The Sachem East field hockey season ended in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday as the Flaming Arrows fell 2-1 to Williamsville North in overtime of the NYSPHSAA Class A semifinals at Williamsville North High School in Buffalo.
Erin Roland scored the game-winning goal, finding the back of the net on a penalty stroke with 7:10 left in OT. It was the first loss of the year for Sachem East.
“It’s hard,” coach Tina Moon said. “I know how much they wanted it.”
Sachem East (18-1) came out strong, but trailed 1-0 heading into halftime after Jordan Cooper gave Williamsville North the lead with 3:53 on the clock. The Flaming Arrows were confident they’d get on the board quickly, however, and Moon said her message during the break was simple; take shots.
“I said, we came here to fight,” Moon said. “There’s no decision, but to do it. You’ve got to be hungry for the ball.”
Sachem East racked up six corners in the first ten minutes of the half and Kristen Shanahan tied the game at one with 20:16 to play. The Flaming Arrows didn’t slow down after that, controlling posession and peppering the Williamsville North (19-1) defense with shots.
Shanahan thought she’d given Sachem East a one-goal lead with 12:14 left, on another corner, but the shot was waved off for dangerous play. Still, the Flaming Arrows offense continued to push, recording 15 corners and seven shots in the second half.
“They stepped up to the challenge,” Moon said. “I thought we did a great job.”
Marissa Cuevas, who finished with six saves, including a penalty-stroke save in the first half, kept it a 1-1 game with just over a minute to play, diving to shut down the Williamsville North attempt.
She couldn’t, however, do the same on the penalty stroke in OT as Williamsville North quickly turned field and drew the whistle for the eventual game-winner.
“[Williamsville North was] smart, they played it well,” Moon said. “But Marissa had such a great season. She kept us in the game.”
It’s a bitter finish for a Sachem East team that dominated throughout the season, but Moon said the loss will only serve as inspiration for next year’s squad.
“It’s going to motivate us,” she said. “We have a lot of kids coming back and I think this will be something they’ll look to in order to go even further next year.”