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Dec. 18, 2015 — Games of the Year, 2015

The 2015 season had a number of tremendous games with twists at the end — overtime penalty strokes, overtime penalty saves, overtime defensive saves.

Here are our Top 10 Games of the year. It was a difficult process picking matches because there were instances when teams met each other more than once, so we forced ourselves to select the one best game between two schools in such scenarios.

10. Gloucester (Va.) 3, Fredericksburg Stafford (Va.) 2
Nov. 13, 2015
VHSL Class 4A semifinal
Stafford had taken a quick 2-0 lead against an undefeated Gloucester side. The Indians had the athletes and the coaching staff to know how to manage a lead, especially in a tournament situation. But nobody told Gloucester senior Cassidy Goodwin to quit. Not at all. She had a goal in the final minute of the first half, which counts quite a bit in terms of psychology. True to form, she paced a comeback for the undefeated Dukes, capping it off in the 53rd minute of play with a shot off a penalty corner.

9. Bolton Nashoba (Mass.) 3, Barre Quabbin (Mass.) 2, OT
Nov. 12, 2015
MIAA District 1 Central final
One year ago, Nashoba Regional was playing for its first state championship game appearance in 38 years. It was also playing for Michelle Farnsworth, a sophomore who had terminal cancer and who would pass away in mid-winter 2015. But this year was a different storyline: the Chieftains wanted to get back to the state’s Final Four and did so on a dramatic goal by Rachel Farley in extra time.

8. Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.) 1, Louisville Assumption (Ky.) 0
Oct. 26, 2015
KHSAA semifinal
Assumption was having a tremendous season heading into the second annual Kentucky High School Athletic Association state field hockey tournament. The Rockets had marched through its season with hearty enthusiasm and a devil-may-care attitude. Their triumph was their performance in the Huskie Invitational. In a little over 30 hours, Assumption beat the defending state champions from Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri. But late in the season, in a third attempt to defeat Manual, the Rockets came up a bit short.

7. Emmaus (Pa.) 2, Stroudsburg (Pa.) 1, OT
Nov. 7, 2015
PIAA District 11 Class AAA Final
For more than a quarter-century, Emmaus has lorded over District 11’s field hockey universe. In 2014, one team showed it was going to try to make an insurgency on Emmaus’ empire. Stroudsburg has been getting closer and closer every year, even winning the East Penn Conference championship last year before losing to Emmaus in last year’s District 11 final. This past season, the Mounties threw speed, strength, and speed of execution against Emmaus twice, sending matches to overtime. Like in the East Penn Conference tournament final two weeks previous, Stroudsburg took Emmaus to overtime in the District 11 final. But on a crafty hi-lo from Meredith Sholder to Leah Zellner, Emmaus won the District final for the 27th season running.

6. Hudson (Ohio) 1, Gahanna Columbus Academy (Ohio) 0, OT
Nov. 6, 2015
OHSAA Semifinal
Hudson head coach Laurie Wilkins actually broke a preparation pattern before this semifinal game because she sensed something wasn’t right during warmups. A few minutes of singing and dancing settled the team down, and they played Columbus Academy even-up for 68 minutes until a stroke was called on the Vikings’  goalkeeper. Junior forward Hannah Yard converted the stroke, sending Hudson into the state championship game.

5. Wilton (Conn.) 3, Darien (Conn.) 2, OT
Nov. 13, 2014
CIAC Class L Quarterfinal
This was an unusual matchup for a Top 10 entry because it was two rounds short of the final. But these two schools have a certain championship heritage and kinship. Since 2006, one team or the other has won a Connecticut state championship. And for the most part, these titles were won in different divisions. But this year, Wilton and Darien are in the same classification, alongside the largest of the Nutmeg State’s public schools. In the game itself, Darien took a 2-0 lead at the half, but Wilton — with an effort that would have made soccer alumna Kristine Lilly proud — came all the way back and won the match in overtime.

4. Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) 3, Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.) 2, 2 OT
Nov. 17, 2015
PIAA Class AA semifinal
Crestwood, the defending state champions, had an impressive 6-0 win over Lititz Warwick (Pa.) in the early season, then beat Stroudsburg (Pa.) 3-1 in mid-September. The Comets ran the table in District 2, and took a 2-0 lead over Twin Valley in this state semifinal. But within about two minutes in the middle of the second half, the game was tied. In overtime, both teams were given penalty cards and had to play portions of overtime short. Ultimately, though, it was Kelee Lepage who came through in the 80th minute of play for the Raiders, sending them to the state final.

3. Emmaus (Pa.) 1, Palmyra (Pa.) 0, OT
Nov. 21, 2015
PIAA Class AAA Final
One year ago, these two teams met in the Class AAA semifinals, and Palmyra turned in a performance for the ages in beating Emmaus 4-0. The Hornets waited an entire year for their revenge, but were stymied by Palmyra’s defense. The Cougars also had their chances but the Emmaus penalty corner defense was extremely stout. Once the sides were reduced for overtime, however, Emmaus struck in 67 seconds through Mererdith Sholder’s tip in after Leah Zellner drew the Palmyra defense to her, then dished off to the penalty spot.

2. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 1, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 1 (Episcopal Academy wins 3-2 in penalty strokes)
Oct. 3, 2015
Falcon Classic Final
It was only 50 weeks earlier when Episcopal Academy was beaten by Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), an elite field hockey team from a large public school. But against a good Lower Dauphin side, Episcopal stayed with them and played a superb match that got better in the second half and, especially, in overtime. In the end, it was one of the few upperclasswomen on the pitch who was uncommitted to play field hockey in college — senior Corinne Kneizys — who was the difference, putting in her fifth-round stroke.

1. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 3, Madison (N.J.) Borough 2, OT
Nov. 18, 2015
NJSIAA Tournament of Champions semifinal
These two teams threw everything they had at each other, and Oak Knoll responded with some amazing defense, including a Bella Brosie defensive save in mid-air during the first half. But the Royals were down 2-1 in the final minute before Ali McCarthy slipped a hi-lo to a cutting Kirby Comizio on a penalty corner to send the game to extra time. Each team had a chance to win in the extra session, but Comizio came up with an enormous defensive save in the 66th, and Madison saved a penalty stroke two minutes later. The game ended on Gabby Andretta’s steal and score to end this instant classic.

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