Somerset Berkley Captures D1 Title in 2-1 Thriller

Somerset-Berkley is Field Hockey Royalty.


Xaiver Aguiar, Sports Journalist

The Somerset Berkley Raiders Field Hockey down the Nashoba Chieftains and capture the programs first-ever Massachusetts Division 1 State Championship.

Sports of course has may different phrases such as”Blitz for 6,””Trust the Process and “Do Damage.”  The Field Hockey teams motto was a little more direct, as it was simply “Ring Szn”.  Short yet effective. Saturday afternoon at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the phrase became a reality.

SB defeated Nashoba 2-1 in overtime to capture the schools first EVER Massachusetts D1 championship. It was an incredible game, as both teams fought tooth and nail for their respective sides to come away the victor.

The game started off with lots of action, as within the first minute SB already was already with a penalty corner. For the rest of the first half, it was pretty deadlocked; there were not too many real scoring opportunities. Both teams made pushes at the end of the half to try to score, but they were dealt with rather quickly. Going into the half tied 0-0 and without either team really dominating any stat, it was anyone’s game.

It was clear that at the beginning of the second half that coach Jen Crooks’ halftime speech lit a fire within the team. The Raiders came out firing on all cylinders and looked to be playing with a purpose. Constant pressure in Nashoba’s zone was finally rewarded as at the 22-minute mark of the second half Lucas Crook tipped in a deflected ball to put SB on the board 1-0. As the Somerset-Berkley fans erupted with applause, it seemed as if SB would coast to the finish as they had the previous 2 games prior. That, however, was not the case.

The Nashoba girls looked extremely defeated after Crook scored, but they probably just deserve some Oscars. After some deadlock play, Nashoba turned up the heat. For the next few minutes, the Chieftain girls were on a mission. It was the only time in the entire playoff run where it seemed an offense was giving SBs lockdown defense fits. After multiple corners, it was Nashoba’s Erica Spallone who rifled a shot home to tie the game up with just 12 minutes to go in regulation. After a lot of back and forth from both teams it was clear: this one needed overtime.

In the extra period, Jen Crook put her best 7 players out on the field against a team loaded with D1 commits and it was quite clear that this was a special moment. The overtime period started off fast as Nashoba’s stars came out fast and looked to end it early. They pushed the ball early and Somerset Goalie Madison Ferrara made a great kick stop that saved the game for her team. After a few Chieftain corners, the Raiders found new life. After some great pressure in the Nashoba zone, it finally happened. Lucas Crook juked out some Chieftain defenders, passed it to his left to a wide-open Megan Salsinha who then made a brilliant pass to a streaking Lucas who was able to push it past the goalie for the game winner. It was an incredible moment.

Raider fans went absolutely nuts as everyone was high-fiving and hugging each other. On the field, it was even more of a special moment. The six players on the field ran over to one another and embraced in a big group hug as the rest of the team jumped up in excitement and made their way onto the field. It was something the fans in attendance, certainly the players, and I will never forget.

This team was definitely a spectacle to watch all season long; it is hard to find a place to start.  Throughout the whole playoffs, a player of note had to have been Midfielder Cami Crook, as she put on a dribbling clinic. Throughout the game, she was able to put the ball between others legs, juke them out constantly and really just make them look lost.  “Oohs and Aahs” constantly rained from the bleachers.  Cami is just a  sophomore, which means that the best is yet to come for her.

As previously mentioned, the Raider defense was absolutely amazing.  Juniors Janey Silvia and Alex Millar along with sophomore Kayleigh McDonald were stout the entire playoff run. They rarely let other teams get past them, and they made some incredible plays as well. Millar had some very impressive goals in the playoffs as well, one being an absolute laser of a backhander which sealed the win prior vs. Masconoment.

More praise goes to Lauren Rothwell, just a freshman, who played extremely well. She, too, was able to net a goal and was all around just a fantastic player for the team. Lucas Crook was able to find the back of the net numerous times and just like his sister had some amazing stick skills.

Last and certainly not least, praise has to go to senior Meghan Salsinha. She proved why she was the leading goal scorer in the conference as she put constant pressure on the opposing team’s goalie and was also able to put net some goals herself. Meghan is committed to D1 college Umass Lowell; she is the first athlete from Somerset committed to a D1 program in recent memory. The level of play she has provided is incredible, and definitely goes underappreciated in the local media.

No matter what some keyboard warriors would like to say, Somerset Berkley does, in fact, deserve their championship. Forty-nine boys play field hockey in the MIAA, yet only Somerset’s get hated because they are good. As sad as it is, the boys and the team have learned to just tune it out. They know they are the champions, and the looks on the team’s faces after they won were priceless. Congratulations again must go out to the coaches and players of the 2018 Somerset Berkley Raiders on an incredible season. Boy, was it something special!