CVU field hockey team headed for title contest

Redhawk senior Lily Schmoker drives the ball down the field during Tuesday's semifinal game against Rutland High. (Observer photo by Al Frey)
Redhawk senior Lily Schmoker drives the ball down the field during Tuesday’s semifinal game against Rutland High. (Observer photo by Al Frey)

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

For the second time in three seasons, the Champlain Valley Union High field hockey team is in the Division 1 championship contest.

The Redhawks’ 3-1 semifinal victory over Rutland High Tuesday night at South Burlington boosted them into the title test Saturday at the University of Vermont against the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between top seed Essex High (13-0-1) and Middlebury Union (8-4-2), the fourth seed. That game was played at Middlebury College after the Observer’s press deadline.

CVU coach Kate McDonald said after her team’s triumph that either Essex or Middlebury will be a tough foe in the crowning game.

She pointed out that the Redhawks tied the Hornets at home and lost to them in Essex, while the Hawks nipped Middlebury in overtime at CVU. A second late season game with the Tigers was cancelled.

McDonald’s senior-laden (10) squad was led Tuesday by junior forward Kate Machavern’s two goals while senior forward Kate Burke also launched a tally. Rutland goalies Laura Hewitt and Courtney Casey were formidable as they combined for seven saves during CVU’s several sustained attacks.

“In a playoff game it is important to get the first goal and get rid of the jitters and then relax,” said McDonald.

Machavern took care of that just over two minutes into the nocturnal contest, rapping the ball past Hewitt from a scramble in front of the Rutland cage.

“She has a good nose for the goal,” said the coach of Machavern, who has been a leading producer for the Redhawks.

Burke, with an assist from Sami Harvey after a penalty corner, put CVU up 2-0 with six minutes and 11 seconds left in the first half.

Machavern, a converted midfielder, rang up her second pointer five minutes into the second half out of a CVU offensive storm in which Casey made at least three stops before the CVU junior popped the ball past the hustling Rutland netminder.

Machavern said that was also an important score because “they (Rutland) can always come back.”

In fact, the Red Raiders did when Allie Wolf caught junior CVU keeper Tashia Pashby Rockwood (three stops) out of the goal mouth trying to control a dangerous threat. Wolf steered the ball past the CVU goalie and into the empty cage.

But, no panic by the Redhawks.

“We kept up our intensity,” said senior defender Kathryn Asch, a dynamo CVU back liner who, from her center defense position, disrupted many of Rutland’s attempts at ball control.

“We were able to create more offense, but they had strong goalies,” said McDonald adding that it “was good to play on a great surface (turf).”

The Redhawks were also on turf Friday when they played their way to the semifinal with a 2-1 victory over seventh-seeded Mount Mansfield Union at Middlebury College. The game was switched from CVU because of poor playing conditions at the Redhawks drenched fields.

Seniors Lily Schmoker and Lauren Macy chalked up the Redhawks’ scores and Pashby-Rockwood came up with 10 saves against the Cougars, with whom CVU divided two regular season contests.