Four girls stood in a circle, huddled up with their sticks together. The circle broke, and overtime began. As soon as it began the tension that had lingered through the crowd at the end of regulation, found its way back to the hopping fans. Kayla Blank broke down field, pushing the ball ahead of her. Lifting the ball top right corner, getting rejected by the post. The ball found its way back to Blank through all of the traffic, and this time was sent straight into the net. The Castleton field hockey team beat St. Joseph’s College 4-3 in overtime, to win the Norther Atlantic Conference finals. The Spartans lost to the Monks in its previous matchup, losing 4-2 after having a 2-0 halftime lead. It was the only conference loss Castleton suffered, adding a little redemption to the victory.
“It’s always nerve wracking to feel like a lot of pressure’s on you,” goalie Trisha Clark said about the exciting final minutes.
The first half was accompanied with rain, seeming to pick up as the momentum of play did. Blank scored her first goal of the game on a pass from Carolyn Griggs. St. Joseph’s pushed back applying more pressure on goaltender, Clark. The Monks got a penalty shot, which was quickly grabbed away by Clark.
Griggs struck the ball five hole adding to the Spartans lead. St. Joseph’s retaliated with a goal of its own. Clark was bested as the offender dangled by the post, waiting to strike the net. Flashes of the last meeting between these two teams occurred when the Spartans went into halftime with a 2-1 lead. Griggs hit the net a second time, Molly Fraher and Blank getting credited for the assist. When time started to wind down, and the pressure really came, the Monks narrowed the lead to one goal, then added the tying goal late in the game. Just as the record books will show, Blank sent St. Joseph’s packing with her quick overtime goal.
“It was a team thing, we knew we had to finish it,” Blank said. “We had to step it up, keep pushing, and we knew we wanted to win.”
The horn sounded and the white jerseys rushed the field, celebrating a well earned victory. The emotion from the game was everywhere, fans were screaming for the Spartans. Just before the photo op, Head coach Tammy Landon was showered with the orange Gatorade cooler full of water.
“I’m estatic, nervous, I want to cry,” a flustered Trish Watson said, after taking photos with the teams new championship plaque. “I’m still in shock.”
Blank and Griggs led the Spartans with two goals and an assist, Fraher also tallied an assist. Clark, Blank, Griggs, Brooke Towslee, and Meghan Konowich represented the Spartans for all tournament team. Griggs was named the Most Valuable Player for the NAC. The conference title marks the Spartans first appearance in the National Collegiate Athletic Association division three tournament.
“We’re going to have fun,” said Landon, adding. “The seniors don’t want the season to end.