on October 28, 2015 1:04 PM
It was a cold fifty degree fall night with a crisp wind blowing over Jerry Niehaus Field as the Chelsea Field Hockey team warmed up before their quarterfinal playoff game against the visiting Novi Wildcats. Music was playing over the loudspeakers and although Chelsea had not played in almost two weeks, they looked loose, relaxed, and ready to go. Novi, on the other hand, was coming in after a hard fought 2-0 victory over Grosse Pointe South four days earler, while Chelsea had the first round bye.
“The team is relaxed, they’re ready,” said Head Coach Leslie Fry before the game. “They’re very focused and we are feeling very good.” The team was laughing and joking with each other and even dancing a little bit before the game. But they knew there was a task at hand to be done. And they were ready.
For not playing for a while and in spite of the bitter chill, the rust was shaken off early. Chelsea came out strong with a solid defense, the defense that allowed them to win the Division 1 Regular Season Championship. Novi could get the ball deep but as soon as they did there was a Chelsea defender to take it away. The passing lanes were being taken away and Chelsea was not allowing any outside execution by the Wildcats. When Novi did get a shot on net, goaltender Payton Doan was there to challenge and stop every shot she faced. Although a freshman in her first year as starting goalie, Doan played with confidence of a very seasoned playoff veteran.
The Wildcats knew in this one and done matchup that they too had to play a tough defense knowing that the scoring capability of Chelsea isn’t limited to just one person. A big part of their strategy was to try to take Senior Captain Maggie Cole out of the game by double teaming her most of the game. But at about the 20 minute minute mark of the first half it was Cole, surrounded by several Wildcat defenders, taking a pass from the speedster Jessi Olmsted and burying the shot into the Wildcats goal for a 1-0 Chelsea lead.
Novi turned up the pressure as time wound down in the game but the Chelsea defense would not allow itself to be conquered as Senior Gabbi Wink helped control the flow of the game as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The solo Cole goal would turn out to be the difference in the game as both teams defenses played very strong. Chelsea was victorious as the team recorded it’s 10th shutout game of the season.
Chelsea will advance to the semifinals where they will face a very determined Ann Arbor Skyline team who had defeated Ann Arbor Huron in overtime earlier in the night, 3-2. The game will be at Ann Arbor Pioneer Stadium at 7 p.m. on Thursday, the 29th.