Hillers cap dominant season with another title

Four straight shutouts lead to third straight championship

GLASGOW -- Tower Hill School senior Anna Teruya said the goals for her field hockey team are like stepping stones.

"We just set our goals," Teruya said, "and we try to accomplish them. We always talk about our stepping stones."

Teruya said the first step is simply to play well. Next in line are things like conference titles and making the state tournament.

The rest of the stepping stones you can probably figure out, and Tower Hill reached them all and then some Saturday with a 3-0 win over Brandywine in the championship of Delaware High School Field Hockey Tournament at Caravel Academy's Bob Peoples Stadium.

Caitlin Van Sickle, Lauren Ianni and Mary Hobbs scored as the Hillers won their third straight and 17th overall state title and wrapped up a 20-0 season, something Tower Hill last accomplished in 2003.

"We've come a long way since the beginning of preseason," Van Sickle said. "We knew we were going to have a strong team, and this was our ultimate goal -- 20-0 is unbelievable. I honestly didn't think we could do that."

Tower Hill did not allow a goal in the state tournament, outscoring Red Lion Christian, Mount Pleasant, Concord and Brandywine 14-0. The last goal Tower Hill allowed came early in the second half of its regular-season finale against Wilmington Friends, a 4-1 win. The Hillers closed the season with 265 minutes, 10 seconds of shutout play.

The Tower Hill defense consisted of Teruya, Colleen Egan, Alex Richmond and goalkeeper Alexis Aurigemma, with opposing penalty corners defended by Teruya, Richmond, Van Sickle and Emily Schuckert.

"During the season, we were allowing goals. I guess they just decided, 'No more,'" said Tower Hill coach Robin Adair, who won her ninth title in 14 years. "We played a lot of attack this tournament. We shot a lot and kept it down in our offensive end a lot. When the other teams pressured, the defense came up big."

Tower Hill earned all seven of its penalty corners in the first half, but was blanked by third seed Brandywine (15-3-2) behind defender Megan Camper and goalkeeper Julie Dougherty, who had seven of her nine saves in the first half.

Among Dougherty's stellar early stops was one against Ianni's hard one-timer from just inside the circle with 13:23 left in the first half, and a pair of short-range shots by Katie Applegate, fresh into the game, at 11:23.

Tower Hill got on the board 2:23 into the second half when Van Sickle scored off a rebound.

"It was key for us to score early in the second half," Van Sickle said. "We had so many opportunities in the first half. We just needed to get going. [Dougherty] had every answer to our shots; give her a lot of credit because she had a really nice first half. We just came out in the second half and we just knew we had to score."

Dougherty said that facing Tower Hill, whether it's in any game or the state final, "we know that we have to come out and just give it our all, and people don't expect us to win. We know that we can, and just give it everything that we've got."

Brandywine answered Van Sickle's goal by earning its first two penalty corners of the game, the second coming with 22:51 left. Tower Hill cleared both, and Ianni made it 2-0 with 21:26 left. The Hillers were pressuring and about to be awarded a corner when Ianni sent the ball into the cage. Hobbs scored with 2:49 left.

"Of all the games we had," Ianni said, "this was one of the toughest. [Brandywine was] cutting to the ball, they had speed and their goalie did very well."

Brandywine, defeated 2-1 by Sussex Tech in the semifinals, moved into the final after Sussex Tech had to forfeit its quarterfinal and semifinal wins for using an ineligible player.

"I'm not going to lie," Dougherty said of the Bulldogs' second life in the tournament. "We got kind of lucky that we got here, but we feel like we deserved to be here and it doesn't really feel like we just lost."

Tower Hill 3, Brandywine 0

Brandywine 0 0 - 0

Tower Hill 0 3 - 3

Second half-Van Sickle, TH, 27:27; Ianni, TH, 21:26; Hobbs, TH, 2:49.

Shots-B 4, TH 12. Penalty corners-B 5, TH 7. Saves-B (J.Dougherty 9), TH (Aurigemma 4).

Contact Buddy Hurlock at 324-2807 or

Reprinted with permission of The News Journal