By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
There are some games that are far closer than what the final score might suggest, and there are other games that are nowhere near as close as the final score shows. In the case of Walpole’s 2-1 win over Franklin on Saturday afternoon, the final score is far from indicative of just how dominant Walpole was, particularly in the second half.
The Porkers took a quick lead in the first half, just eight minutes into the game. However, just three minutes later, the Panthers responded with a goal of their own. With the game tied at one, both teams stagnated on offense until, with eight minutes left before the half, Franklin had a huge chance to take the lead and the momentum: they were awarded a penalty shot. A huge save from Gigi Anello, however, who slapped the ball down with her pads at about eye level, would prove pivotal in the game. With no time left on the clock, Sydney Scales slapped the ball out of bounds off a Franklin corner, and both sides went into the half tied, 1-1.
While the first half was close, Walpole dominated the second. Playing on the football field, it was rare to see the ball make it past the twenty-yard line, with Franklin’s goal set up on the end-zone line. But, despite the Porkers having chance after chance and corner after corner, the game remained tied 1-1 for the majority of the period. Finally, with seven minutes left, Walpole scored what would be the game winner. Despite having this lead, the Rebels - especially Scales and Caroline Whelan - were significantly more aggressive than their opponents until the end.
The Boston Globe had ranked Franklin as the second-best team in the state as recently as September 26, so the win was a huge one for Walpole. When it came to how the team was able to win, Walpole coach Jen Quinn credited a tweak to the lineup.
“We made a couple changes to our lineup, and I think that was really the difference today,” she said. “Lila MacKinnon and Caroline Whelan, we switched them as a forward and a mid, and they kind of just settled in, opened up a lot of stuff for us and completed the package. Sydney Scales, Natalie Griffin and Jess Tosone, the three of them today were unstoppable; by far the best three kids on the field. And, I though Gigi Anello, our goalie, came up big saving that shot. That could have been a turning point if that went in.”
Now 6-0-1, Walpole’s only blemish was a tie game against Braintree. Coach Quinn acknowledged they outplayed the Wamps and had far more shots on goal, but couldn’t seem to put the ball in the net. With Saturday’s game showing the same issue, Quinn said it was something they were working on, but likely a result of the team being so young.
“Our wings are new and actually almost all our starting lineup is new except for four of them, and of the returners, only one isn’t new on the front line, so I think that’s something we’re continuing to work on and continuing to develop - to put the game away. I felt like we completely dominated, but missed a lot of opportunities. That was my comment to them at the end, that I would’ve liked the score to be 4-1. That would’ve given us kind of like a little bit of a break, but they hung in there, dug deep and definitely played hard.”
The Walpole field hockey team is young and undefeated. When they start firing on all cylinders, they’re going to be a problem for any team in Massachusetts.