Fenwick field hockey tops Marblehead in defensive battle

Fenwick player Kristina Rusha (8) battles for the ball with Marblehead player Leah Veprek (50) during a field hockey game against Marblehead at Marblehead High School on Tuesday afternoon. (Olivia Falcigno)

MARBLEHEAD — Tuesday’s non-conference matchup between the Marblehead and Bishop Fenwick field hockey teams was a tough defensive game, but an early first half goal proved to be the difference in a 1-0 Crusaders win at Piper Field.

Sophomore Emily McPhail netted the game-winner just five minutes into the game and the Crusaders defense went to work the rest of the way led by Stephanie Steriti and Sophie Carmilia.

“I thought our defense played great,” Fenwick coach Marybeth Mahoney said. “Stephanie has just been so consistent all season. It’s tough to get something by her. And Sophie on the other side has just been great as well. Even the midfielders have been working hard and they all just work well together.”

Marblehead had a handful of chances but just couldn’t put one away to tie the game. Mae Colwell had a nice game offensively while Maddy Dimare led the way on defense for the Magicians.

“I thought we played a really strong game, a really intensive game,” Marblehead coach Linda Rice Collins said. “We had plenty of chances, but made one mistake in front of the net to allow that ball to go in. Other than that we were playing them very strong defensively. 

“I had Maddy on Fenwick’s Cailyn Wesley, who has scored over 30 goals,” Rice Collins said. “She covered her the entire time and she beat Maddy just once. She’s been an unsung hero. Both my left halfbacks, Grace Orloff and Leah Vepreck, were doing exactly what I was telling them to. Fill the hole and step into the hole. Julie Arts at center half back has also been very strong.”

That early defensive mistake by the Magicians gave McPhail some space to work with out front of the Magicians net and she scored to give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.

From there both teams went back-and-forth down the field. Jane O’Neil forced a turnover and Marblehead turned it into a corner chance but couldn’t capitalize. The Crusaders went right down the field next and got a corner of their own but Annabelle Tanger made a save in net for Marblehead.

Later on in the first half Fenwick had four more chances off corners but the Magicians defense held strong.

The Crusaders pressure continued throughout the second half. Fenwick had a handful of corner chances and some shot on goal but saves from Tanger and some solid defense kept the Crusaders lead at one.

The Magicians had a few rushes down field from Colwell later in the second half but couldn’t create any solid possessions and Fenwick held on for the tight win.

“I feel like the last week of our season has probably been some of our toughest games,” Mahoney said. “This was really another one. We had two back-to-back games between (Monday) and (Tuesday). They’re tough to end the season but I think it’s good prep going into tournament time.”

Both teams have one game left in the regular season before moving on the state tournament. The Crusaders have a non-league game at Central Catholic Friday (3:45) while the Magicians end the season at Northeastern Conference rival Gloucester Wednesday (4).

“Right now we are in second place in the NEC,” Rice Collins said. “If we tie or beat Gloucester we have second place. If they beat us they get second place. You have to have some kind of incentive going into games like this. Also, we want to have as many points as we can going into the state tournament because you don’t want to play Watertown first.”

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