It’s not going to get any easier for the Blue Devils.
Leominster High field hockey coach Kate Phillips acknowledged as much Wednesday night after her team got past No. 12 Bishop Fenwick to reach the Division 2 quarterfinals. A day later, her fifth-seeded Blue Devils learned just how difficult things would be in their immediate future.
The Blue Devils will face No. 4 Longmeadow Saturday afternoon at Holyoke High School in a clash between two of the eight teams remaining in the bracket. The Lancers topped No. 13 Hopkinton, 3-0, Thursday night to advance and have been a juggernaut so far in the tournament, outscoring a pair of opponents 8-0.
It’s not a guarantee for a victory, but if the Blue Devils play the way they did Wednesday night at Doyle Field, they’ll definitely be in the game.
Sophomore netminder Kailyn Cuddahy was sharp throughout, bolstered by a strong defensive group in front of her. And the midfield and offense did a strong job of generating breakouts
Senior Gray Dallaire is a force at both ends of the field and classmates Maddie Parker and Gabby Santucci were effective at getting the ball upfield. Junior Emma Miller Ayala created several outstanding scoring chances against Bishop Fenwick, driving the ball with authority, while Nina Marchetti was constantly in the mix for the Blue Devils.
Miller Ayala and Marchetti linked up to create the lone goal of Wednesday’s contest, converting off a corner. Marchetti took the initial pass from Miller Ayala and sent the ball toward the cage, where sophomore Abby Kelly deftly redirected it home.
Now it’s onto the next one. The Lancers await.
Wolves look to keep going
Second-seeded Nashoba Regional also plays Saturday in the Division 2 tournament, hosting No. 7 Falmouth at 4 p.m. in a quarterfinal.
The Wolves made short work of No. 31 Holliston (4-0) and No. 15 Milton (3-0) to reach the Round of 8.
Blue Knights advance
Seventh-seeded Lunenburg High kept its dreams of a Division 4 field hockey title alive Thursday night, besting No. 10 Ipswich, 2-1, at home to reach the state quarterfinals.
Ava Wilson scored twice for the Blue Knights, with the second goal breaking a 1-all tie with about five minutes left. As she has been all season, Malia Ruggiero was strong in net, stopping eight shots for Lunenburg (16-4).
The Blue Knights move on to face No. 2 Manchester-Essex, which will host Sunday’s tilt at 11 a.m.
Run is over
The fantastic run of the Leominster boys soccer team in the Division 1 tournament came to a close Thursday night, falling to No. 10 Franklin, 2-0, in the Round of 16. The 26th-seeded Blue Devils finish the season with an 11-9-2 record.
The Blue Devils reached Thursday’s contest in the most dramatic of fashions, providing the biggest highlight of the soccer tournament thus far as Leo Giglio converting a nearly 70-yard free kick in the waning moments of a Round of 32 match against No. 7 Framingham to level the game at 1. Leominster then won a penalty shootout to advance.