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Field Hockey: Shen's Gunner shuts out Spartans

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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Field Hockey: Shen's Gunner shuts out Spartans

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Field Hockey: Shen's Gunner shuts out Spartans

Earns third field hockey shutout for Plainsmen

BURNT HILLS – To win in any athletic contest you only have to score once more than your opposition.

The Shenendehowa field hockey squad kept that in mind for the full 60 minutes of play against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake as Clair O’Brien’s goal with 11:47 left in the second half and Emily Gunner’s 17 saves gave the Plainsmen a 1-0 Suburban Council victory.

The Spartans (1-3 overall) spent the bulk of the contest in the Shenendehowa end, pressuring Gunner with 19 attempts, including 16 penalty corner opportunities.

“We dominated so it’s disappointing not to come out with a win,” Burnt Hills forward Erin McNally said. “We need to be cutting more in front in the crease and have to do more talking.”

Both squads had to adjust to the grass surface that enjoyed rain over the weekend, growing just enough to hold Monday’s showers and slow down play.

“They planned to mow it today, but said they wouldn’t if it rained,” Burnt Hills coach Melissa Thomas said. “We’ve had a short, fast field before. It was a clear disadvantage because we have some girls that can hit and sprint through the field. We had some girls that were waiting for the pass with the slow field.”

The Spartans pelted Gunner with 11 shots in the first half, maintaining pressure again for the second half with eight more shots and nine more penalty corners.

“If you face just a few shots and a goal or two goes in it’s frustrating,” Gunner said. “When its like today, I get intense and we cheer on each other.”

Shenendehowa (3-1 Suburban Council, 5-1 overall) broke through late in the second on O’Brien’s eighth goal of the year.

“Mandy Ferro shot it initially and the save came right out to me,” O’Brien said. “I thought to myself ‘I better put this one in high.’”

The strike was her eighth tally of the year for the Plainsmen.

Facing a deficit, the Spartans continued to apply the pressure and Gunner needed some help from her friends to ensure the win and the shutout.

Burnt Hills came off a penalty corner and a defender fired the ball towards the right side of the goal. Alysssa Tattersall gave her all, diving in the way and deflecting the ball away from the cage. It was a save, but also earned the Spartans a penalty stroke.

“I love that kid,” Gunner said of Tattersall. “I would rather have a penalty stroke than a goal.”

McNally lined up in front of Gunner and fired towards the left side of the cage, missing the box and a solid scoring opportunity with 5:22 left.

“I thought she would go to my strong side,” Gunner said. “We she practiced against me at the Empire State Games she would go stick side. I got down before the ball got there.”

The close score put even more emphasis on the re-match at the Shenendehowa campus where the field has been mowed to perfection and the liking of Plainsmen coach Jeanne Fravola.

“We play a fast give and go game but on this the ball couldn’t move,” Fravola said. “You can’t get the ball up field and get into transition. It may have helped us here because (Erika Swits) and (Courtney Gardner) are a lethal combination.”

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