Another year, another state tournament bid for Linda Rice-Collins and her field hockey team. It wasn’t a sure lock this year, but the Magicians received a 29th seed in the MIAA Division II State Tournament after going 6-10-2 in the regular season. It was a tough road for Marblehead, but the Magicians got in and are playing great field hockey as of late, which helps their case in winning a matchup against the number four seeded Longmeadow Lancers.
With 34 teams making the bracket (31-34 seeds play in the preliminary round), Marblehead did just enough to make the round of 32. Its strength of schedule played a huge role in getting the team here. The Magicians played a number of good teams this season, including number one seed Masconomet Regional twice, and Danvers twice that finished the regular season at 13-2-3. The Magicians held their own in a lot of these games and although they did not win most, that preparation against these teams could prove beneficial for this group against a Lancer team that finished its regular season at 14-2-2.
Marblehead’s recent string of wins and ties may have helped its tournament case as well. In their last three games, the Magicians had a pair of 3-0 victories over Greater Lowell Tech and Saugus, and tied 2-2 with Malden Catholic to end the season on a 2-0-1 run. There’s no question that heading into the postseason on a note like that will build confidence in this team. Marblehead may be heavy underdogs, but there are a few indications that the red and black can put up a fight, and maybe even steal a victory.
It all starts with defense for this team. Goalie Maggie Beauchesne has recorded four shutouts this season, and the defense is allowing 2.3 goals per game. That number drops to 1.75 goals allowed per game outside of the teams’ two losses to Masconomet. The Magicians have been locking it down for the most part this year, and have given the team a chance to stay in nearly every game they’ve played in.
It’s a different story on the other side of the ball, though the offense has had its moments. While the defense has kept the team in games, the offense just couldn’t produce in some of them. In Marblehead’s most recent game against Danvers, the defense held the Falcons to two goals, but the Magicians could not find the back of the net and got shut out. The team lost a 1-0 game against Swampscott earlier in the year, and both matches against Gloucester were 2-0 results. A lot of wins and ties were there for the taking but the offense couldn’t find the back of the net.
It’s not to say that the Magicians cannot produce offense however. They are only averaging 1.5 goals per game, but have shown that they can manufacture goals. They scored nine goals in a shutout win against Greater Lowell Tech in the third game of the season, and scored eight goals in the last three games of the regular season. Marblehead has been shutout 6 times this season, so it’s likely that this game against Longmeadow will ride on the teams’ defensive ability, and capitalizing on any scoring chance that materializes.
Overall, the longer that Marblehead can keep it scrappy and low scoring on defense, the better chance that the Magicians have to sneak in one or two goals and upset the Lancers. It will be a tall task against a team averaging just under 3 goals a game, but Longmeadow has also been shutout four times, so nothing is impossible. In field hockey, sometimes all it takes is a few bounces to go your way and if Marblehead’s defense can remain stingy against a high motor Lancer team, the Magicians may end up surprising some people.