Gabriel Richard played their first official game of their inaugural season at Irish Field on Wednesday evening and posted an impressive 3-0 win over the West Bloomfield Lakers in a MHSFHA Division II match.
The game’s first half saw the Irish control much of the play on the field. The ball control displayed by FGR unfortunately did not translate into goals as the Lakers played a “bend don’t break” defense which thwarted several opportunities of the Irish.
The first half ended in a scoreless draw.
During halftime, the FGR coaching staff made some adjustments and the Irish began to put heavy pressure on the West Bloomfield defense.
Shortly after a minute had passed in the second half, the Irish got a corner opportunity. The ensuing play saw a shot towards goal by sophomore Molly O’Leary in which Irish sophomore Sarah Whittaker redirected the ball into the net to give FGR its first ever lead at 1-0.
About 12 minutes later, the Irish were once again getting solid offensive pressure in the Laker circle when junior Ann Rushing redirected another O’Leary shot around the West Bloomfield goalie for a 2-0 lead.
The Irish never looked back after that and tacked on a final goal when Whittaker scored her second of the day in similar fashion to the first as she redirected a corner play shot into the cage.
Anna Nalukwago recorded two saves to pick up the win in goal.
“This was a great way to start our program here at FGR,” said Coach Craig Flocken. “We are so short on experience so no one knew what quite to expect. The results today gave our new players a nice boost of confidence that they can play the game of field hockey when it counts.”
Flocken said the key to Richard’s success was on the defensive end.
“Our defensive players were able to shut West Bloomfield down nearly every time they got close to our 25-yard line,” he said. “The defense created so many turnovers which in turn led to a steady offensive pressure that eventually resulted in goals. It was a solid team D effort.
“West Bloomfield got us off balance in the first half. When we met as a team at halftime, the coaches just pointed out some minor adjustments we needed to make and the players took it from there. They really dominated the possession and field of play and when you can do both of those… good things will happen.”
It was a satisfying way to not only start a program, but start a season.
“The coaching staff is proud of the team,” Flocken said. “They have been working hard during preseason to learn our system and it was nice to see them be able to come out of their first official game for FGR field hockey with a victory.”