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Nov. 4, 2009

Panthers maul Blazers in playoffs

by Masha Lafen, Online Sports and Entertainment Editor
BLAZER STADIUM, Nov. 3

The varsity field hockey team (7-5) lost 0-3 to the Paint Branch Panthers (14-2) in the third round of post-season playoffs. The loss brought an end to a successful winning season.

Blair managed to hold possession for much of the first half. At the end of the half, Paint Branch's Heather Janoskie managed to score the first goal. Blair kept possession again throughout the beginning of the second half. But despite their efforts, Paint Branch managed to score again halfway through the half. Paint Branch scored their final goal in a two-man breakaway from the Blair defense.

According to senior co-captain Laura Li, the final goals had a destructive effect on the team's morale. "After the second goal everyone got a little discouraged, but we were still in there," she said. "After the third goal we fell apart as a team."

According to junior Lyla Shapiro, the team worked cohesively throughout much of the game, putting pressure on Panther offense and getting to the ball first after free hits. But when Blair's aggressive defense weakened, the Panthers seized the opportunity to score. "We get lazy at random moments and they score," Shapiro said during the game.

Blair made four shots on goal and goalie Annie Buckley made eight saves. Blair had a total of six penalty corners, while Paint Branch totaled 12.

During their season, Blair lost to Paint Branch by one point. This loss and the Panther's excellent 14-2 record indicated that Blair was in for an intense game. According to Li, the Panthers were very good at stopping the ball and changing direction quickly. "They only made mistakes when we put pressure on them," she said.

Paint Branch head coach Dan Feher said that he warned his team that Blair would be a tough opponent; he believed their slim loss in the previous Paint Branch game would motivate them. "It was one of the most intense games we've had in a long time," he said. "I'm ecstatic that we won."

To Li, the game seemed "anticlimactic." "It was not my ideal game to finish the season off with," she said. Yet despite their disappointing elimination from the playoffs, Li and senior co-captain Nellie Garlow agree that the season was "one of the best seasons of field hockey ever." The team had a winning 7-5 record, and advanced farther in the playoffs than teams in recent years.



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