2007-10-05 / Team Leominster

Junior rivalry

Even at JV level, Leominster-Fitchburg games stand out
BY PATRICK SARGENT CHAMPION CORRESPONDENT

Leominster and Fitchburg high schools battled it out in junior varsity field hockey last week, and the Blue Devils came out on top, 2-0. Leominster's Maesa Phongsamouth battles Fitchburg's Erica Dellogono, with a crowd of Red Raiders watching the in background. CHAMPION PHOTOS / BRYAN FOX Leominster and Fitchburg high schools battled it out in junior varsity field hockey last week, and the Blue Devils came out on top, 2-0. Leominster's Maesa Phongsamouth battles Fitchburg's Erica Dellogono, with a crowd of Red Raiders watching the in background. CHAMPION PHOTOS / BRYAN FOX Last week, some relative newcomers to Leominster High School's oldest rivalry got ready to rumble one more time. And even though they were new to the scene, Blue Devil junior varsity field hockey players know exactly what it means to play Fitchburg.

"We're going to win," said Leominster sophomore goaltender Katie Creed. "We're pumped up, we want to play Fitchburg."

On the other sideline, the feeling was mutual.

"I want to kick butt. This game really brings up the intensity level," said Fitchburg sophomore Tiffany Richard.

Although it's only at the JV level, even the coaches understand the importance of the game.

"Fitchburg is such a big game. We want to win. It's the type of game that if you lose, you'll have tears in your eyes," said Leominster head coach Alicia McAllister.

Leominster's Allison O'Connor sends a free hit toward the net against Fitchburg last week. CHAMPION PHOTOS / BRYAN FOX Leominster's Allison O'Connor sends a free hit toward the net against Fitchburg last week. CHAMPION PHOTOS / BRYAN FOX Leading up to this game, the respective coaches are responsible for helping the girls develop their skills for the remainder of the season and for their future varsity careers.

Leominster's JV squad practices with their varsity squad to help better their skills.

"We run, do sprints and drills together. When they come out as freshman, the girls learn how to handle a stick and hit a ball," said McAllister. "We practice talking and communicating, and locating passes on the field."

The practice has certainly paid off for the Blue Devils, as they scored 12 goals in their first four games.

"The team has really improved from last season, and the defense has done very well keeping the ball out of our goal," McAllister said.

On a team with eight freshmen, nine sophomores and three juniors, McAllister stresses the idea that though the girls may be ready to move up to the varsity level, they still are going to have to work hard to make the team next year.

"When you have such big groups, you need to bust your butt to make it to the next level," McAllister said.

Sophomore captain Maesa Phongsamouth said, "We know we have to step it up because our group moving up next year is so large."

And step it up they did. The first half of the game was scoreless, as both Fitchburg and Leominster displayed solid defense. At the end of the first half, Leominster put the pressure on, but Fitchburg held it together and was able to keep them out of the goal.

However, the second half was all Leominster. Junior Katherine Mazza- ferro and freshman Alyssa Farnsworth each scored a goal to put the Red Raiders away, 2-0.

No matter what the final score was, the direction of the coaches was not lost on either team and it proved to be the case as both teams played a very competitive and intense game.

"At the JV level you just have to work hard," said Leominster sophomore Becky St. Jean. " It's not necessarily about skills, you have to give it everything you've got."

Later in the week, Leominster would tie Wachusett, 1-1. Kirsten Richard scored Leominster's goal, while Phongsamouth notched the assist. Katie Creed made four saves on five shots. After the tie, Leominster is 5-2-1 on the season.

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