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MIAA D2 FIELD HOCKEY SEMIFINALS

Caitlin O’Connell’s goal propels Dover-Sherborn to D2 title berth

BRAINTREE — For much of the night, Lynnfield and Dover-Sherborn played a balanced contest that looked destined for overtime at Braintree High School.

Tied 1-1 with less than 10 minutes to play, South champion Dover-Sherborn capitalized when junior Caitlin O’Connell lifted a rebound for the lead. The Raiders’ 2-1 victory secured a berth in the Division 2 State Championship on Saturday against Central champion Hopedale at 11 a.m. at WPI in Worcester.

“They’ve worked hard for it,” said Dover-Sherborn coach Dara Johnson, whose team improved to 20-1-2. “Sometimes it’s not easy to comeback but they didn’t give up, kept plugging away, and it worked for us this time.”

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The Raiders’ mood wasn’t celebratory for much of the night. Lynnfield (16-5), who earned a shocking victory over Watertown in the North semifinals, came out fast and scored a little more than nine minutes into the contest.

Lily Rothwell, standing just inside the shooting circle, turned to sweep a forward pass from Carolyn Garofoli and ended up rolling the ball into the net. While panic began to set in, the Raiders adjusted well at halftime.

“We got caught looking at them moving upfield,” said Johnson. “We made sure on their self-starts we sat back 10 yards so we could try to knock down their hits and turn it around.”

The adjustments paid off for Dover-Sherborn, who generated its first real chance just minutes into the second half when Izabella Friedel sprinted 70 yards in possession before a sliding save by Lynnfield junior Ava O’Brien denied the Raiders’ sophomore of an equalizer.

Fittingly, it was D-S senior captain Abby Gramer who provided the equalizer with 16 minutes remaining in regulation, potting a rebound from teammate Lily Duplessie.

“If we’re working hard to get the ball up in our circle, we’ve got to make something happen with it,” said Johnson. “It was up to the forwards to finish these plays.”

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n Shulman can be reached at dan.shulman@globe.com.