FAIRFIELD — The Lawrence field hockey team had at least seven freshmen who played key roles this fall. Instead of being in rebuilding mode, the Bulldogs steadily secured the No. 3 seed in Eastern A.
Still, as Thursday afternoon’s quarterfinal against No. 6 Brewer approached, the Bulldogs reacted like you’d expect freshmen to react before their first playoff game.
“I was so nervous,” freshman goalie Emily Tozier said. “I had butterflies in my stomach. I was barely breathing.”
Nevertheless, Tozier came through when she was tested in the first half, and sophomore Julia Lawrence had two goals in the second half to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 victory.
Lawrence will now face No. 2 Messalonskee in the semifinals in a game scheduled for noon, Saturday, at Thomas College. The Eagles defeated Lawrence twice this season, by scores of 2-0 and 7-0.
Brewer had not scored on Lawrence this season (the two previous games ended in a 0-0 tie and a 1-0 Bulldogs victory), but forced Tozier to make a couple tough saves early in the first half. Although the Bulldogs had six penalty corners in the first 12 minutes, Brewer ended the half with a 5-2 advantage in shots.
“We can’t dominate 70 to 75 percent of the first half and have (that) shot ratio,” Lawrence coach Lisa Larrabee said. “So what we spoke about (at halftime) was a sustained attack, and having more movement and shots in the circle. They have to step up and shoot the ball, and not wait for an upperclassman.”
It took more than 10 minutes for either side to get that sustained attack in the second half, but once it happened, it came from the Bulldogs. They got two quality shots on their first penalty corner, and Julia Lawrence scored a follow-up goal two minutes later to make it 1-0 with 17:21 left in the game.
Julia Lawrence scored her second goal with 6:35 to play. Brewer sweeper Kayla Williams drove the ball off the goal line for a defensive save, and Julia Lawrence was there to gather the ball, aim, and drill in another goal for a 2-0 lead.
“I think we definitely pushed the ball up better,” Lawrence said. “Our mids and our front line were working really good together, and our backs (were) hitting the ball very well, as they did in the first half.”
After holding the Witches scoreless for more than 193 minutes this fall, Tozier and her defense finally allowed a goal with 2:14 left when Lindsay Houp scored to make it 2-1. Brewer did not get close to a goal after that.
“I have a couple kids that have been sick,” Larrabee said. “I don’t know if it’s nerves for playoffs or not. So I’m absolutely thrilled that we take the win, and that they also have the experience to move forward in this season, and again next year.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243