TAUNTON — They know how to finish.
Once again, the Somerset Berkley Raiders dominated the final stages of their tournament game. They did all their scoring in the last 16 minutes and got shutout goaltending from sophomore Madison Ferrara to defeat Walpole 3-0 for the Division 1 South field hockey championship on Saturday afternoon at Taunton High School's Aleixo Field.
Freshman Lauren Rothwell scored the sectional winner at 15:51. Junior Lucas Crook and senior Olivia Silva followed, giving the second-seeded Raiders (21-1-0) their first South crown since 2000 (when they also defeated Walpole in the final) and a date with North champion Masconomet in the state semifinals on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Braintree High School.
The game's first 44 minutes or so were closely contested. Much as they did in the 3-1 come-from-behind semifinal win over King Philip, the Raiders turned on the jets to close things out, this time against the only team to defeat them this season.
"I just felt we were the more conditioned team," said Lucas Crook, who assisted on the third goal after beating two defenders along the right baseline and crossing.
"We like to run," said SBR coach Jen Crook, who has long emphasized distance running as part of her practices. "Maybe our condition, I don't know. I think once we got that first goal, they really started to turn up their fire. And they wanted it more."
"The last 15 minutes, you always want to pick up the intensity," SBR senior captain and left wing Corissa Amaral said, "because we know how important it is to score in that time frame. And we just want to be able to finish it off strong. We don't want to finish it off weak."
Sidelined by pneumonia early in the South playoffs, Amaral on Saturday briefly appeared to have given the Raiders a 1-0 lead at 24:34 of the second half. She said she tipped a hard cross which wound up in the Walpole goal. The two game officials conferred and decided the ball had not gone in off an SBR stick.
SBR field hockey vs Walpole. Salsinha shook off the hit. @sb_raiders @megan_salsinha pic.twitter.com/BZ8GPRGiYu
— Greg Sullivan (@GregSullivanHN) November 11, 2018
Not too long before the late SBR deluge, the top-seeded Porkers (20-2-0 final record) mounted their last threat, with sophomore Molly Weiand shooting wide from in close.
On the winning goal, senior captain Megan Salsinha wheeled for one of her trademark, strong, sweeping reverse sticks. Walpole goalie Giovanna Anello saved but Rothwell, positioned in front of the right post, quickly controlled the rebound and knocked the ball into the right corner.
Asked to recreate the magic moment, a joyful and tearful Rothwell said, "I don't even remember. I just remember it hitting the back of the net."
At 9:53, Crook, at the left post, jammed home a short shot. Salsinha again assisted.
At 5:05, Crook's cross found Silvia perfectly positioned at the left post for a one-timer.
Junior Alex Millar said the strong finishes are about attitude as well as about conditioning.
"In the last 15 minutes, we know that we have to keep the pace up," he said. "When we want to score, we are able to put the goals in. But we have to put in the work and effort. And sometimes we get caught up in the first half of just settling and not running to the ball. So in the last 15 minutes, we tend to run to the ball more. And that's why we're able to win the last 15 minutes of every game."
Somerset Berkley finished with an 11-9 edge in shots on goal.
Email Greg Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @GregSullivanHN.