It was one of the best high school games of the year. On a recent Saturday, the Branford Hornets girls’ field hockey team battled the Hand Tigers through a scoreless 60 minutes of regulation and three 10-minute overtime periods before falling 4-2 in the penalty stroke session in the SCC title game at Guilford High School.
SCC Commissioner Al Carbone presented the Regular Season Championship plaque and Runner Up plaque to captains LanLe Crotty (left), Brittney Bunbanlu, Sabrina Torcellini, coach Cathy McGuirk, and Autumn McHenry
The victory marked the third win for Hand over the Hornets this season. Hand won 2-1 in overtime back on Sept. 19 and won again 3-0 on Oct. 29. Here Molly Zaffino stops a Hand player from bringing the ball up field.
During regulation the teams field 11 players on the field. In the overtime sessions that number is reduced to seven. Here LanLe Crotty charges to disrupt a Hand player.
The players on both teams played their hearts out and left nothing on the field and their exhaustion showed when it was over. “I was very proud of them,” said Hall of Fame coach Cathy McGuirk of her team. “It was a very intense game and both teams played very hard. It could have gone either way,” said McGuirk in reference to the outcome. McGuirk and her husband, John, listen to a player’s question.
The exhaustion shows on the faces of LanLe Crotty (left), Autumn McHenry. and Molly Zafino as regulation came to a close.
Both teams had opportunities to score in regulation, but the defense and goalies of both squads rose to the occasion and didn’t allow anything to get in the back of the net. Here Autumn McHenry stops a Hand player’s pass with her stick.
Branford scored an apparent goal late in regulation, but the officials whistled it off and the game remained scoreless until the penalty session shoot out. Here is part of the crowd at the game to support the Hornets.
Here Goalie Erica Klarman kicks a shot from a Hand player away as Sabrina Torcellini (left) and Leah Pendl-Robinson move in.
Here an intense Sabrina Torcellini gets in position to keep the ball away from the Hand players.
Here Margaret Martin brings the ball up field.
}And here Molly Zaffino stops a Hand player from bringing the ball up field.
In the penalty session both teams pick five players to shoot at the opposing goalie one on one. Hand was leading 3-2 when their captain Sophie Schreck scored the on her shot to put the game away.
“I was very proud of our kids today,” said McGuirk. “They’ve come a long way since the start of the season, and they played their hearts out. Both teams were very tired from the non-stop action for 90 minutes.” Here Brianna Shaw steals the ball away from a Hand player.
Branford had one other triple overtime game several years ago when they defeated Lauralton Hall in the semi finals of the CIAC playoffs. Here is part of the crowd at the game to support the Hornets.
“That’s the way it works out sometimes but we’ll come back,” said McGuirk.
Since the SCC title game the Hornets have started their comeback defeating Watertown, 4-3, and Mercy, 3-0, in the state playoffs. The Hornets’ record is now 17-3-0-1.
Their next game is against their old nemesis, New Canaan, today (Tuesday) at Trumbull High School at 6 p.m. And guess what? If they win the New Canaan game, and Hand defeats Guilford, the Hornets and Tigers will meet again for the fourth time for the state championship. Hold onto your hats.