Vineyard field hockey beats Falmouth, prepares for tournament

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Lee Hayman passes the ball to her teammates in front of the Falmouth goal. — Photo by Sam Moore

The Vineyard girls varsity field hockey team triumphed over Falmouth High School 2-1 on Friday, revisiting a bitter rivalry and putting their regular season record at 12 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie. “It was a great game for these girls, because we’ve had bad luck over there against Falmouth,” said Coach Lisa Knight.

Juniper Ezanno scored the first goal 19 minutes in, followed minutes later by her teammate Lee Hayman. Both Juniper and Lee got assists from Belle Dinning.

Those goals on Friday and the win they fetched were loaded with meaning for the team, which hadn’t played Falmouth since a game got ugly two years ago. According to Coach Knight, the Vineyarders lost that last match, also at the end of the season, in a brawl characterized by aggression and poor officiating.

“We received nine yellow cards, versus none [for Falmouth], two years ago,” said Knight. The Vineyard’s cards were all for small infractions, she told The Times, while the Falmouth team was never penalized — despite a severe concussion inflicted on a Vineyard player by a Falmouth stick. The game went so badly that Knight refused to play Falmouth again until the game this past Friday.

“When they called last year to ask for two games, I said, ‘No, we’re not going to give you one game,’” said Knight. This year, she told Falmouth, “I’ll play one game, but it’s on our home field.”

Friday’s game was everything Knight could have hoped for. “We won both on and off the field. They were spectacular winners,” she said. After the first two goals, she said, “it became quite physical, a very aggressive game on Falmouth’s part, but our girls rose to the occasion.”

It was a victory in the spirit of players past, and the team made sure to reach out to teammates who had already graduated. Knight said, “A lot of us started texting former players, saying ‘We took care of Falmouth this year.’”

It was more than just retribution, though. The win added two points to the team’s record, and they are seeded fourth among 20 teams in the upcoming tournament, which means they’ve earned both a first-round bye and also a game on their home turf.

“This has been an incredible season. We’re beating teams all over the place. Forty-five goals for, seven scored against,” said Knight. It’s a team with good leadership and a wide distribution of talent, and in the face of challenges, such as the loss of key player Kylie Hatt to injury, others step up.

“When the chips are down, they pull together,” said the coach. “The camaraderie they’ve developed, they just don’t want the season to be over.”

Coach Knight, who goes over the scorebooks every night, knows that the team can’t afford to be complacent. “This is a tournament team — seedings don’t mean anything,” she warned. “It’s tournament time. It just matters how you play that day. I’ll take the home field advantage for sure, but they have to go out and play.” Right now, she says, “It’s all about a little plastic orange ball.”

Their first tournament game is at home against Mashpee, this Thursday at 2:15.