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MIAA DIV. 1 FIELD HOCKEY FINAL

Somerset Berkley’s unbeaten run begins at the back

Somerset Berkley's, from left, Johanna Snyder, Alex Millar, and Kayleigh McDonald swarmed Westwood's Abigail Crowley earlier this month during the South sectional tournament. That shutdown defense is one reason the Raiders will play for the Division 1 state title on Saturday.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

At first glance, the biggest strength of the Somerset Berkley field hockey team is its offense, with 193 goals over 23 games this season. But defensively, the Raiders have been just as strong.

Somerset Berkley has allowed just five goals, and never multiple in a game entering Saturday’s Division 1 state final against Longmeadow at WPI. The Raiders aren’t just defending well in open play, but through the midfield transition game and on corners as well.

The reason for that success? Coach Jen Crook credits it to a strong cohesiveness on the back end.

“They just work well together,” said Crook. “They cover each other’s backs and we’re just lucky. We’re trying to move as a unit.”

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Somerset Berkley plays a back four, using Kayleigh McDonald, Alex Millar, Janey Silvia, and Kaleigh Visbaras as their key contributors, along with a standout job from goaltender Madison Ferrara on the rare occasion she is tested.

Millar has been the team’s most steady presence, working well as a flyer on corners and helping set up a transition attack.

“As a defense, we hold ourselves to the highest standards,” said Millar. “We just work really hard and focus on the little things. We try to execute those in the game so it works to perfection.

“Hopefully it works on Saturday.”

In Thursday night’s 4-1 win over Andover, the Warriors’ lone chances came off corners. Creating offense from open play was challenging against the Raiders’ speed.

“Playing a mixed-gender team, their speed, size, and strength creates a big problem,” said Andover coach Maureen Noone. “They have a flyer [on corners], and he’s quicker than any flyer we’ve had all year and we didn’t get any shots we wanted to get.”


Dan can be reached at dan.shulman@globe.com; follow him on Twitter @DanielRShulman.