NK Field Hockey brings home state title
The North Kingstown High School field hockey team regained the Division I state crown on Monday night after beating the Tiverton Tigers by a score of 3-0 in an exciting game at Cranston Stadium.
North won three straight state titles from 2002-2004 and Barrington has held the title for the past two years. Last year the Skippers lost in the semifinals to Barrington in triple overtime.
The sixth-seeded Tigers returned to the title game after a regular season record of 5-9-2. In two regular season match-ups with Tiverton this year the Skippers prevailed 1-0 and 6-0, although the Tigers defeated second seeded Barrington in the semifinals.
The Skippers earned a firstround playoff bye as the regular season co-champs with Barrington and a record of 14-1-1. They advanced to the Division I final after an awesome 2-1 overtime win against East Greenwich on Oct. 30 at Cranston Stadium.
Less than five minutes into the semifinal match-up against longtime rival East Greenwich, the Avengers scored the first and only goal of the first half. East Greenwich dominated the half with more shots on goal and time of possession than NK. This was not the case in the second half.
Co-captains Talie Pruell and Haley Barber, both of Jamestown, were determined to put the ball in East Greenwich's net and continued to attack repeatedly. Islander Megan Greene had two corners in a row before Cassie-Raye Stuart scored with an assist from islander Tory Dolce with only six minutes left in regulation play.
More determined than ever, and obviously exhausted, the Skippers began the 10-minute 7-on-7 overtime period. North was on a mission to score when Stacey Scott tapped the ball in with an assist from Stuart with 2:47 left to play in the overtime period.
Two of the four seniors on the team are from Jamestown. After the semifinal win, a very excited Barber said, "We realized that we weren't playing to our potential and we just needed to step it up especially for (us) the seniors. We just want it so bad that we couldn't walk away."
When asked what she told her team at halftime, Coach Julie Maguire, of Jamestown, said, "They weren't playing field hockey. I think everyone had to get the jitters out. It was almost like they were playing not to lose in the first half instead of playing to win."
Maguire also noted that playing on the turf at Cranston Stadium was not what they expected. North practiced at Brown University and Hendricken to get used to the turf but the Cranston field was much slower than they expected.
North's huge crowd was supportive up to the very last second of play and knew this game would be a battle. Earlier in the season on Sept. 24, East Greenwich handed NK their first and only loss of the season. In their second meeting on Oct. 18, North prevailed by a score of 2-0.
In Monday's finals match-up with Tiverton, Greene was at the top of her game. She scored the first of her two goals towards the end of the first half with an assist from Stuart. The momentum built for North midway through the second half. With 15:45 remaining, Greene assisted Stuart with the second goal and less than two minutes later Greene turned around and scored the final goal with an assist from Dolce.
Greene could not contain her excitement at the end of the game and said, "I could not have done it without the girls and our coaches, I was just in the right place at the right time to put it in." At the conclusion of the game, Greene was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Commenting on the depth of her squad, an elated and relieved Maguire said, "Last year we were young as far as talent. I started four freshmen last year that are now sophomores and they were that much more mature to get it done," she said. "I think collectively they are a better team this year and all season we worked on their passing game as opposed to a one-on-one game," she continued.
North was aggressive throughout the game and Maguire noted, "We played them (Tiverton) two times previously and won both games so we had that confidence in our back pocket and right from the beginning they stepped up to the ball."
After a victory lap, the Skippers stood cheering together to accept their trophy.
An ecstatic Dolce concluded, "We are so excited, since we are sophomores this is our first time (in the finals) and it is so exhilarating, it is the best feeling after all our practices."