In each of the past six years, the Mid-Atlantic Prep League’s field hockey championship has been decided in The Hill vs. Lawrenceville game. It was only fitting that the meeting between the teams on Saturday, November 3 extended the streak to seven consecutive years.
Defending champion Lawrenceville dictated the tempo in the game’s opening minutes, but Hill weathered the early storm and scored the always important first goal with 11 minutes remaining in the first half. Utilizing a strong defensive effort and a timely attack, Hill added an insurance goal with 12 minutes remaining. When the clock hit zero, The Hill’s raucous student section stormed the field to celebrate the 2018 league title with the field hockey team, Hill’s second championship in the past three seasons and ninth in program history.
“It’s so satisfying,” said co-captain Tatumn Eccleston ’19 in an interview with Austin Hertzog of the Pottstown Mercury
. “We work really hard and play a super-hard schedule against top-20 teams in the country. This win is what we worked for all year so it’s so exciting.”
Hill entered the game having already clinched at least a share of the MAPL championship as the only team with a perfect league record through four contests. A complicated scenario that would result in a three-way tie between Hill, Blair, and Lawrenceville loomed if Hill were to lose. The only acceptable result in the mind of each Hill player was a victory and the outright league title.
There have been few lopsided contests between Hill and Lawrenceville, and it was clear in the opening minutes that Saturday’s game would be another tightly contested battle. In games between two teams that are evenly matched in the run of play, set pieces often end up being the difference between winning and losing. In field hockey, such plays come from penalty corners.
Nineteen minutes into the first half, Hill received its first corner of the evening. Within a matter of seconds, the ball was in the back of the Lawrenceville cage after co-captain Taylor Duffany ’19 deflected a Logan Clouser ’21 shot past the Big Red’s goalkeeper. The scoring sequence began when Alex Conway ’20 inserted the ball to Josaphine Palde ’21 at the top of the arc. Palde passed to Clouser, whose initial shot from 12 yards out was blocked. Clouser collected the loose ball and took two strides toward goal before taking a shot toward the back post, where Duffany was perfectly positioned for the tap-in goal.
“I’ve been having a dry spell scoring a little so I honestly wasn’t expecting a goal,” Duffany told Hertzog. “That was all Logan, I just finished it off for her.”
Much of the next 30 minutes of game action occurred between the 25 yard lines, as both teams played a stifling defense resulting in a midfield battle. With 12 minutes left, Clouser, one of the Philadelphia-area leaders in scoring throughout the season, crafted the insurance goal Hill had been looking for.
As Lawrenceville attempted to dribble through the midfield, co-captain Isabella Palde ’19 forced a turnover. Her sister collected the loose ball and, after a foot infraction on Lawrenceville stopped play, she quickly resumed play and dribbled into the middle third of the field. J. Palde passed to an open Clouser, who took the ball and, using a dynamic combination of speed and stick handling skills, dribbled past the Lawrenceville defense to the right of the cage. In what seemed to be déjà vu, Clouser took a shot toward the back post to an open teammate. This time, it was Conway who was perfectly positioned to score a tap-in goal, giving Hill the 2-0 lead with 12:16 remaining.
With a comfortable two-goal lead in hand, Hill turned its attention to the defensive half of the field. Hill’s stalwart defense, backed by goalkeeper Hayley Gable ’22, contained Lawrenceville’s attack to seal the victory, registering the team’s ninth shutout of the season.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the team swarmed Gable and shortly after a mob of jubilant students rushed the field to join the team in celebration.
With the MAPL championship in hand, the team will turn its attention to the PAISAA Championship. Hill visits top-seed Germantown Academy on Wednesday, November 7 for the PAISAA semifinal.