Dover-Sherborn starts fast, downs Masconomet in the rain

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DOVER — Rain poured down the entire game, but the slickest part of the Dover-Sherborn field hockey team’s nonleague matchup with Masconomet on Saturday was its fast start in a signature 4-1 win.

Consistent offensive pressure allotted the Raiders (11-2-2) seven corners in the first half, who then used two of them to help score three goals in a mostly dominant effort before the break. None came quicker than freshman Annie Liebhoff’s goal just 2:27 into the match.

Masconomet’s speed and goaltender Sam Serio (10 saves) played a major factor in keeping the game within reach, but four different players found the back of the goal for Dover-Sherborn.

“I’m really thrilled with the way we came out strong, right from the opening whistle,” said Raiders head coach Molly McGill. “I love playing in the rain … I just feel like it’s the great equalizer. Everyone’s dealing with the same elements, and it adds a kind of fun, dramatic element to it.”

An early corner led to a Serio save, but Liebhoff gathered a clear attempt on the other side of the circle before firing in a 1-0 lead on a strong flick. Dover-Sherborn’s forward line did an excellent job pushing the ball upfield and the midfield plugged clearing lanes to keep it there – leading to another goal just seven minutes later.

Drew Hussar (goal, assist) fired a rocket at the far post, which Avery Bent tipped in for a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.

“I always tell them, ‘Help yourselves out, score early,’ ” McGill said. “Every game, right before the start, I just say, ‘Let’s just start early. Score a goal early, set the tone, kind of put them on their heels.’ It doesn’t always happen, but today it did.”

As Serio withstood a few more quality shots, Masconomet shook some of its flat energy with a burst of speed up the middle that Nora Duval used to get a breakaway. D-S goalie Kylie Craig (four saves) stopped her shot and two rebound attempts right after, but Cait Driscoll finally finished off the threat for the 2-1 deficit.

The Chieftains looked more comfortable from there, but the Raiders didn’t stop coming.

Fluid passing downfield 10 minutes into the second quarter drew another corner for Dover-Sherborn, which led to a Finley Whitlock tip-in for the 3-1 lead before the break.

“Corners have been a strength for us this year,” McGill said.

In the second half, the only goal was a Hussar stroke with 10:33 left.

There’s much to be said about the offensive tenacity the Raiders showed. But holding off Masconomet and its blazing speed stood out more.

“Going in, we were focused on defense – marking up all over the field, pressuring the field, all that good stuff,” McGill said. “I think they did find that success in sending the big ball upfield and catching us a little bit on our heels. But thankfully it happened only the one time. That was our game plan, playing good defense (and) pressuring them in their defensive zone.”

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