It was a happy gang of scorers as (from left) Nicole Obiukwu, Shelby South and Malouka Gauthier tallied Hamilton’s first three goals of the season in a 3-0 win over Nottingham Monday (Photo by Rich Fisher)
By Rich Fisher
Sep. 11: Once the Hamilton West field hockey team started to play offense, it didn’t want to stop.
Which is exactly what coach Judy Goldstein was looking for after the Hornets lost their first two games by a combined 13 goals.
“We’ve been playing (quality) teams like New Egypt, Burlington Township,” said Goldstein, sporting a sling on her right arm. “They haven’t had a chance to see what they could really do. They’ve always been on the defense. Today they had a chance to take it into offensive mode and so they got excited. They could feel it.”
They felt it three times in taking a 3-0 victory over visiting Nottingham Monday, as Nicole Obiukwu, Malouka Gauthier and Shelby South all put one in the cage.
Obiukwu scored the season’s first goal for either side when she converted on a pass from Devan Onorati with 11:13 left in the first half. Goldstein felt it was imperative that the Hornets built on that.
“If they don’t score on us in the next two minutes, we’ve got a chance to keep it going,” the coach said. “Because usually they get that high high high and bam! You’re back in the defense. They didn’t do that today, they kept going on offense. That’s what they needed to feel; and see what it meant with the adrenaline. You put that goal in the goal cage and you’re in the forward momentum instead of always on defense.”
Gauthier was living proof of what her coach was talking about.
“At first I was thinking ‘Eeaaahh, maybe we’ll score,” she said. “But then when we scored, I felt pumped up. I was ready to keep going. It took a lot of pressure off.”
Malouka rode that momentum into the second half and played a part in both goals. The sophomore made it 2-0 when she converted a pass from Katie Mayernik, and set up the clincher with 9:18 remaining when she fed South for the final goal.
Hamilton kept the pressure on, outshooting the Northstars 16-2. Only a 13-save effort by Brianna Dunmeyer kept the game from getting out of hand.
“Their stickwork was better today,” Goldstein said. “They beat the other team to the ball instead of letting the other team beat them.”
And they got a pro-active effort from a defensive unit that spent most of the first two games trying to thwart an assault on goalie Moira Courtney.
“Nicole Vigna and Monserrat Acosta were absolutely on, and Dami Adigun and, in the end Pam (Merrilus),” Goldstein said. “The halfbacks played more offense today. Instead of hunkering down like we had to in the past few games, we were up and popping it back into the mids instead of just sitting back. That made a huge difference is closing that gap between the mids and the halfbacks.”
Acosta felt that losing those one-sided decisions early actually paid dividends against the Stars (0-3).
“Every game’s a good learning experience,” she said. “You take something from one game and fix it and apply it for another game. I like playing other schools before Steinert and Nottingham to get some practice, and it’s a good feeling to finally win.”
Gauthier feels there could be several more wins provided Hamilton maintains what it did today.
“As long as we work together, keep it going, keep it pumped up have that pressure throughout every game, then yeah, we can have a good year,” she said.