Stow-Munroe Falls and Western Reserve Academy are separated by just a few miles. The two field hockey rivals have played some great games over the years.
The match Sept. 12 at Bulldog Stadium was no exception as the teams fought for every inch. The Pioneers' Julia Gasbarre found the back of the net with 2:35 remaining in overtime, notching the 1-0 win for Reserve.
The extra period featured a burst of scoring opportunities for both teams as they explored the wide-open field of the seven-versus-seven overtime format.
After several near misses at both goals, Gasbarre took control of the ball down the right sideline and outran Stow's defense, squeezing her shot between Stow freshman goalkeeper Audrey Stone and junior sweeper Kerri Lockard for the victory.
Both teams played their own brand of "bend but don't break" defense throughout the match.
While defense was the name of the game, the Pioneers enjoyed an early scoring opportunity shortly after a penalty corner at the 20:20 mark of the first half.
Gasbarre pushed through Stow's defense but her first shot on goal was deflected by Stone. The teams traded field possession and then the Bulldogs took control and applied relentless pressure on Reserve's defense.
Senior forwards Sam Houk and Leanne Bunnell and Sophomore forward Katie Goodenow fought for shots at the goal when Reserve's goalkeeper trapped the ball underneath her body with 12 minutes remaining in the first half, resulting in a penalty.
Houk took the penalty stroke, but her shot to the left side of the goal was defended well.
Early in the second half, Houk had another opportunity to score as she raced past several Pioneers and found herself one-on-one with Reserve's goalkeeper.
This time Houk's shot was kicked back and the Pioneers regained possession and pushed the ball deep into Stow's scoring zone. Stow's back line -- seniors Gabby Kingston, Maddy Fink and Audra Harris, along with Lockard, -- held their ground and kept the Pioneers offense at bay once again.
After a Stow timeout at the 9:41 mark of the second half, Lockard changed the field possession with a long hit into Reserve's territory.
Senior midfielder Jessica Lloyd navigated through the Pioneer defense and found Bunnell at the right side of the goal, but yet again the Reserve defense rebuffed Stow's attack and sent the ball back to midfield. The two teams fought for possession until Reserve mounted another scoring opportunity, earning a penalty corner with 4:39 remaining in regulation. Junior midfielder Audrey Grone found Kingston who drilled the ball from the 35 toward the goal but the pass trickled out of bounds. The Bulldogs maintained the ball deep in Reserve's territory but once again the Pioneer defense withstood the assault. As time was expiring in regulation, Houk took one more shot at goal but with one second remaining Reserve's goalkeeper kicked the ball away.
The overtime period was a thrilling race up-and-down the field. Lockard and Stone teamed up to make several outstanding saves until Gasbarre clinched the win for the Pioneers.
With the loss, the Bulldogs dropped to 2-3 as of press time.
Stow was set to play Hathaway Brown at Bulldog Stadium Sept. 15, followed by a trip to suburban Pittsburgh Sept. 17 to face Pine-Richland and Upper Saint Clair. Results of these matches were not available at press time.
Stow will play at Magnificat Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. before travelling to Shaker Heights Sept. 22 at 4:30 p.m.