Needham’s Hailey Queler (18) works to keep the ball in Canton’s half to secure a 1-0 win for the Rockets.
By Maddie Gerber
Hometown Weekly Intern
A massive crowd gathered on the sidelines at DeFazio Field last Saturday for the Needham girls’ first field hockey playoff game of the season. The 8th-seeded Rockets took on the 9th-seeded Canton Bulldogs, and managed to take the win by a close score of 1-0. Needham started off strongly, with senior captain Ashley Marshall scoring less than five minutes into the first half. This goal turned out to be crucial as, according to junior forward Caroline Han, “it set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Throughout the first half, Needham continued to push offensively, with strong drives by Marshall, Han, and sophomore Maeve Hymovitz. However, Canton proved to be a formidable opponent; the Bulldogs managed to successfully thwart the Rockets’ scoring attempts.
As the first half wore on, Canton began to increase its offensive efforts and managed to inch into Needham’s half, securing a series of consecutive corners. However, none of these attempts were able to be converted into scoring opportunities, likely due to the intensity of Needham’s defensive line and their goalie, junior Cammy Foster. Many of the Rockets would ultimately credit Foster with the team’s success, with junior forward Grace Kelley pointing out that the goalie was “incredible” and “definitely saved us a couple of times.”
Both teams continued to battle it out as the first half came to a close, with the ball staying close to the center of the field as the Rockets and Bulldogs struggled to make any offensive headway. At the end of the first half, the Rockets were still leading, 1-0.
However, Canton started off very strongly in the second half, with sophomore Erin Lane and senior Meg Aldrich playing exceptionally well and managing to push the Rockets deep into their own territory. Nevertheless, Needham was undeterred and the defensive line continued to fight hard, with senior captain Lilly Callahan preventing several goal-scoring opportunities.
The Bulldogs’ offense continued to dominate until there were just about 10 minutes left in the game. At that point, Needham was able to regain their initial momentum, due to a strong drive by Hymovitz and aggressive defensive efforts by junior Hailey Queler and junior captain Kenzie Kelly, which got the ball into Canton’s half and kept it there. Although Needham was unable to secure any more goals, they undoubtedly dominated the end of the game and managed to secure the win - and a coveted spot in the next round of playoffs, where they will face off against Somerset-Berkley, arguably the best team in the state.
While reflecting on the game, Head Coach Stephanie Magni was impressed with the girls’ tenacity and praised how they “fought hard ’til the end of the game, never giving up.” While looking forward to the next round of playoffs, Magni noted that the team has a “tough road ahead,” as there are “a lot of good teams in the South.” However, the coach was undeterred. “[If] our girls come and bring their A-game and they play like they’ve played in some of our big games,” she said, “then we should be able to compete with anyone.”