Undefeated Kingston field hockey team edges Pine Bush with an exciting finish

KHS junior Abigail Mayone with the ball. (photo by Phyllis McCabe)

KHS junior Abigail Mayone with the ball. (photo by Phyllis McCabe)

The Kingston High School varsity field hockey team won its tenth straight Section IX, Class A title last week in thrilling fashion, ousting Pine Bush 2-1 in overtime. The Tigers, who haven’t lost this season, had to come from behind in regulation to have the chance at the victory.

The game, played at SUNY New Paltz on October 23, saw junior Meghan Gavis play hero for Kingston, first tying the game 16 minutes into the second half, and then scoring the game winner at the 3:36 mark of overtime.

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The win came three days after the Tigers won the Mid-Hudson Athletic League title for the first time in three years, a double overtime victory over Rondout Valley. The Tigers, who’ve run roughshod over the local competition for years, have seen their opponents close the gap recently. According to Kingston head coach Deb Eaton, other high school programs in the area are catching up to the quality of play that’s been a hallmark of the Tigers for a long time.

“We have been challenged more this year than in quite a few years,” Eaton said. “Onteora gave us a good game, Webutuck gave us a good game, and certainly the two games played against Rondout for the MHAL championship and in the regular season. And Pine Bush is stronger than they have been in the past.”

After the sectional win, and a non-league 0-0 tie against a tough Niskayuna team last week, the Tigers are 14-0-2 on the season.

Eaton said there was something special about this season’s team, one which has been challenged often, but still comes together to get the job done. “They’re just really nice girls that get along well,” Eaton said. “They’re supportive of each other, and we really don’t have drama on the team, which sometimes can really get in the way.” Eaton said the team could have faltered early against Pine Bush, but they wanted to keep their sectional streak alive.

“They just embraced the moment and were full of pride,” Eaton said. “They really wanted to do this for another year. It shows the kids that they can do it. It’s never over until the clock runs out. They know they can dig their heels in, stay focused and actually win the game. Field hockey is not a high-scoring game. A lot of times you can have one or two goals, and it’s easy for a team to get down. Coming back shows the true grit of a team.”

The Tigers opened the Pine Bush game on the offensive, hurling four shots in the first ten minutes against a strong defense that was anchored by goalkeeper Erin VanDemark. But while VanDemark effectively went it alone, finishing with nine saves in goal, Kingston keeper Abby Brocco had considerably more help.

Pine Bush’s Isabella Pugliese’s short-range shot was deflected by a Kingston defender, and with the help of defenders Juliana Sickler and Jalynn Davis the Tigers kept the ball away from the goal on three consecutive penalty corners. But Pine Bush finally broke through with just under twelve minutes remaining in the half when Lyndsey Deretchin turned in a pass from Pugliese.

Gavis’ game-tying goal came with 16:08 left in regulation off a pass from Brooke Gastin. It was a momentum-shifting score, with sharp defense all that stood between numerous shots by Gastin and Prizzi.

In overtime, the Tigers pushed and Pine Bush pushed back. The contest nearly ended just 36 seconds into extra time, but Meghan Gavis just missed off a pass from her twin sister Grace. The pair connected on the game winner three minutes later, with Grace dishing the pass and Meghan putting it in the back of the net.

With the win, the Tigers earned a bye before they play the regional final against the Section I champion at Valhalla this Saturday, November 5. On Tuesday, they hosted Red Hook in a working scrimmage, which followed a hard-fought but ultimately meaningless tie against non-league opponent Niskayuna last week.

Eaton said both coaches decided to call it off at the end of regulation rather than fight for a win that wouldn’t have impacted either team’s playoff rankings.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘No, we’re not doing an overtime,’” Eaton said. “We didn’t want to risk an injury, and it was so cold out there that injury was a lot more likely.”

With the scrimmage against Red Hook, Eaton said the key was to tighten up and keep in playing shape. “We’re hanging in there,” Eaton said. “We’re doing all right.”

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