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By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Two field hockey teams with high expectations this season met at Nora Searle Field on Monday for an early-season Division II vs. Division I non-conference showdown as Dover-Sherborn hosted Needham.
Thanks to a goal by junior Grace Kelley and a 13-save performance in net by Cammie Foster, the Rockets fought off a late surge by DS to claim a 1-0 victory.
Senior captain Payton Ahola nearly put the Raiders on the board less than three minutes in with a shot that caught a pair of deflections and was kicked aside by Foster. Grace Kelley flew in on a breakaway moments later, but was stuffed by the right pad of goalie Sabrina Ryan, keeping the game scoreless.
With 21:56 remaining, Kelley avenged the missed breakaway opportunity by burying a beautiful floater up and over the shoulder of Ryan on a rush down the left wing, giving Needham a 1-0 lead and seizing momentum for the Rockets. With five minutes to play in the half, DS received a pair of consecutive penalty corners, the first turned aside by the pad of Foster and the second just missing the left post on a shot from Ahola. Needham took their one-goal lead into halftime.
The second half saw DS carry the majority of the play as Needham began to play conservatively and tighten up defensively. The Raiders received four straight penalty corner attempts with about 11 minutes to play - two were saved by Foster, one blocked, and the final one was cleared out. DS made a final push to tie the game with a penalty corner in the final minute, but a great play by Kelley winning a battle for a loose ball and a clear down the field sealed the deal. Needham escaped with the 1-0 win.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.