By Tris Wykes
Copyright Octopus Athletics 2021
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION – Carlton Fisk has nothing on Heather Scudder.
The former Charlestown High and Boston Red Sox baseball player is best known for the “body english” he displayed while leaping and waving his winning home run inside Fenway Park’s left foul pole during a 1975 World Series game.
Scudder? She’s Hartford High’s longtime field hockey coach and to watch her on the sidelines during a game is to be reminded of “Pudge” and his legendary dance moves.
Wednesday’s game with visiting Woodstock had Scudder leaning this way and that, clutching one arm with the other and displaying facial expressions one might expect from spectators at a high-wire act. It all ended well for the Hurricanes, however, when freshman Madison Barwood’s long-distance shot zipped into the goal with 4 minutes, 51 seconds to play.
“That last quarter there, that was all guts and grinding it out,” said Hartford co-captain Caroline Hamilton, whose 8-1 team won its third game in as many days and its fourth in six days. “That whole last quarter I told myself to keep pushing, because we were almost there and we did not want to go 7-on-7.”
That’s the format for overtime, and the Hurricanes were fast running out of gas. Thankfully for the hosts, Barwood got several steps steps to freely dribble in the center of the field and roughly 20 yards out. Woodstock goaltender Audrey Emery was shuffled off her line to cut down the angle, with defender Georgia Tarleton to her right and Kamryn Jillson to her left.
Barwood’s quick shot flew between Jillson and Emery’s outstretched left leg, clanking off the goal’s back plate and inciting the home crowd.
“We’ve got six seniors and right from the get-go this season, we were working hard,” said Hamilton, whose team’s lone loss came in overtime against powerful Bellows Falls. “I don’t think anyone expected that eight games in, we’d be 54 seconds shy of undefeated, but our whole team is hard-working and we’re not cocky, but we’re feeling good.”
Hamilton opened the scoring during the fourth minute when she redirected in a Maddi Willey cross from the right wing while positioned almost on top of Emery. Willey, the daughter of former Hurricanes football standout Gordon Willey and imbued with her father’s athleticism and power, was a force all day, choking up on the run and uncorking low, accurate passes into the field’s mid-section.
“Her drives are incredibly advanced for high school play,” Hamilton said. “When you see her winding up, you have to back up and get ready. By the time the defense has set up in the circle, we’re already being them getting ready for a shot or to get a (penalty) corner.”
Woodstock (4-4) was under duress in its half of the field most of the contest and could well have folded. Instead, the Wasps equalized 2:20 before halftime with junior Lily Gubbins scoring off sophomore Hannah Gubbins’ feed.
Hartford kept the pressure on throughout the second half, but wasn’t creating serious scoring chances. The Hurricanes, who beat Burr & Burton on Friday, Lebanon on Monday and Rutland on Tuesday, were wearing down and instead of taking the extra step to reach a ball, were reaching and stick-swinging.
“They had a lot of feet in there and we were starting to get a little slap-happy and tired and were grabbing at straws,” Hamilton said of the play preceding Barwood’s tally.
Hartford’s next game should be a doozy: it visits Hanover (10-0) at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Marauders, perennial NHIAA Division II title contenders, have outscored their opponents, 36-8, while posting five shutouts and only once allowing more than one goal. The contest will be just the second on artificial turf for the Hurricanes.
Notes: The game’s start was delayed by about 15 minutes because of one of the referees’ late arrival. She pulled up on a motorized scooter and play soon began… Scudder is in her 33rd year at her post and guided last year’s team to a 3-6 record. The Hurricanes returned six starters from that squad… Hartford has five games remaining in the regular season while Hanover has just three… Parking for Saturday’s game will be at a premium, for Dartmouth College’s homecoming football game against Yale at nearby Memorial Field kicks off at 1:30 p.m… Leanne Tapley, Woodstock’s first-year field hockey coach, inherited a team that went 5-3-1 last autumn. She previously guided the Wasps’ girls ice hockey team.
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