Held in a 55-minute deadlock, Andover Girls Field Hockey and Cushing kept each other scoreless until newcomer Ashley Tucker ’18 broke through with five minutes left in the game. 90 seconds later, Captain Eva Toffoloni ’15 picked up a rebound, outmaneuvered two defenders and backhanded the ball into the net, closing out a 2-0 win last Saturday.
Harsh weather conditions played the biggest challenge in Andover’s venture to central Massachusetts.
“The Cushing game was a testament to our mental toughness. It was very cold and very wet, which are both conditions that make sports, especially field hockey, difficult to play,” said Kelly McCarthy ’16.
The team focused on executing its game plan despite the weather. It was also important for the team to stay energized in such grueling conditions.
“We tried not to let the conditions affect our play and we kept our energy up,” said Beth Krikorian ’17.
Cushing proved to be a tough match for Andover. The strength of each team’s defense coupled with the hindering weather stalled the pace of the game.
“It was just kind of a slow game. I feel like neither team was really finishing what it was doing or playing to its best abilities. I wouldn’t say we dominated at all; it was pretty half-and-half,” said Tucker.
“It wasn’t because we weren’t playing well that it took us so long to score,” she continued. “They were definitely a good team.”
Boasting a 13-5-0 record, Cushing was no easy win. Seven of its wins came from shutouts, and the Cushing goalie showed no signs of letting up until the dying embers of the game.
McCarthy said, “Cushing’s goalie was very talented, so it took us a long time to score.”
To its credit, Andover did not lose composure or get frustrated after dominating long parts of the game without finding the back of the net.
“We played well and controlled the game but could not finish until the end, when we finally broke through,” added Lexi Davidson ’17.
With just over five minutes left in the game, a series of passes broke through Cushing’s defense and Tucker scored for the first score of the contest.
Capitalizing on its newfound momentum following its first goal, Andover found its rhythm and was able to find the net again about 90 seconds after its first goal.
“Once we did score at the very end, after that, we started playing like we usually do,” said Tucker.
Although the team failed to find its offensive rhythm until the end of the game, its strong defense rose to every challenge it faced. The balanced nature of the team is a large part of what has allowed it to be so successful this season.
“Overall, I think we did a great job being gritty on defense and poised on offense despite the weather,” said McCarthy.
Davidson added, “It was a cold, rainy, hard-fought game.”
Still undefeated, Andover will host Exeter in the regular-season finale before playing its first game in the playoffs.