Plymouth South eliminates Vineyard in field hockey tourney opener

The Plymouth South Panthers celebrated their playoff win after the final whistle. Vineyarders Kendall Robinson, Issy Smith, and Katie Stewart can't bear to watch. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Plymouth South Panthers put an early, stunning end to the Martha’s Vineyard field hockey team’s state tournament run with a 2-1 win Thursday afternoon in front of more than 100 fans in Oak Bluffs.

The 20th seeded Panthers (10-9-0) scored in the final two minutes, following a corner, to eliminate the 13th seeded Vineyarders (9-5-5) in the preliminary round of the MIAA Division 2 South bracket.

The loss hit the Vineyard girls hard. Following the final whistle, as the jubilant Panthers celebrated, several Vineyard players crouched to the ground in tears. Coach Lisa Knight then gathered her team in the goalmouth at the north end of the field and quietly talked for five minutes. Once the coaches had walked back to the sideline, the players remained huddled together in the goal to collect their thoughts.

In summing up the match, Coach Knight gave credit to the Panthers. “They’re [Plymouth South] a good, strong team”, she said, “Seeds mean nothing when you get to this level.”

The Panthers dominated the first half and led 1-0 at halftime. The Vineyarders responded immediately after the break. Sydney Davies tapped the ball over the goal line on a shot from 20 feet out to tie the score at 1-1, 3:02 into the second half.

The Vineyarders kept pouring on the pressure for 20 minutes and narrowly missed taking the lead on several occasions.

The Panthers were resilient and once they finally got a whiff of the Vineyard goal with ten minutes to play, the ball stayed in the Purple end for the rest of the game. “When you have a little bit of a lapse, They’ll take advantage of it,” coach Knight said. Continuing, her voice choking with emotion, she said, “We have 27 of the most incredible young ladies. What’s hard is to walk away and know that you’ll never coach that team again.”

Before leaving the field, coach Knight walked up to many of her players, including all of the seniors, and embraced them one by one.

With the field hockey season over, it’s up to the boys soccer team to keep Vineyard fall playoff hopes alive. The 11th seeded Purple and White plays Sunday in Scituate at 3:30 pm against the sixth seeded Sailors in an MIAA Division 2 South first round match.