It has been an interesting playoffs for field hockey, with upsets knocking out the No. 1 seed in Division II and the No. 2 seeds in Division I and III. Despite the craziness in the pairings, the title games are filled with familar faces. South Burlington returns to the D-I final after losing last season, defending D-II state champ Harwood is back in the final and defending D-III Missisquoi has also returned to state title game.
All three games will be played at the University of Vermont’s Moulton Winder Field. The Division II final between No. 2 U-32 and No. 4 Harwood will be played at 11 a.m., No. 1 Rice and No. 3 Missisquoi will play at 1 p.m. in the Division III final and No. 1 South Burlington will face No. 7 Champlain Valley at 3 p.m.
No. 1 South Burlington
vs. No. 7 CVU
All season, Champlain Valley coach Kate McDonald talked about the parity in Division I and how, this season, anybody could beat anybody on any given day. In the postseason, McDonald’s coach went out and backed up their coach. No. 7 Champlain Valley beat No. 2 Essex and No. 3 Mount Anthony to book a spot in Saturday afternoon’s state championship game against No. 1 South Burlington.
“We have a really clear understanding that there isn’t much seperating the teams (in Division I),” McDonald said.
The Redhawks (9-6-2) have been led by goalie Evangeline Dunphy and forward Katie Arms this postseason, with Dunphy allowing only one goal in three playoff games.
While Dunphy has provided the work at the back end, Arms has been a force offensively, scoring all but one of CVU’s goals this postseason.
“We have been fortunate to beat the No. 2, 3 seeds,” McDonald said. “Being the 7 seed, we feel like the pressure lies with out opponent. We have nothing to lose. It’s going to come down to who works the hardest and has the ball bounce the right way.”
Meanwhile, the top-seeded Rebels have led Division I since the beginning of the season, powered by last year’s Burlington Free Press Player of the Year, Anne-Marie Farmer.
Farmer leads South Burlington (14-1-1) with 21 goals this season but they are far from a one-horse team, with junior Courtney Barrett chipping in with 12 goals.
After losing to Middlebury in last year’s final, the Rebels are motivated to recapture the state title.
“Sometimes losing fuels you more and I think they are excited to get out there and play,” said South Burlington head coach Anjie Soucy of her team. “The team has been great, focused, they are ready.”
The two teams met twice in teh regular season, battling to a 0-0 tie in HInesburg and the Rebels winning 2-0 in South Burlington.
No. 2 U-32
vs. No. 4 Harwood
Proving again that the Highlanders are at their best in postseason, Harwood (11-4-1) knocked out No. 1 Windsor in Thursday’s semifinal to earn a shot at a third straight championship.
All that stands between the Highlanders and the trifecta are No. 2 U-32 (15-1-0), who have lost in all four of their previous trips to the championships.
U-32 has parlayed strong goalkeeping by Bailee Hudson into two playoff wins. She posted eight saves in a 4-0 quarterfinal win over Milton and helped the Raiders reach the finals with a seven-save, 1-0 win over Mount Abraham in the semifinals.
Emily Grover and Abby Daniels have sparked U-32’s postseason offense with two goals each.
The Raiders have a pair of victories over the Highlanders during the regular season, beating them 1-0 and 2-0
No. 1 Rice Memorial
vs. No. 3 Missisquoi
Rice (14-0-1) and Missisquoi (12-3-1) know each other well. They played twice during the regular season, the game on the Thunderbirds’ field ending deadlocked at 0 while the Green Knights won the rematch 1-0 on a turf field.
Missisquoi enters as the defending champion in part because of the offensive abilities of Camille Rainville. She racked up three goals in a 5-0 quarterfinal win over Fair Haven and scored the winner in a 2-1 decision over North Country.
While the Knights must find a way to contain Rainville, theT-Birds can turn to Dakota Raleigh, who has two goals in postseason, as well as Rachael Greenia, who added a goal against Fair Haven. Mikaela Flanagan has yielded one goal in the playoffs, making eight saves.
Rice sports the unbeaten record that includes the win over Missisquoi. The Green Knights’ defense has relinquished only two goals this year and blanked the Thunderbirds twice. Jaqulyn Bartlett has stepped in at goal in the two playoff games with four saves in place of the injured Maura Sheridan, who could return Saturday.
The top-seeded Green Knights dispatched Montpelier 3-0 in the quarterfinals and eliminated Stowe 3-1 in the finals.
Rice is playing in its fourth championship game in five years, winning in their three previous appearances in ’08,’09 and ’10.
The Thunderbirds collected their only state title in the sport last year.