WHITESBORO, NY– Before Wednesday night’s Senior Night game against longtime rival and defending sectional champion New Hartford, the Whitesboro underclassmen formed a cordon on either side of the entrance, raised their sticks and welcomed the departing Warrior Class of 2017 to the field. With the underclassmen raising their sticks high above their heads, it almost seemed like a military wedding, with soldiers holding their swords high as the bride and groom come down the aisle.
New Hartford first-year head coach Monica Storms had spent a few years coaching at Whitesboro before crossing the city to coach the Spartans. For her, the feeling of saying goodbye to twelve Whitesboro seniors, even though they weren’t her own, was strangely palpable.
“It was emotional,” Storms said. “I saw them when they played in junior varsity. I knew how good they were.”
For her, the emotion lasted about the time it took for the PA announcer to welcome the seniors to the Ed Wadas Athletic Complex. Then, it wasn’t time to feel sorry that they were leaving; it was time to win a field hockey game.
Sophomore goaltender Rebekah Stolo only allowed one goal for the Spartans, then spent the other 59 minutes fending off extreme pressure from the Whitesboro attack. In the end, however, it was Emma Zupan and Lilly Pratt providing the scoring for the Spartans as they knocked off their rivals from Whitesboro, 2-1 at the Ed Wadas Athletic Complex.
For Stolo, it was just another day at the office. “After [former Camden star] Alyssa Curtis, I’m used to it,” Stolo said after the game.
Early on, it was the Spartans applying the pressure to Whitesboro goaltender Jessica Mahardy, getting the first two shots of the game and applying pressure almost seemingly from the first whistle. However, it would not be long before New Hartford would get on the board. Senior forward Emma Zupan would take a long pass from Alexis Timmerman and redirect the ball into the back of the net to give the Spartans an early 1-0 lead.
The Warriors would have their chances in the first half, however, as they would pressure Stolo just as much, coming oh-so-close on several penalty corners in the first half.
For Stolo, the pressure just inspired her to work harder. “I just thought about my team and how hard they were working,” Stolo said on her nerves during high-pressure situations.
The New Hartford attack seemed to help take the pressure off of Stolo a little more about halfway through the first half. Coming off of a penalty corner, senior forward Lilly Pratt would take the pass and redirect the ball into the back of the net. That gave New Hartford a 2-0 lead, which just seemed to make the Warriors come alive. Whitesboro began to exert a good amount of pressure on the New Hartford defense, even drawing a booking for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the half. However, the Spartans’ (9-6, 4-5 Tri-Valley League) sophomore goaltender was more than up to the challenge, stopping several penalty corners before the whistle blew to end the first half.
The Warriors would not let up once the second half started, continuing to pepper Stolo with shots from all over their end. They would finally get the ball in the back of the net halfway through the second half, as Sydney Scaccia would redirect a pass from Paige Warmuth into the back of the net, and suddenly, the Warriors were back in the game with a 2-1 deficit with time running out in the second half.
From there, it would be all about pressure for Whitesboro. The Warriors would continue to pepper Stolo, desperately trying to get that game-tying goal. However, that one goal would be all the Warriors got, as Stolo did not let another ball get through for the final 17 minutes, despite ten penalty corners for Whitesboro (7-3-2, 5-3-2 Tri-Valley League).
For Warriors’ head coach Renee LaValley, it was just too little, too late. “We just needed to turn the engines on a little sooner,” LaValley said of her team’s effort. “It just shows that this is anyone’s game…It was a lot of emotions because of Senior Night.”
For Storms, the win showed a turnaround for her Spartans, exacting a little bit of revenge on another team that beat them early in the season. “I think it was a pretty evenly matched game…I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Storms said. “We need to use the momentum now.”
With Stolo manning the last line for the Spartans, Storms may be able to plant her flag at the peak that is Section III field hockey (and the Spartans’ second straight sectional championship) before too long.
New Hartford Spartans 2, Whitesboro Warriors 1
New Hartford 2 0 2
Whitesboro 0 1 1
NH- Emma Zupan (Alexis Timmerman), 22:57
NH- Lilly Pratt, 13:40
NH- Emma Zupan (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:56
W- Sydney Scaccia (Paige Warmuth), 17:39