Freshmen and sophomores shined the brightest for Pocomoke high’s field hockey team on Monday night in a battle of the Eastern Shore’s best for the Bayside Conference Championship title.
Freshmen forward Peyton Becker notched the first goal, sophomore Dani Batze scored the game-winning goal in the second half and sophomore goalkeeper Dnasia Jones allowed just one goal as the Warriors topped the Kent Island Buccaneers by a score of 2-1 to claim the Bayside title, their first since 2007.
Heading into the second half all tied up at 1-1, Pocomoke (11-3, 11-1) head coach Susan Pusey told her team at halftime to look at the second half like a new game.
“I told them we were starting off at the beginning, we just had to go out there and play our game,” Pusey said. “We had to play hard though; (Kent Island) is a very physical team.”
The Warriors had two goals called back in the second half, one that was ruled outside of the cage and another that was called off because it wasn’t touched inside of the circle. Still, the Warriors didn’t allow that to get them down against the Buccaneers (9-5), and with about nine minutes left in the game, Batze picked up a rebound off of a penalty corner shot and laid it in the back of the net for the go-ahead, game-winning goal.
“Those calls just made us tougher,” Pusey said. “We came back and capitalized; it was a good game to prepare us for playoffs.”
Kent Island had a chance to equalize with about three minutes left in the game, but junior forward A.J. Wilder’s shot-on-goal was swatted down by Jones, the Warriors’ sophomore goalie.
“I was just thinking about what I learned in practice and what the older players have been telling me,” Jones said. “Aerials and knocking down those shots is an area I have been working on.”
This season is Jones’ first year playing field hockey, and due to a number of injuries her number was called on early in the season.
“She has really stepped up,” Pusey said of her young goalkeeper.
The Warriors scored their first goal on a counter-attack after a failed penalty corner from the Buccaneers. Lexi Butler carried the ball up the field, beating and running past a handful of defenders, and fired a shot at the goal that bounced off of Kent Island’s keeper and was cleaned up and scored by the freshman forward, Becker.
The Buccaneers responded a few minutes later though when Payton Beach glided in front of the goal and delivered a strike that went by Warriors’ goalkeeper Dnasia Jones’ leg, landing in the back of the net. But the Buccaneers were unable to equalize in the second half and Kent Island was a bridesmaid once again as time expired, losing in the title game as they have done for the fourth consecutive season.
The Warriors have a bye round in their 1A section of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association playoffs and will face the winner of Washington and Crisfield on Oct. 27. For Pusey and her team, though, their eyes are on the region title, then states.
“That’s our goal,” Pusey said. “At the state level you’re playing nothing but good teams, but the regional playoffs are tough too, but we’ve been playing some good ball here lately. We’re learning from each game and that’s what it’s all about.”