By MIKE SMITH
After a dominant run that saw the Mamaroneck field hockey team rack up 13 straight wins and outscore its opponents 97-0 this year, the Tigers’ unblemished streak came to an end on Thursday, Oct. 16 with a 1-0 loss against a nationally-ranked Lakeland squad.
That loss might be just what the Tigers needed.
After falling to the Lancers, Mamaroneck stepped up its game, finishing the regular season with two decisive wins over top teams to finish the season with a top-seed in the Class A playoffs and a full head of steam heading into postseason.
Last Thursday, the Tigers stayed with the second-ranked team in the country, outshooting Lakeland 18-9 in a losing effort but gained some much needed confidence in the process. Additionally, said head coach John Savage, surrendering the Tigers’ first goal of the season may have been a boon for Mamaroneck moving forward.
“We went head-to-head with them, and I think we outplayed them, especially in the second half,” said Savage. “I think it got the elephant off their back when Lakeland scored that goal, it helped them shed some of that weight and now they can just play the game.”
Mamaroneck showed as much over the course of their next two games.
On Saturday, Oct. 18, the Tigers mauled the third-ranked team in Connecticut, Darien, beating the Blue Wave—a team that lost 2-0 to Lakeland—6-1. Two days later, taking on a stellar Rye team, Mamaroneck was able to extend a 2-1 lead at the half, and beat the Garnets 6-1 to close out the regular season.
“I think you saw, after Darien scored a goal, it wasn’t like ‘Oh my god, they scored,’” said Savage. “The girls just ran the ball back to midfield and started playing.”
Mamaroneck has also benefited from a formation change that Savage put in place after the Lakeland game. By moving around four of the team’s stars, Kimi Chiapparelli, Grace Fitzgerald and Ellie and Karen Seid, the Tigers’ offense has come alive over the past two games.
“I think the new formation has led to more people scoring,” said the head coach. “We had five different girls score against Darien, four different girls score against Rye.”
The field hockey postseason is set to kick off on Friday, Oct. 24 when teams play outbracket games, but Mamaroneck will likely not play until Oct. 30 because of a first round bye.
Although Savage believes that downtime could be a problem for other clubs, he feels that his strong veteran core will actually benefit from a week off. The Tigers will scrimmage a team from London on Oct. 22, after press time, and potentially schedule a scrimmage for the beginning of next week.
“I’m not worried about a break with this group,” said Savage. “Also, we’re a little banged up. We’ve got a few girls working back from high-ankle sprains, so I think this will give us a chance to rest up and get rejuvenated for the playoffs.