The PhilaFH Game of the Week (2), selected by fans via social media polls, had a lot on the line for the two teams that reaped nearly 65% of the vote. New Hope-Solebury and Dock entered the game with two things at stake: protecting their unblemished records (NSH 4-0; Dock 3-0) and establishing their place in the Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL). Both teams are league powerhouses and each other’s greatest rivals. Dock entered as the 2-time reigning champion; the two shared the title in 2014; Dock in 2013; and NHS the year before in 2012.
But on Tuesday’s Game of the Week, it was all NHS. The team stormed the field and never let down, and proved their place at the top of the BAL, for now at least. The Lions topped Dock 8-0.
Leading the fury was center midfielder, senior Sarah Wilson. The versatile player was instrumental in blocking Dock from entering their offensive zone, deadly as the fly on defensive corners, and incredibly savvy in transition. Johnson moved the ball with expertise up the field and somehow seemed to catch up in front of the ball to propel the attack inside the circle, delivering four goals for the Lions. Wilson, whose passion lies in basketball and who plans to play in college, would be welcome on many collegiate field hockey programs with her scoring prowess; she stands at #2 among all Phila-area high school players, averaging 2.75 goals per game (as of 9/9).
“I love to score!” said Wilson. “I do, but I know, especially playing in the middle, that I either have to get it in or give someone else a really good opportunity to get it in.”
Docks’ attacking sensation, Kate Strickland (currently ranked #3 among Phila-area attackers with 2.33 gpg), was shut down by the Lions, who marked Stickland one-on-one throughout the game and double-teamed her as soon as she contacted the ball.
“It was the first night game and we’re so young and were riled up for the the game. I think we maybe let the game get to our heads and we need to work as a team a little better moving forward,” said Strickland. “I think everyone was working really hard and New Hope is just a really good team this year. I think we were just a little on edge.”
The game opened up with the ball stuck between the 25-yard lines for a good 8 minutes before New Hope found its fire. The Lions’ sophomore Makenzie Meyers notched the first goal at 18:36 followed by sophomore Annelise Dahlin’s goal at the 10:43 mark. It was evident early on that NHS was there to play, and play hard. The bench stood on their feet most of the game, cheering loudly, and their energy transferred to an already electrified team. After the game, players talked about the importance of the game.
“We lost last year 4-0 and then 2-0, so coming back winning 8-0 was crazy for us,” noted sophomore Sarah Hayden. We’ve never played this well against Dock. We were all really hyped up before the game, so coming out today and playing this well against our school rival was just amazing for us.”
Claudia Koeppen, a senior defensive back, was key in keeping Dock’s attack at bay. “We haven’t beaten Dock since my freshman year and that was in overtime, so this was really big for us. We’ve worked all season on supporting each other and communication is a huge thing. Knowing where each other is at all times really helps, and we did that well. Strong communications is a big goal for us.”
The second half began with a 2-0 lead for New Hope. The Lions set the tone moving forward, dominating the ball and exhibiting incredible speed, grit, and sharp passing more akin to a team at post-season. And, they definitely were not showing their youth. The NSH roster includes 4 seniors, no juniors, and the rest are sophomores and freshmen, many of whom are true impact players.
Dock, too, showed signs of strength, skill and communication despite their youth. Dock entered the season minus seven starters including four-time BAL Player of the Year, Jill Bolton who has already made a mark at Liberty University.
“New Hope came out fast. We tried to stop ‘em but they were quick, got shots on goal, and executed their passing game really well,” said Dock Coach Michelle Waldspurger. “We are young so we do have a lot of inexperience but Dock came out and we played hard, as well as we could play. But New Hope is a phenomenal team. I have all the respect for Gwen (NHS Coach). She’s done great with them and tonight was their night.”
Dock sophomore Macy Balmer, typically a striker, found herself at center-mid for the game adding strength to the Dock’s midfield and defensive lines.
“Their passing combinations – we’ve seen passing like this – but not so fast and we just need to work on cutting the passes off and getting there. They are fast and they were beating us to the ball, but we know what we need to do for the next game.”
Dock’s center back, senior captain Olivia Boyle added: “Like every other game, we can always play better. It was a little disappointing but we worked hard.”
New Hope fired off most of their 23 shots in the second half and found the back of Dock’s goal six times. Dock sophomore goalkeeper and first year starter, Sophea Zaskoda showed real aggression and recorded 15 saves.
New Hope’s Wilson hit the board four times in the second half (25:32, 24:45, 23:05 and 2:32), each time like a bolt of lightning. But she didn’t do it alone. The Lions are deep in talent and speed. Dahlin scored again (2g, 1a) as well as Hayden (2g), a formidable force. Freshman Kate Doughtery contributed to the offensive push with keen passes and 2 assists.
With the game behind them, Dock is recharged with a strong sense of what to improve on for their next match-up versus NHS, next month, as well as each game ahead.
If any team has a realistic new hope of capturing the BAL title, it’s New Hope-Solebury. But they’re taking it one day at a time.
“You’ve got to take every day, day by day and every game, game by game. That’s why you compete. Any team on any given day can beat you. That’s how I see it and that’s how I prepare my team,” said NHS Coach Gwen Smith. “Tonight was just a great team effort. They’ve been working really hard and been doing a really nice job working together — working on passing combinations, backing each other up, all of that. Dock is fantastic and we always look forward to this game. It was a good night for us.”
New Hope-Solebury 8, Dock 0
At Dock, 7:00 PM game under the lights
1st half – New Hope goal Makenzie Meyers (18:36), New Hope goal Annelise Dahlin (10:43)
2nd half – New Hope goal Sarah Wilson (25:32), New Hope goal Sarah Wilson (24:45) assist Annelise Dahlin, New Hope goal Sarah Wilson (23:05), New Hope goal Sarah Hayden (6:52) assist Kate Doughterty, New Hope goal Sarah Hayden (5:19) assist Kate Doughterty, New Hope goal Sarah Wilson (2:32)
New Hope Shots – 23
New Hope Corners – 8
New Hope Goalie – Elsie Jones – 1
Dock Shots – 1
Dock Corners – 4
Dock Goalie – Sophea Zaskoda – 15 saves
New Hope: 5-0 overall
Dock: 3-1 overall, 3-1 league
photo credit: Jack Kapp
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