Sat, Nov 19, 2011
12:00 PM @
LeBlanc, Andover repeat as field hockey state champs
Sunday, November, 20
By Steve Palladino
WORCESTER — Julia LeBlanc knew that something would eventually have to break in Andover’s favor. After all, how many scoring chances do you need before cashing in?
But what was astounding to LeBlanc is that she would be the person that was in the right place at the right time.
“I just happened to tip it in,” said the sophomore forward after her goal stood up in Andover’s 1-0 state championship win over Longmeadow, yesterday afternoon at Worcester State.
The victory gave the Golden Warriors its second straight state title coronation. Andover defeated Algonquin a year ago, on the same stage.
Frustrated all day for its inability to convert on one of their 23 corner shot opportunities, the Golden Warriors finally caught a break on a scramble in front of the net when junior Meagan Keefe tipped a loose ball over to LeBlanc, who was in stride toward the goal.
LeBlanc had to catch up with the ball and, outstretched, tipped it home with 14:48 to play.
From there, Andover’s defense stood tall and never allowed Longmeadow a serious threat and the Warriors wrapped up an undefeated (22-0-2) season.
“It is unreal for me,” said LeBlanc. “I was on the team last year and got moved up for states. Now, I played almost the whole game. I am so happy.”
The game’s lone goal was LeBlanc’s fourth of the postseason. She also had the only goal in Andover’s sectional semifinal win over Acton-Boxboro.
Andover dominated from the midpoint of the first half and held that domination until the game’s final second ticked away.
Pressuring in the Longmeadow end for most of the game, the Warriors were turned away by the 18-save effort of Longmeadow goalie Elizabeth Suschana, who had 15 in the first half.
“I don’t think we were able to play the type of game that were able to play for most of the season, by taking advantage of our speed,” said Andover head coach Maureen Noone. “They (Longmeadow) jumped right on us and there really wasn’t a lot of opportunities for breakaways.”
Meanwhile, Andover’s defense kept the ball away from keeper Shannon Tully, who only was called on to make three first-half saves.
Her two biggest saves came within the game’s first 10 minutes when she denied two good scoring opportunities from the Longmeadow offense.
Also, early on, Kate Farnham denied a potential Lancer scoring chance when she swept away a ball close to the goal line.
“Last year we came here and didn’t know what to expect,” said Noone. “This year we came here more confident and understood what we needed to do — step by step — to win.”
Division 1 State Finals
at Worcester State University
Goals: Julia LeBlanc
Assists: Meagan Keefe
Saves: A — Shannon Tully 3; L — Elizabeth Suschana 18