Horde Outlast Greenwich in Instant Classic
By Keith Harrington
If Thursday's field hockey playoff game between Granville and Greenwich was on ESPN it certainly would have been deemed an Instant Classic. The Worldwide Leader in Sports might have even made it part of their 30/30 series, documenting the many inside stories from the epic battle.
The game finished deadlocked at 1-1 with the Golden Horde advancing in a dramatic shootout. Raegan Swain's goal in the second shootout series and Megan Decker's clutch saves were instrumental in the Granville win.
For Swain, a senior leader, it was more about leading her team than scoring the eventual game-winner
"Honestly, it was just everything leading up to it. It wasn't even the goal," Swain said. "The whole teamwork. The whole everything. Every time it is double overtime it is always so exciting."
Granville swept the season series with the Witches, claiming a pair of 2-0 wins. However, this time one team was picking up the gear and heading home when the final horn blew, although neither squad deserved it.
Greenwich struck first. Jocelyn Spiezio scored with three seconds left in the first quarter off a pass from Olivia Davis to make it 1-0 Witches.
Granville pulled even with just under 11 minutes to play in the half when Raegan Swain hit the back of the cage off an assist from Haylie Barber.
From that point on it was a defensive struggle with very few good scoring chances for the remainder of regulation.
Business picked up during the 7 v 7 overtime periods where there were a handful of serious opportunities. Granville's Natalie Williams slipped a perfect pass to the far side post, but Melissa Beaver could not quite redirect the ball into the cage. Spiezio had the best chance for the Witches on a long solo run where she navigated around a Granville defender before being stoned by Megan Decker.
In the first shootout session Beaver gave Granville a quick1-0 advantage. Spiezio, the third shooter for the Witches, beat Decker to make it 1-1. No other shooter could get a ball past Decker or Greenwich goalie Maddie Curley.
In the second shootout round Swain fired a blast that went in between the pads of Curley to the Golden Horde in the driver's seat.
Decker denied the next two Greenwich shooters to set off a Golden Horde celebration.
Decker admitted to not having a set strategy to use during shootouts. She lets the opponent's approach dictate her approach.
"Once I hear that whistle I'm on my toes and I just follow the ball," Decker explained. "I don't worry about anything else. I zone in."
Greenwich outshot Granville 11-3. The Witches also held a 14-10 edge in penalty corners.
Decker had eight saves for Granville. Curley stopped two shots for the Witches.
#3 Granville advances to meet #2 Johstown in the semifinals next Thursday at 3 p.m. on the Sir Bill's home turf.