Editor's Note: Video highlights and reaction are attached to this article. Also in a second video, you can watch the game-winning save by Herra complete with and up close slow motion replay.
In the field hockey postseason, there is such a thing as sudden death overtime. But Wilmington never had to experience that thanks to a dramatic save by goaltender Casey Herra that gave the Wildcats sudden life at the end of regulation.
Herra used her mask to knock a Marblehead shot wide as the final second ticked off the clock in the second half, sealing a 1-0 opening round home win on Thursday night at Alumni Stadium.
Marblehead’s Hannah Fobert put the ball on net on a set play called by her head coach in hopes of tying the game and forcing overtime. Instead Wilmington toppled visiting Marblehead in the playoffs for a second straight year.
“I didn’t really know what to think,” said Herra. “It kind of bounced off of my foot and into my face. I think we got a little lucky. But I think our hard work paid off that whole game.”
It appeared the game was going into halftime scoreless until Rachel Alatalo connected on a pass from Amanda Richards with less than one minute to play in the frame.
Though Marblehead had several second half scoring chances, that goal was enough thanks to the efforts of Herra and the Wildcat defense.
Wilmington’s reward is a daunting second round match up with juggernaut Watertown, which defeated the locals 6-0 in the regular season.
Despite that loss, Wilmington sophomore Lauren Fitch said the Wildcats are confident heading into Saturday’s road tilt that begins at 4 p.m.
“We definitely learned (from the regular season meeting) to work both halves and not to look at someone’s statstics and say, ‘Oh. They’re number one,’” said Fitch. “We have to look at it like they tie their shoes the same way we do and we have to play as hard as we can.”