SWC field hockey final Panthers clinch it late
BROOKFIELD — Pomperaug field hockey coach Anne Strobel and her seniors had to watch the opposing team lift the SWC trophy — including Immaculate in 2017 — the past two years thanks to losses in the final round.
Not this time.
Senior Jillian Murray delivered the perfect strike with overtime on the horizon, scoring with 1:21 left to send the Panthers to the SWC championship Thursday at Brookfield High School. Pomperaug edged Immaculate 1-0 for its first title since 2013.
“The devastation of two years coming off the field without the win and finally being able to achieve it, and as captains and as seniors it’s an incredible feeling,” said Panthers senior Kaitlyn Burstiner.
A deflected pass from Jess Evans fell to the stick of Murray, who quickly turned and hit a shot into the corner of the net. Murray also scored the winner — with 1:27 remaining — when the two squads met in the regular season.
“It was a dream shot, I didn’t even look at the goal before I took it,” Murray said. “I just whacked it and it worked out perfectly. It’s crazy.”
The Panthers defense stood tall while the Mustangs had possession for long periods of the game. Quality chances were few and far between as Pomperaug tried to focus on standouts Madison Halas and Celia Preveza.
“We would obviously like to open up the field for (Halas), they were collapsing on her,” said Mustangs coach Shannon Horosky. “When you have a kid like that, everyone knows about her; three of them were on her every time she was on the ball.”
Pomperaug had several opportunities to score before the late winner. Mustangs goalie Lauren Oskam made a point-blank save midway through the second half as Cam Frissora raced through on goal. Before that a potential goal was waved off before it crossed the line for hitting a foot.
The Panthers were the top seed heading into the postseason while the Mustangs were No. 2, and both teams will take sparkling records into the state tournament. Pomperaug will be No. 2 in Class M while Immaculate is No. 3 in Class S.
Frissora was named the tournament MVP for her performance across the three games, including firing a hat trick in a 3-0 win over New Milford in the semifinals.
“Our goal in the beginning of the season was to make it to this stage and finally win,” Frissora said. “I think all of our hard work and heart brought us through all the games.”
“We had a lot of crosses into the circle and they did a great job of defending them,” Halas said. “We just couldn’t get our stick on the ball. … We’re very motivated (for states), taking such an important loss now will make us work harder in states.”
POMPERAUG 1, IMMACULATE 0
IMMACULATE0 0 — 0
POMPERAUG0 1 — 1
Goals: P—Jillian Murray. Assists: P—Jessica Evans. Goalies: I—Lauren Oskam (7 saves); P—Catherine Windover (4 saves). Records: Immaculate 16-2-0-1; Pomperaug 16-1-2.