MVU’s Middie Danielle Cummings gains control of the ball from Milton’s Laurie Olsaver during Saturday’s game with Milton. Missisquoi won their season opener 3-0. Rachel N. Lamoureux, County Courier

Jay Cummings
County Courier

SWANTON: The MVU Varsity Field Hockey kicked off their first game of the season by hosting Milton Saturday morning. The first five minutes was an evenly matched game as the ball flowed back and forth over the 50-yard line with neither team able to get a shot off. Milton was producing a far stronger showing than their prior scrimmage against the Thunderbirds just 10 days earlier. Six minutes into regulation, MVU had their first of many shots on net beginning with Danielle Cummings from the top of the circle. 

Rhianna Sweeney followed up with the rebound and drew a penalty corner against Milton. MVU Freshman Julia Parent made her debut shot towards the goal with a high lift just missing the far post. 

MVU then attacked with multiple advances toward the Yellowjacket goal only to be denied by Milton’s strong defense, prohibiting the Thunderbirds access to inside the circle.

MVU’s second attempt on a corner penalty initiated by Thunderbird Keira McFadden, precisely pushed out to Sweeney who rifled another shot missing the Yellowjackets’ goal to the far right. 

With a well-timed break, Coach Jeanne Rainville called the first timeout at 15:50 in the first half to reposition some of the players. Her strategic chat was well received as the Thunderbirds retook the field with a flurry of shots ensuing. Fortunately for Milton, none of the shots found the rear of the cage. 

Missisquoi’s barrage on offense had Milton’s Head Coach Meghann Rowley call a time out of her own, likely to disrupt the MVU’s assault. However, MVU again took the field focusing even more on scoring. 

MVU’s Forward Bella Bigelow spotted an opening to the right side of the cage, ripping what looked like a sure thing, only to have Milton’s goalie, Emma Philbrook, make a long left foot stretch, just catching the tip of her boot for a spectacular save. Bigelow, still hungry to get on the scoreboard for MVU, attempted to convert another corner just missing the net. 

Milton’s Ella Toner, left, and MVUs Naomi Edele preparing to back up their teammates as MVU’s Rhianna Sweeney skillfully worked the ball past defenseman Jullianna O’Halloran, and between Goalie Emma Philbrook’s feet, to score MVU’s first goal of the game. Sweeney was assisted by Anna Comisky. Missisquoi won Saturday’s season opener 3-0 Rachel N. Lamoureux, County Courier

The Yellowjackets’ luck finally ran out at 0:25 remaining in the first half when Center Forward Rhianna Sweeney pushed the ball in from a scramble in front of the net to get MVU on the board 1-0. Going into halftime the Thunderbirds were breathing a sigh of relief, by finally converting one of several opportunities.

The second half started with MVU dominating the field. Anna Comisky was able to put a shot on net, which again drew a Milton corner penalty. Keirra McFadden initiated the play with a push to Cummings, who drilled a shot just to the left of Milton’s net. 

Two minutes later, MVU made their fifth corner attempt with a McFadden push to Sweeney, but the Thunderbirds could not convert against Milton’s strong defense. 

About a third of the way into the second half, Milton finally crossed the 50- yard line. Yellowjacket Center Middie Molly Toner pushed hard toward the MVU zone and was denied by Thunderbird Middie Danielle Cummings who controlled the midfield most of the game.   

A Milton timeout helped to regroup their strategy. The Yellowjackets slightly altered their defense, moving additional players between the MVU offense and the Milton goal. 

With 14:53 left in regulation, MVU converted on a corner penalty as McFadden tipped the ball into the net with a well-placed pass from Sweeney.

Going strong, MVU’s 7th corner missed the mark with a Cummings’ shot blocked by a Milton defender. Bigelow again attempted her signature move, a reverse flick, but was stopped by the Milton goalkeeper. 

At 11:04, a Milton defender threw her stick at the ball, with MVU on the verge of a goal, causing a rare penalty shot. Lined up, Sweeney made a firm shot to the right, however, Milton’s goalkeeper came up with a textbook save. 

Taking the pass from Naomi Edele (back right), MVU’s Freshman Forward Bella Bigelow dribbles the ball past Goalie Emma Philbrook and Milton’s Julianna O’Halloran (#33) to score her first varsity goal with 4:53 left in the second half, sealing Missisquoi’s win, 3-0, over Milton in Saturday’s first game of the season. Rachel N. Lamoureux, County Courier

The Yellowjackets made one final attempt to place a shot on the Thunderbirds’ goal getting to the top of the circle, only to be denied any further advancement. 

With less than five minutes left, the Thunderbirds converted another corner with a McFadden pass to Sweeney, moving the ball toward the net with Freshman Bella Bigelow finding the back of the cage and assisted by Naomi Rose Edele. 

Missisquoi ended the season opening game 3-0, with Thunderbird Goalie Favreau-Ward untested. Milton’s goalie, Emma Philbrook, tallied 13 saves. MVU had 10 penalty corners and Milton had none.

Optimistic, Milton Head Coach Meghann Rowley was happy with her Yellowjackets, “This was a good opening game of the season. MVU is always a strong team and they moved the ball well. We know what we have to work on to move the ball up the field.” The Yellowjackets graduated a half dozen seniors in June, leaving big shoes to fill for the 2019 season. 

MVU will host North Country on Monday, September 9th at 4 pm.