Field hockey advances to semifinals, upsets undefeated Manchester-Essex


Jason Grow

Rachel Alexander (right) dribbles the ball away from Robert Carter out of Gloucester’s defensive end during Friday’s playoff game

For Gloucester field hockey, history was made following Friday’s game against second seeded Manchester-Essex. The game ended 2-1 in Gloucester’s favor to send the Fishermen to the Division 2 North semifinals for the first time in 14 years.

“Everyone immediately started screaming,” said senior Brianna Fernandes. “We couldn’t have done it without a full team effort.”

The nail-biter ended with no time left on the clock and the ball in the Hornet’s possession to send the Fisherman into a defensive corner play. Senior captain Samantha Orlando drilled the ball out of the circle to clinch their victory.

The first goal of the game was scored by senior captain Rachel Alexander with 15:08 left on the clock. Following Alexander’s goal, the Hornets came back to earn nine straight corner chances but the defense, led by captains Marisa Enes and Orlando, stepped up to send the team into the half with a 1-0 lead.

Junior midfielder Taylor Abbott scored the second goal during a corner play in the second half. It was the only shot the Fisherman had on net in the entire half and was assisted by Alexander. Overall, the team recorded only four shots on net.

Manchester-Essex played a strong game in Gloucester’s zone with 15 shots on net. Senior Gloucester goalkeeper Jenna Taormina stopped all but one of the shots. Manchester-Essex senior Robert Carter was the one to score the goal with 11:31 to play.

“This is just an example of how defense really does make a difference,” said Fernandes.

The last time Gloucester field hockey made it this far into the tournament was in 2002. However, under head coach Lauren Riley, the team has improved and advanced farther every year. When Riley first started coaching in 2013, it was the first time the team had made the tournament in four years. For the last two years in a row, the field hockey team lost in the quarterfinals to Weston.

The next game will be played on Thursday at 6pm against third seeded Ipswich. Ipswich is currently 16-2-0 in the season, having only lost to Manchester-Essex. The game will be held at a neutral field at Reading High School. The winner of the game will go on to play to the Division 2 North Championship.