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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The Needham and Westwood High School varsity field hockey teams met at DeFazio Field on Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Division I South Sectionals.
Despite trailing for the majority of the contest, the No. 8 seeded Rockets (14-4) were able rally late for a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory to fight off the ninth-seeded Wolverines (13-3-2) and advance to Monday’s quarterfinals against top-seeded Walpole.
Abigail Crowley drew first blood for Westwood with 21:21 to play in the first half when the sophomore smacked home the rebound of a shot by Kayla Conway on a penalty corner attempt, and the Wolverines seized the early 1-0 lead.
Westwood carried the majority of the play for the remainder of the half, locking down their cage and fighting off multiple penalty corner tries by the Rockets to take their one-goal edge into halftime.
Needham came out of the half firing on all cylinders in an attempt to knot the game, but were turned away by some stellar saves from Westwood keeper Megan Brown.
With 10:04 to play, Grace Kelley finally broke through for Needham, hammering home a shot on a penalty corner try to even the game at one. The game remained 1-1 through the final 10 minutes of regulation, requiring overtime to determine who would meet Walpole in the quarterfinals.
Following a scoreless overtime, the game headed to a second extra period. Lexi Schmalz served as the hero for Needham, tapping home the rebound of a shot on a penalty corner 6:06 into the period to complete the comeback and advance Needham onto the next round.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.