Weekly Feature

2018-10-11 / Sports

Iroquois field hockey rallies to beat Pioneer


Iroquois’ field hockey team stood at the precipice of uncertainty after the first half of Friday’s contest with Pioneer, a squad that the Lady Chiefs have had some memorable clashes with in the past.

Trailing 2-0, coach Pete Tonsoline noted that his squad wasn’t quite out of the running, but with Pioneer scoring twice early in the game – using a boost from a larger-than-normal Homecoming crowd – the Lady Chiefs “were definitely in a battle for sure.” A tough start to the second half would have almost certainly meant inescapable doom for Iroquois, so Tonsoline made some halftime adjustments in a bid to jump start his squad.

Those switches paid off early and often in the second half for Iroquois, as the Iroquois’ Ella Sturm chases down the ball as East Aurora’s Madison Dziulko pursues her during the Lady Chiefs’ 5-0 triumph over their crosstown rivals on Oct. 3. Photo by Don Daly Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Iroquois’ Ella Sturm chases down the ball as East Aurora’s Madison Dziulko pursues her during the Lady Chiefs’ 5-0 triumph over their crosstown rivals on Oct. 3. Photo by Don Daly Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Lady Chiefs rallied for four unanswered goals to secure the 4-2 victory.

“Pioneer was a huge game for us,” Tonsoline said. “It’s always difficult for us to go down there and play there, and they were doing extremely well going into the game. We knew getting off the bus that we were going to be going up against a team playing with a couple of extra doses of adrenaline, so if they had been able to go up 3-0 it would’ve been like climbing a mountain. You don’t really battle back from that kind of a deficit very often; it’s really the kiss of death in field hockey.”

Liz Fonfara got the ball rolling for Iroquois early in the second half, while Ava D’Amato recorded the tying and insurance goals. Quinn Wierzbowski picked up what would be the game winner for the Lady Chiefs, while Riley DeGrace assisted on three of the four tallies. Goalie Madison Miranda stopped three of the shots she faced in net for the victors, who extended their winning streak to 10 games with the triumph.

“Pioneer doesn’t really like Iroquois that much, so to be down two goals at the half was certainly challenging,” Tonsoline said. “When we tied it up, you could see they were starting to get unnerved a little bit because we were really starting to generate a good deal of offense at that point. They made a few rushes late in the half, but they didn’t have the cohesion that they had in the first half.

“It was just a great game that could’ve gone either way,” Tonsoline continued. “I knew the girls would find a way to do what we needed to do. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them again down the line come playoff time.”

Iroquois came into the Pioneer contest looking to play well following shutout victories over East Aurora and Holland earlier in the week. Hayden Herbold secured her fifth shutout of the season in guiding the Lady Chiefs to a 5-0 triumph over the Lady Blue Devils on Oct. 3, needing to make just one save.

Fonfara and Hanna Grucza each scored twice to pace the Lady Chiefs’ attack, while Madison Kasten added the other tally.

“East Aurora actually played us pretty well defensively under the lights on their new field,” Tonsoline said. “They gave us a little bit of trouble in the circle. It took us some time to get readjusted to turf – we were forcing the ball a bit too much – but once I took a timeout and told the attackers that they were playing a great game for grass, they slowed their pace down a little bit and we started to go to town. We’ve got some big turf games coming up, though, so this was good practice for us.”

Iroquois’ week began on Oct. 1 with a 6-0 triumph over Holland. Kasten recorded the hat trick to lead the charge for the Lady Chiefs, while Wierzbowski added a goal and two assists. Fonfara chipped in with a goal and an assist, while D’Amato had the other goal. Miranda stopped one shot in net to secure the win.

The Lady Chiefs (11-2 overall) returned to action Wednesday against Amherst, but information about that contest was not available at press time. Iroquois completes its regular season with road games against Williamsville South Friday and Williamsville East on Monday.

“All three of our final opponents are good schools, but this group has worked so hard during the offseason and they’ve been a fantastic group to work with,” Tonso- line said. “We’ve just got to maintain the level of play we’ve had as of late, and get even better. We just need to refine our small things – like how we defend corners and how we attack off them – as we just keep working on improving our game in segments right now.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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