After leading for more than 30 minutes of its Sept. 14 contest at Mount Vernon, the West Springfield field hockey team suddenly found itself on the defensive. The Majors had tied the score at 1-1 with 5:18 remaining in the second half and were on the attack, poised to steal the game.
Last season, the Spartans might have been in trouble. But this time, they didn’t panic. West Springfield survived the shock of losing a late lead and senior attack Danielle O’Brien scored the game-winning goal with 21.5 seconds remaining.
"I think that’s one thing that’s different about our team," O’Brien said. "When we get scored on we don’t get down on ourselves. We pick each other up. We know what happened, we have to move forward."
One week later and the Spartans enter a Sept. 23 contest against T.C. Williams with a 6-3-1 record, 1-1 in the Patriot District. Second-year head coach Rosie Pannoni said the team is doing a better job of working together on the field.
"A big thing we’ve been working on is teamwork, passing the ball, being able to pass to each other up the field," she said, "and know where teammates are. … We are definitely working together this year. It’s more of a team. The girls are communicating with each other, learning where each other plays on the field so they’re able to just look up and pass and know where their teammates are going to be."
Pannoni said senior attack Amy Mastervich, the team’s leading scorer, has done well at positioning herself on the field.
"She kind of hangs back a little bit and she knows where her teammates are going to be to dish the ball off," the coach said. She runs, as soon as she does that, into open space and just waits. She knows to be in the back corner and send it in when the ball comes across."
Mastervich has also noticed an improved level of communication.
"I think the team talks a lot more," she said. "It’s a lot more positive this year. I think we’ve gotten a lot closer."
Pannoni said senior attack Liz Keast and senior goalkeeper Mary Walsh have also played well.
The Spartans’ last-minute victory over Mount Vernon came three days after the team won the Under the Lights tournament, during which West Springfield beat Gar-Field, West Potomac and Lee and tied against Fairfax.
"This is a big confidence boost," Pannoni said, "knowing we can do it, we can score, we can win."