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North Haven field hockey was looking for its first win when it hosted Sacred Heart Academy on the gorgeous afternoon of Oct. 4, yet despite going toe to toe with the Pacers in what was anybody's game, the Indians ultimately took a 2-1 defeat at Brook Field.
North Haven netted the game's first goal 7:20 into the contest when Amanda Royka scored from captain and fellow senior forward Nichole Ciccarelli for a quick 1-0 lead. However, Sacred Heart Academy controlled possession in Indians' territory through the remainder of the half and eventually tied the game 1-1 when Ava D'Agostino scored with 8:11 to go before the break.
The Pacers then took the lead for good at 2-1 when Jenna D'Agostino put one home from Deirdre Reidy just 2:34 into the latter half. North Haven earned a handful of corners and generated some scoring opportunities in the middle portion of the half, but couldn't net the equalizer, and the game ended with SHA controlling the ball in Indians' territory. Senior goalie Serena Battista made eight saves for North Haven, which was outshot 10-2 and had two corners to the Pacers' nine.
Indians' Coach Debbie Battista felt her team might have claimed the victory had they brought the same intensity they displayed in losses to perennial powerhouse like Hand and Branford earlier in the season.
"I don't think we played to our potential. We started out slow and then warmed up a little in the second half, but we could have won if we brought our best effort from the start," said Battista, whose team is 0-6-1-1. "It's not even about the win. It's about giving your best all the time. I want us to play our best, like we do when we go up against the top teams."
Despite the defeat, Battista was still pleased with some of the things she saw against SHA, such as the performance of junior Molly Benson, who moved from sweeper to play her first game at central back and "controlled the defensive line," according to the coach. Battista also credited the play of senior Gabby Longobardi and sophomore Isabella Caciolli, the latter who moved up from the JV ranks. Battista was also glad to see Ciccarelli and Royka join forces on a goal in Ciccarelli's first game at forward after having previously played defense.
Cicarelli captains North Haven with fellow seniors Maggie Tebbetts (midfielder), Reagan Fitzgerald (forward), and Nora Mackay (midfielder/forward). Coach Battista is happy with the job that quartet has done in leading the Indians.
"They all have unique personalities and so everyone on the team can relate to at least one of them," she said. "They work well together and have given us strong leadership."
About 10 minutes after Ciccarelli and Royka combined to net the game's first goal, SHA earned its second corner and Battista kicked aside the shot to maintain her team's lead. Battista made another save two minutes later, although the Pacers broke through and tied the game shortly after that. SHA then had a great chance to take the lead, but Battista and a few North Haven defenders squashed that opportunity by clogging the cage and the game went to halftime knotted at 1.
The Pacers did take the lead early in the second half and North Haven responded with a few scoring chances. First, Ciccarelli and Fitzgerald had an opportunity that didn't quite materialize and then Mackay put a shot on the SHA keeper that was deflected aside with 21 minutes to go. North Haven had a few more corners in the next couple of minutes, but never really came close to tying the game, and the Pacers maintained possession for most of the final 10 minutes.
North Haven residents Brigid Keefe, a senior defender; and Francesca Campanelli, a sophomore midfielder, contributed to the victory for Sacred Heart Academy.
In addition to those already mentioned, the Indians' varsity roster consists of seniors Angela DeFilippo (midfielder), Erin Hines (defender), and Emily Crowther (sweeper); juniors Abby Tantorski (forward), Alexa Mastriano (midfielder), Carly Flannery (defender), and Madi Burke; along with sophomores Cat Babbidge, and Bella Heagy; plus freshman Hope Marino.