Kathryn Ribarov Would Score Conards Goal In The 1 1 Tie With Cheshire scaled

Conard field hockey turned in a strong effort when they hosted a strong Cheshire team Saturday morning in West Hartford.

Goalie Lily Grose Makes The Save In Overtime in Conards 1 1 Tie With Cheshire

Goalie Lilly Grose makes the save in overtime in Conard’s 1-1 tie with Cheshire. Conard vs. Cheshire field hockey. Oct. 15, 2022. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

By Paul Palmer

A determined Conard Red Wolves field hockey team took Cheshire’s best on Saturday morning, and thanks to Kathryn Ribarov’s late goal, earned a well-deserved tie against one the area’s best programs.

“Sometimes we play to the shirt in the first quarter,” said Conard coach Sara Witmer of her team’s early efforts. “When we realize we can play to their level we settle in.” That’s exactly what her squad did in this game.

Cheshire came in sporting a 9-2 record, ranked fifth in Class L, while the hosts were 5-1-2-1 and seventh best in the class. The Rams were on the attack early, putting  pressure on the Conard defense. Goalie Lilly Grose kept it scoreless with a series of saves off Cheshire attacks in the early going. The Red Wolves kept their composure and countered when able, but the opening 15 minutes belonged to Cheshire.

Despite the lopsided play, it was a scoreless first.

In the second period, Conard found its rhythm on offense and just 90 seconds in the Red Wolves had their first real chance at scoring, but the shot went wide of the left post. Although Conard stepped up its offense in the second frame, Cheshire was quick on the counter and spent chunks of time in the attacking zone.

Gracelyn WIlliams of Conard Covers The Cheshire Player While Teammate Sophia Bavaro Supports

Gracelyn Williams of Conard covers the Cheshire player while teammate Sophia Bavaro supports. Conard vs. Cheshire field hockey. Oct. 15, 2022. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

With a little under 4:30 gone in the second, Gianna Randolo fired a hard shot that looked to be deflected up that ripped by Grose for the 1-0 Cheshire lead. Conard regained the momentum as the period wound down, and with just about 1 minute to play, Maddie Campbell’s through ball just missed connecting with Mason Capone. Cheshire goalie Elise Hurlburt came off her line and kicked the ball clear.

Conard would have three untimed corners after the clock reached :00, but Cheshire was able to defend them all and keep the 1-0 lead at the break. It was a tough first half, with Cheshire controlling the attack for larger periods of time, but the Conard defense stayed strong. “We talk about mental toughness and try to make them confident that they can do what any other team does,” said Witmer.

Conards Kate Parker Gets Ready To Shoot Against Conard

Conard’s Kate Parker gets ready to shoot. Conard vs. Cheshire field hockey. Oct. 15, 2022. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

After the break, Cheshire came out firing as they had to start the game. The Rams played most of the opening half of the third period in the Conard zone but were not able to get any dangerous opportunities on goal thanks to the strong defensive play by the Red Wolves. Campbell helped relieve the pressure for the Wolves with a couple of nice half-field runs with the ball and with just under 2 minutes to play, Sophia Bavaro nearly tied the game with a shot from a corner that Hurlburt had to make a kick save on.

With just 15 minutes to play in regulation, Cheshire looked for the two-goal advantage from the start. Randolo nearly scored her second of the game just 5 minutes in, but her shot from in-close deflected off Conard defenders and was cleared. Minutes later Taya Buntin fired the ball wide of the Conard cage from about 10 yards out following a Cheshire corner. As the clock wound down, Conard picked up the intensity and it would pay off with just 2:31 to play.

Conards Kate Parker Gets Ready To Shoot Against Cheshire

Conard’s Kate Parker gets ready to shoot. Conard vs. Cheshire field hockey. Oct. 15, 2022. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Capone’s corner went to Campbell, who found Bavaro for the initial shot, Ribarov was there for the follow, and the game was then tied up at 1. With the scored tied at the end of regulation, the game went to a 7-on-7, sudden death 10-minute overtime.

Once again Cheshire had the better of the offense, forcing the defense to hustle and making Grose turn in some more sharp kick saves. Campbell and Gracelyn Williams helped relieve some of the pressure with good transition play for Conard and with just 53 seconds to go, Ava Matikowski of Cheshire was sent off with a yellow, giving the hosts the advantage. Although they managed to control most of the remainder of the game, Conard could not beat Hurlburt again, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Witmer praised the work of her defense after the game and said it is one of the teams strengths, calling Campbell a “game changer with great field awareness.” The coach is hoping that the team can use this game to continue to build on what they have in place with a team that needed to replace several graduated seniors.

“We weren’t sure at the beginning of the year who was gonna step in for the graduated seniors. We’ve been building confidence and we know we are at this level now.”

Lilly Grose Makes The Kick Save WIth A Cheshire Attacker Closing In

Lilly Grose makes the kick save with a Cheshire attacker closing in. Conard vs. Cheshire field hockey. Oct. 15, 2022. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Sophia Bavaro of Hall Battles For Control Of The Ball With Cheshires Reilly Baldoni

Sophia Bavaro of Conard battles for control of the ball with Cheshire’s Reilly Baldoni. Conard vs. Cheshire field hockey. Oct. 15, 2022. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Gracelyn Williams 6 and Ellery Tarasuk 18 Work The Ball

Gracelyn Wililams (6) and Ellery Tarasuk (18) work the ball. Conard vs. Cheshire field hockey. Oct. 15, 2022. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

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