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HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY

Gunston opens field hockey season with a win

Defense blanks Worcester in second half

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Gunston 3 — Worcester Prep 1

CENTREVILLE — After everything that transpired in the offseason with the COVID-19 pandemic, The Gunston School and Worcester Prep field hockey teams were overjoyed to be back.

Face masks on the sideline and parents watching from their cars instead of bleachers created an abnormal setting Friday, but the teams were just happy to be playing again.

Gunston controlled most of the game en route to a 3-1 season-opening win in Yvonne Gazelle’s debut as Herons head coach.

Gazelle was proud of her team’s performance.

“They looked good,” Gazelle said. “They’re working as a team. I’m really proud of them. I got to play everybody, which I was happy about. It was a great game.”

Gunston (1-0) opened the scoring less than five minutes into the game on a goal by senior Adison Parish during a sequence following a penalty corner. The Herons added a second goal less than a minute later when senior Lydia Davis scored on a breakaway.

Gazelle liked the Herons’ passing on the goals. Gunston dominated possession in the first quarter, which she said was a key for the game.

“Always want to come out strong and let them catch up to us,” Gazelle said. “That’s always the goal. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, just got to work harder.”

Mallards senior Carly Young scored for Worcester Prep (0-1) with 5:25 left in the second period to make it 2-1. But Gunston got it right back less than a minute later on a goal by sophomore Julia Reed.

From there, Gunston’s defense took over. Worcester Prep didn’t get another shot on goal the rest of the game. The Herons out-shot the Mallards 10-1. Freshman goalie Sophia Kent didn’t have to make a save in her first start — and first high school game. Gazelle thought Kent handled the pressure well.

She added that Gunston’s defense executed its strategy well.

“They do a see-saw effect, so a girl pulls up and I like to have them get to the ball as fast as they can, not let the ball come down to them too far and too close to the goal,” Gazelle said. “So the further they move up, and then my middies will recover behind the defenders if they pull up.”

Despite the loss, Worcester Prep head coach Katie Oxenreider was pleased with her team’s play. She thought the Mallards improved as the game progressed.

She said the team’s small roster — they only have 10 players — creates some challenges bigger teams don’t face.

“We have such a small team, it’s a little difficult for us to scrimmage in practice,” Oxenreider said. “So we’re still kind of learning each other’s playing styles and connecting with passes. But I’m actually really impressed with how we played with what we have available to do at practice.”

Going forward, Gazelle said her team needs to work on stick control and strength.

“The reach-around from behind when you’re going to block a girl, they need to get more in front of her because that was getting called quite a bit,” Gazelle said. “The refs were getting frustrated. So yeah, definitely working on that. Blocked tackles, stronger sticks for the tackles.”

Gunston is back in action Friday, Oct. 2 at Saints Peter and Paul. Worcester Prep’s next game is also against Saints Peter and Paul, at home on Friday, Oct. 9.

Follow me on Twitter @SethTow. Follow us on Instagram @StarDem_Sports.

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