WOODSIDE — Jamie Trabaudo and the rest of the Polytech High field hockey team have plenty of state tournament experience.
But that doesn’t mean the Panthers are immune from feeling pressure when the tournament starts.
“We’ve always had the jitters,” Trabaudo said. “It’s just something with the tournament.”
But Polytech was able to overcome those early nerves as Trabaudo netted a pair of goals in the second half while Emma Dellert added one and the fourth-seeded Panthers downed No. 13 Ursuline Academy, 3-0, on Wednesday in the first round of the DIAA field hockey tournament.
Polytech (13-2) will attempt to make the semifinals for the fourth-straight season on Saturday when it hosts Tower Hill (14-2), the fifth seed, at noon.
Advancing to the quarterfinals didn’t seem like a certainty with the way the Panthers played in the first half. Both teams struggled to break through the midfield and Ursuline had the best chance of the half with an open shot that went wide in the final two minutes.
After a pep talk at halftime, however, the Panthers scored three goals in an eight-minute span in the second.
“Sometimes we just need the motivation from our coaches and reassurance that we can do it,” Dellert said. “We’re supposed to be here. We’ve worked so hard for this and just need to play the game the way we know we can.”
Dellert opened the scoring when she was able to tip a Trabaudo shot to redirect it by the Raiders’ goalie in the first five minutes of the second half.
Trabaudo then rocketed a shot from near the top of the circle for her first goal. She followed that with a lunging effort through a crowd on a reverse-shot just two minutes later for the game’s final goal.
Her second goal even surprised Trabuado considering the degree of difficulty.
“I wanted to cross it because I knew our other forwards would be there to tip it in,” Trabaudo said. “I guess God was on my side and he pushed it in for me. I don’t want to say it was luck but it hit right where it needed to hit to go in.”
Polytech out-shot Ursuline 12-2 (7-0 for shots on goal) and also held a 15-2 edge in penalty corners.
The Panthers just needed Dellert’s first goal to spark their offense.
“That normally happens for us,” Polytech coach Lynn Richardson said. “Once we score, we’re able to score more.”
Richardson also said the fact that the Panthers did not have school on Wednesday, thanks to the Veterans’ Day holiday, may have contributed to the slow start in the first half.
“We were out of our routine a little bit,” she said.
“I think we were a little tight and a little nervous,” Richardson added. “These are kids that have high expectations for themselves. Once that first goal went in then they kind of played a different type of hockey in that second half.”