Connolly leads Crusaders to 3-1 victory

Maureen Connolly scored two goals to help the Lauralton Hall field hockey team maintain its unbeaten mark with a 3-1 victory over Masuk High on in Milford.

Jackie Brewster added a first-half marker, as the Crusaders improved to 9-0.

On Saturday, Lauralton Hall went on the road and earned a 1-0 win over Brookfield High to win its 10th straight contest.

“It’s a one-hundred percent team effort,” Crusaders’ coach Kati Cavanagh said. “It’s no one player, they all play hard together.”

Facing Masuk High (4-7-1) on Oct. 10, Lauralton Hall’s ability to win penalty corners keyed its victory. The Crusaders earned 14 in all, including nine in the first half.

Connolly, a two-time reigning All-State selection, collected Brewster’s corner and snapped a back-hander past Panther goaltender Brooke Upton.

That goal at 24:45 opened the scoring, while Brewster doubled the Crusader advantage following a corner with nine minutes left in the half.

Upton kicked away a drive from Connolly at the top of the circle. Brewster snuck in at the side of the cage and converted the long rebound, pushing the lead to 2-0.

“We finished up a couple of corners... I’m pretty happy,” Cavanagh said. “I think we need to score on a few more going forward, but we did score so I have to be happy with that.”

Chances from Elizabeth Lamonte and Kara Duggan kept the pressure up on Masuk, but Upton held strong and Lauralton Hall carried its two-goal lead into the halftime break.

The Panthers’ attack, keyed by Bella Wilson, Aly DePalma, Julia Hall, created chances in the second half. Masuk won five corners during the last 30 minutes after failing to get on in the first half.

But, Crusaders’ keeper Payton Kiel protected the lead, with defensive help from Lindsey Spitz. Kiel made a fantastic sliding save on DePalma to preserve the 2-0 margin. Connolly sealed the win with 2:53 remaining, providing the third Crusaders’ goal.

“They’ve been training hard all year to pressure the ball, step up and pass,” Cavanagh said. “That’s what you saw today.”

Masuk broke through with 19 seconds left to play, when DePalma slipped a shot beyond Kiel, who came out to cut down the angle.

Overall, Lauralton Hall’s versatility proved to be too much for the Panthers. The Crusaders have given their opposition fits this year with their ability to seamlessly transition from position-to-position.

“Every single player that steps on this field, they switch around a lot, everyone understands the different roles and positions,” Cavanagh said. “They all know where they need to be.”

Lauralton Hall hosts Watertown High (1-11) on Monday, Oct. 21, at 3:45 p.m.