a cannon shot of her own four minutes later to double the advantage.
“Passes with a purpose,” said Bair of New Oxford’s offensive proficiency. “We can’t do it by ourselves, it’s teamwork. We dodged and passed to everyone to get (one on one).”
There was no further scoring in the second period, controlled almost entirely by the home side. Colonial defenders Chloe Herring, Emily Flesch and Ariana Hughart stymied any and all Spring Grove advances.
The Rockets proved to be a resilient bunch by pulling to within 3-2 early in the third period. Keirsten Smith smashed a shot from the top of the circle off a corner for the goal, and when Leese came up big and stonewalled Bair on a brilliant breakaway attempt on the ensuing possession, the visitors had juice.
That all went away three minutes later when Morgan Sauter got loose in the open field, carried the ball nearly all the way to the cage before sliding a nifty pass to Mathis who had a wide open cage in front of her. The stuff shot made it 4-2 Colonials, a lead that quickly went to 5-2 when Hannah Zimmer made good on a rebounded ball for a goal.
“My teammates put me in great position to score and they were all great assists,” said Mathis. “We work really well together as a team – they’re the best teammates I could ask for. We mesh really well together.”
The Rockets had fight left in them, however, and pulled it back to 5-3 when Grace Slenker used a reverse-stick shot for a sweeping goal. It appeared the margin would remain two goals as time ticked down but Sauter had other ideas. She lined up the ball from distance and hit a long-range bomb that found the mark with just 12 ticks left in the period.
The salvo was a crusher for the Rockets, who had no answers left to the Ox assault.
Lardarello was pleased with the selfless play and willingness to share the ball in the offensive end.
“We don’t focus on one player as the playmaker; they’re all playmakers,” she said. “They know that’s their job, to focus on everybody getting that done together. When you are using each other it comes back to you. The gift of giving comes back.”
With the Rockets seemingly sapped of their energy, the speedy Bair caused havoc once again by weaving in and around defenders before sweeping a beautiful crossing pass to Mathis for her third tally. Makayla Batts wrapped up the scoring with 5:57 to play when she scored following a Colonial corner.
Lardarello said she would’ve liked to have a cleaner start to the game and that some of her players are still carrying their sticks a bit too high for her liking, but she likes the direction her team is heading as it navigates the regular season toward the playoffs.
“We feel good going in,” she said. “We not too focused on (the playoffs). There are no big or little games, they’re all important games.”
Spring Grove 1 2 – 3
New Oxford 3 5 – 8
Goals: SG-Chloe Makibbin, Keirsten Smith, Grace Slenker; NO-Ally Mathis 3, Savannah Winpigler, Carrie Bair, Hannah Zimmer, Morgan Sauter, Makayla Batts. Shots: SG-7; NO-31. Corners: SG-6; NO-10. Saves: SG-Aubree Leese 23; NO-Morgan Scott 4. JV: New Oxford 4, Spring Grove 0