GREENE – The old adage is defense wins championships, and Maine-Endwell proved that to be true with a 3-0 victory against Marathon in the Section 4 Class A field hockey championship game.
The Spartans (8-9) defense held the Olmpians (10-4-1) to just one shot on goal and was able to kill off any scoring chance Marathon was able to muster.
“We’ve really worked on our defense, helping and working as a group back there,” M-E coach Heather Doyle said. “They’ve come up big. They’ve really worked hard in the last couple of weeks on really trying to get the group to come together, and it showed today that they really have worked hard.”
Defense reigned for a majority of the first half, as neither team was able to put the ball in the back of the net until the 5:25 mark when senior defender Mary Trichka struck for the Spartans. M-E was awarded a penalty shot on a corner opportunity and Trichka flicked the ball over Marathon goaltender Basha Zurbruegg’s right shoulder into the top left corner of the net.
“I was a little nervous,” Trichka said. “The ref was talking to the goalie for a while. But we’ve done a lot of penalties in practice and in a couple games before, so I was feeling pretty confident.
“It helped a lot knowing we were ahead one. We had a lot of trouble this season scoring, and sometimes when we get down, we have trouble getting back. Getting that first goal was the best thing for us.”
The Spartans were able to double their lead right before the half ended, as junior defender Allison Missavage scored with 35 ticks remaining, which Trichka said was a big morale boost right before the break.
“That was amazing,” Trichka said. “Being up 2-0, that gave us a lot of confidence at the half. We knew we had to play 30 more minutes and that was it.”
“That was a big goal,” Doyle said. “To have a 1-0 lead in field hockey is nothing, but that two-goal lead gave us a little more confidence. But even with that, at halftime I told them it’s a 0-0 game. They aren’t going to roll over, and they didn’t. They came out and fought really hard in the second half and really wanted it. I told my team that we had to want it more than them.”
Marathon put some pressure on M-E at the start of the second half, but Spartans’ goaltender Cassie Miller and her defense stood strong and stopped any chances the Olympians had.
“The defense was fantastic,” Trichka said. “Cassie had a great game with the shutout, and it was just fantastic.”
Miller finished the game with two saves in the shutout effort.
M-E capped the scoring and took away any chance Marathon had at coming back when seventh-grade call-up Samantha Palmer scored off an assist from fellow seventh-grader Anna Castaldo.
Along with the section title, it was a revenge win for the Spartans, who had previously lost to Marathon 1-0 in the Greene Tournament this season. Doyle said that game caused the Spartans to make changes to her plan of attack, which paid off.
“This game, we were a lot more confident and our passing was better,” Trichka said. “Since we played them already, we knew what to expect and their tendencies. We worked really hard for this.”