As sophomores, the Knights advanced to the playoffs for the first time in a number of years before missing out on the postseason all together as juniors. Now, as seniors, Poland returns to the playoffs, and it does so with a little bit of momentum.
Senior Ainsley Parent and junior Carly King scored for the Knights as they defeated Waynflete, 2-0, on Wednesday to put a bow on their regular season. Poland held a 27-2 advantage in shots on goal.
“It’s really amazing,” Parent said. “We’ve worked so hard for this since our freshman year. We’ve really come a long way from where we were four years ago. Winning, especially on senior night, really means a lot.”
Goals were at a premium for the Knights with Kiera MacWhinnie in net for the Flyers (4-9-1), but Parent was able to find the back of the cage with 26:55 remaining in the first half. Emily Gibson did most of the work, getting the ball into the circle and behind MacWhinnie before Parent pushed it over the goal line for the early 1-0 lead.
The Knights (9-5) looked poised to run away with the regular-season finale, but MacWhinnie stood on her head in net and kept the opposition off the board the rest of the half.
“My goalie played awesome today,” Waynflete coach Kelly Hoffman said. “I’ve never been prouder of her. She was fantastic. This was a scrappy team. We love playing Poland. They always come out and play hard and play strong. I’m happy they had a lot of shots on goal and gave my goalie a run for her money.”
MacWhinnie finished with 25 saves, stopping many point-blank shots throughout the contest.
“She was outstanding,” Poland coach Amy Hediger said. “She comes out really far out of the net and is fearless. She knocked down all of our shots except for two. She was fearless.”
Clinging to a 1-0 lead, the Knights found some breathing room when King was able to flick a shot over a sprawling MacWhinnie with 8:12 remaining to give Poland a two-goal cushion. MacWhinnie made a diving stop on Amanda Dube, but gave up a rebound, which found the stick of King in front of the net.
“There were a lot of emotions in this game even though we were winning,” King said. “Getting that extra goal helped pump the team up and we really came together on that.”
In between Poland’s two goals was plenty of physical play. Minutes before King’s goal, the officials halted the game for approximately five minutes to talk to both teams in an effort to clean up the physical play. Dube was issued a green card with 13:34 remaining.
“It’s a lot of emotions when you have eight seniors on our team and them thinking it’s their last game on their home field,” Hediger said. “As we go into the playoffs it looks like we’ll be the visiting team.”
Poland goalkeeper Tia Lowndes had a mostly uneventful afternoon. She stopped both shots she faced in the first half and didn’t see a shot come her way in the second half.
The Knights held a 10-5 advantage in penalty corners.