Westport field hockey dominates Fairhaven, 5-0

Wildcats jump out to a 7-0-1 start

Story and photos by Richard W Dionne Jr
Posted 10/4/19

Unlike Fall where the leaves turn and drop from the trees, the once young Westport field hockey team has begun to blossom. The Wildcats led by junior center forward Maddy Avila, 2 goals, and junior …

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Westport field hockey dominates Fairhaven, 5-0

Wildcats jump out to a 7-0-1 start

Posted

Unlike Fall where the leaves turn and drop from the trees, the once young Westport field hockey team has begun to blossom. The Wildcats led by junior center forward Maddy Avila, 2 goals, and junior winger Julia Hurley, 2 goals, 1 assist, dominated Fairhaven in ‘all phases of the game’ in a 5-0, home win at Westport Junior/High School on Wednesday afternoon. The undefeated Wildcats currently boast a 7-0-1 record, as an Independent team. The Westport offense has amassed 21 goals during the eight game stretch. The scoring is a huge improvement over last year’s team.

Avila, a Wildcats co-captain, feels that the team’s head coach, Michelle Duarte has found the right formation. “We have finally found something that has really clicked with us,” said the junior center forward. “Last year we had a lot of 0-0 ties. This year, We’ve scored every single game so far,” Avila said.

And then some. The Wildcats aggressive attack has the team scoring in bunches. Westport has scored 4 against Sturgis, 7 against Southeastern RVT and 5 against Fairhaven.

The Wildcats are using a more challenging formation this year, one where they’ll have to think and make adjustments on the field, said coach Duarte.

Similar to a double-diamond formation commonly used in soccer, the Wildcats have three on the forward line with one offensive midfielder, then two midfielders, one defensive midfielder, three defensive backs, a sweeper and a goalkeeper.

“Our midfielders are really an offensive and defensive switch,” coach Duarte said. “It allows the team to cover and see more angles for passing. “It’s an angles game. It’s all about the angles. Having those diagonals to pass to are really helpful,” coach Duarte said.

“A lot of the things that we used to have to work on in practice (basic skills) have become second nature,” said the team’s other co-captain, junior defender Jess Carney. “Now we work on better communication, more precise passes, things that are going to step up our game above our competition.”

Avila agreed. “We’ve all worked super hard in the offseason. Most of us have been playing together since 3rd grade. It’s our junior year. We might as well put it all out there.”

“Many of the girls started with me when they were seventh graders and now they are juniors and are coming into their own,” said Head Coach Michelle Duarte.

“We know we can beat these teams. This year, we’ve been coming into every game with confidence,” said Avila.

It didn’t take the Wildcats long to start scoring against Fairhaven. Five minutes in at the 24:25 mark, winger Julia Hurley gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.

The right winger took a pass at midfield and bolted down the sideline, then sent a cross into the middle of the Fairhaven circle where junior center Maddy Avila, left winger Brianna Quinlan and midfielder Molly Bassinet quickly accumulated. Hurley meanwhile ran to the right corner of the net and waited. Wildcats offense and Fairhaven defenders clashed for the ball. Quinlan emerged from the scrum with the ball face to face with Fairhaven goal keeper and found Hurley waiting on the corner of the net. Hurley one timed the pass and slammed the ball into the open net to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later, After a Hurley pass to Avila nearly resulted in a goal. Avila took multiple hacks from in front of the net, but couldn’t get the ball by Fairhaven goalkeeper, Julia Fernandes. Fairhaven finally was able to kick the ball out of the circle.

But, midfielder Jenna Carvalho stripped a Fairhaven defender of the ball before Fairhaven could gain the centerline. Carvalho dribbled the ball into the Fairhaven circle and took a shot on goal. Quinlan standing on the left side, quickly jumped on the rebound and slid a backhander by the goalkeeper for a 2-0 Wildcats lead.

Fairhaven immediately called a time out to try and stay in the game. But they couldn’t break through the Wildcats stifling defense, even for a shot on goal.

Meanwhile, Westport continued to dominate play. Making stops and making runs. With 7 minutes left in the half, midfielder Molly Bassinet made a stop and took a run up the middle and slid a pass to Avila. The co-captain deked around a defender at the top of the Fairhaven circle, drew her stick back and blasted a shot into the back of the net to boost the lead to 3-0.

Unfortunately for Fairhaven, it was more of the same in the second half.

The Wildcats pounded the Fairhaven net with shots for the first 15 minutes of the second half, but the great play between the pipes by Fernandes kept Westport from wreaking further damage.

Until Bassinet came flying up the middle with the ball and collided with two defenders. The ball trickled over to the top of the circle where Avila jumped on it. Surrounded by defenders, Avila got low and powerfully swung her stick in a circular fashion and struck the ball into the net to add to Westport’s lead, 4-0, with 14:40 to play.

Coach Duarte took her center forward off for a brief rest, She quickly came back in and got back into the pace of the game.

The speedy 5’ 2” athletic center, dribbled the ball into Fairhaven territory to the top of the circle and blasted yet another shot on net. Fernandes made the save, kicking a rebound out to the middle of the circle where Carvalho picked up the rebound and took her own shot. This time the ball trickled under Fernandes with Hurley waiting patiently by the right post. The left winger found the ball and swept it into the net to give the Wildcats a commanding 5-0 lead with 8 minutes left in the game.

“I think we can achieve an udefeated season and I’d like to see a deep run in the playoffs this year,” said coach Duarte, when asked of the team’s goals. “The girls are working hard and they deserve that.”

Up next: The Wildcats play today at West Bridgewater and Monday at Case High School.

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