Field hockey holds off Nantucket

Vineyarders harpoon whalers 2-1.

Vineyard senior Lily Sebastian goes one-on-one with sophomore goalie Reese McCracken at an October practice. — Ralph Stewart

The Vineyarder field hockey team got the big sports day in Nantucket off to a great start on Sunday morning. The Purple notched two goals, four minutes apart, before the game was 11 minutes old, and held off the Whalers for a 2-1 win.

“For the first time this season, I felt like we were on from the get-go,” Vineyard Coach Becky Nutton said.

The win over the Whalers also helped secure a playoff berth for the Vineyarders (6-7-2 overall, 4-1-2 Cape and Islands League Lighthouse Division), who earned the 31st seed, and will open the Division 3 state tournament on Friday at home versus No. 34, East Longmeadow. The game gets underway at 3 pm. “The girls are really excited to have another opportunity to play,” Nutton said.

Against Nantucket, junior Callie Giglio scored 6:33 into the game off a penalty corner, assisted by Andrea Morse. The initial shot went wide, but Giglio banged in the rebound, making a resounding thwack off the backboard at the bottom of the goal. Freshman Izzy Blake doubled the lead following another penalty corner.

“The whole day had a lot of energy and a lot of emotion,” Nutton said. “It was such a big weekend for the sports program. For us to start with an early goal and an early lead felt good.”

The Whalers cut the Vineyard lead in half five minutes before halftime, but the Purple defense, keyed by Nellie Long and Jocelyn Baliunas, along with goalie Reese McCracken, withstood the Nantucket pressure the rest of the way.

“Last time we saw them, we finished with a tie, so we knew what they were capable of. It kept us on our toes,” Coach Nutton said. “We were very tense the rest of the game. Every time they entered our circle, we felt like we couldn’t give them any chances. We held them, but it was end-to-end. Reese had seven saves, but they certainly tested her and tested our defense.”

Playing with the lead, in itself, proved to be part of the challenge for Nutton’s charges. “I had to remind them that they were in the lead. I had to remind them to slow down,” she said. “We’re so used to playing from a deficit that to be in the lead, keep our composure, and run down the clock was a different position for us.”