Barker's back on track with win over Wilson

James Neiss/staff photographerBarker field hockey’s Emily Wagner (19) smashes the ball during the Lady Raiders’ 7-0 win over Wilson on Tuesday in local Niagara-Orleans league action. 

WILSON — Barker field hockey is still a team not to scoff at. The Lady Raiders were able to bounce back from a two-game skid with a huge 7-0 win over Wilson on Tuesday. Barker now sits at 2-0 in the Niagara-Orleans league, one of three undefeated teams left in league play.

The game was scoreless for the first 10 minutes of action, before Ciara Gregoire got things going with an unassisted goal. She would score her second goal of the night on a Serena Harris assist before she dished her own dime to Rachel Hurtgam with just under three minutes left to play in the first half.

Barker would then put a stamp on a dominant 4-0 first half 24 seconds later, with Hurtgam doing her own distributing to Emily Wagner. Once the second half began, it was Katrina Clare and Virginia Alexander who would take over.

The senior attacks would connect for two second half scores, with Clare setting Alexander up twice to put the Lady Raiders up 6-0. Clare would take matters into her own hands from there, scoring unassisted with about 17 minutes to go.

The notable player on Wilson’s side was goaltender Sierra Shepherd, who handled 18 saves for the game.

The night really belonged to Gregoire and Clare, who dominated the team’s offensive performance by accounting for three points a piece.

“It was nice to get a good win and shots on goal,” Clare said. “Which we’re not struggling with, but it’s something that felt good to have (because against) Medina we didn’t get a lot of shots on goal and scoring. So it’s nice to feel the attack being strong again.”

Gregoire was also pleased with the team’s effort, especially in comparison to how the team had played in the two games prior.

“It was to have the opportunities because sometimes when we play tougher teams I feel like we kind of shut down,” Gregoire said. “We put it on ourselves that we’re not doing a good job. But when we get the chance to have a game like this, when we’re just putting it in the net and everyone’s connecting well, it’s just a good feeling.”

Head coach Jeffrey Costello talked about the defensive effort as well, with goalie Courtney Hillman making 22 saves to complete the shutout.

“A lot of times, our defense starts with our attacks,” Costello said. “So if our attack is doing what they need to do, when we’re angling up and setting up to defend the free hit for the other team, if they’re where they need to be then it makes everything else just fall into line.”

Barker finally found its footing, literally and figuratively. Costello said Wilson’s grass field allowed his team to slow down and pace itself after opening up with three games on turf.

The Lady Raiders were able to take their first N-O matchup of the season in a 2-1 over Medina on Sept. 3. Things got dicey from there, as they dropped their first two non-league games during a trip to Pennsylvania.

Costello understood just how important this game was, especially in helping the girls turn the corner from the weekend slide

“We didn’t play terrible. As a matter of fact we played better in the second game,” Costello said. “We just didn’t get the result we wanted. I mean, we’ve had an advantage in penalty corners in all of our games so far. We just have struggled to score.

“We put a bunch of shots on their goalie today that she made some great clears on our team” he added. “But we were able to finally find the back of the goal cage.”

Gregoire did not want to focus so much on the fact that the Lady Raiders took their first game against the Lakewomen, who they’ll play again on Oct. 3 to close out their regular season series. She and the team look for every opportunity they could to secure victory in order to live up to expectations as one of the teams just on the cusp of being in maxfieldhockey.com’s Preseason Northeast Region Top 20 Rankings.

“Every win is important to us, that’s like a thing for us,” Gregoire said. “The tradition of success, we want to go as far as we possibly can. So it doesn’t matter what team we’re playing, we’re always gonna go hard and we’re always gonna try to win.”

Clare feels the same way and has talked to the team about not resting on the laurels of last season’s sectional and regional titles.

“We talked to our players at the beginning of the season. Last year’s in the books,” Clare said. “It’s a good memory but this year, we started from the beginning and we’ve gotta still beat every team. We’ve gotta get to where we got last year if we want to be that successful.”

Barker has a pivotal game coming Thursday night, battling with Akron for the lead in the N-O standings. Wilson (1-2, 1-2 N-O) gets back to work the same night, taking on Sacred Heart in non-league action.

For more from sports reporter Khari Demos, follow him on Twitter @riri_demos.

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