Katie Applegate and Mary Hobbs had goals, one early and one late, as top-seeded Tower Hill won 2-0 against Brandywine in the final of the Delaware High School Field Hockey Championship at Caravel Academy.
Tower Hill (18-2) won its last 10 games en route to its fourth straight state title and 18th overall. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations Record Book, those 18 titles tie a national record for most high school state championships won in field hockey. Severna Park (Md.) won its 18th title Nov. 8.
Brandywine (18-2) came in having won 16 straight games, including a 3-1 victory against Tower Hill on Oct. 14. That was one of the lows for Tower Hill this season, with another being a loss to conference rival Wilmington Friends prior to the Brandywine loss. But senior goalkeeper Alexis Aurigemma said the Hillers did their best to stay on track.
"I'm just so proud of our team to be able to continue [winning state championships]," she said. "We had to work through ups and downs, which just makes it even more special, winning again."
Applegate scored during a penalty corner 3:20 into the game. It was already the Hillers' fourth corner of the game, with the Brandywine defense tested early. Emily Schuckert sent the ball to Meghan Lyons at the top of the circle to start the corner and Lyons pushed the ball forward to Applegate, who scored.
From there, the middle portion of the game belonged to Brandywine. The
But Brandywine couldn't convert any of those scoring chances. Along with Aurigemma, the Hillers' defensive unit against corners consists of sophomores Zoe Blake and Taylor Van Sickle, junior Lucy Nutting and senior Chelsea Stuart, with sophomore Kali DiGate defending in place of Blake early in the second half.
The biggest defensive stop was not against one of Brandywine's corners, however. With less than five minutes left and the Hillers still only ahead by a goal, Brandywine charged into the circle and Stuart stopped a shot that got behind Aurigemma.
"It's just a reaction play," Stuart said. "My job is to put my stick in there and block what I can. I'm the backup and sometimes I get there."
Shortly thereafter, with 2:25 left in the game, Hobbs gave Tower Hill a two-goal lead. In Hobbs' four-year career, she had 10 goals and four assists in 16 state tournament games, scoring twice in the 2005 final when the Hillers beat St. Mark's 2-1. Hobbs also had a goal in last year's 3-0 championship win over Brandywine.
"We were still nervous," Hobbs said. "It was a little nerve-racking having a one-goal lead. One is never enough. We just had to keep pushing to seal the deal and our defense did an awesome job on all those corners, just getting them out of there. There were a couple close calls, but luckily, it went our way."
Brandywine finished with a 13-10 advantage in penalty corners. The Bulldogs played all of their state tournament games without four starters, suspended after the regular season for a violation of school policy. Other players faced disciplinary action but remained on the team.
"We just couldn't put it in," Brandywine senior Allison Whitcraft said. "We've been through a lot this season, and I'm happy we made it this far."
Said Brandywine coach Willy Miranda: "We won three tournament games with a lot of character and a lot of guts. ... [The absence of the suspended players] is not to take anything away from Tower Hill. That's not why we lost."
Contact Buddy Hurlock at email@example.com.
Reprinted with permission of The News Journal
FIELD HOCKEY - Past Champs
2008 Tower Hill
2007 Tower Hill
2006 Tower Hill
2005 Tower Hill
2004 Caesar Rodney
2003 Tower Hill
2002 Tower Hill
2001 Tower Hill
2000 Tower Hill
1999 Wilm. Christian
1998 Tower Hill
1997 Tower Hill
1995 Cape Henlopen
1994 William Penn
1993 Tower Hill
1992 Tower Hill
1991 Tower Hill
1990 Tower Hill
1988 William Penn
1986 Wilm. Friends
1985 Wilm. Friends
1983 Wilm. Friends
1982 Tower Hill
1981 Tower Hill
1980 Tower Hill
1979 Cape Henlopen
1976 Alexis I. du Pont
1975 Alexis I. du Pont
1973 Tower Hill
The Tower Hill field hockey team has won the most postseason tournaments in state history, when considering single-elimination state tournament play.
18 -- Tower Hill field hockey
13 -- Ursuline girls basketball
11 -- St. Mark's boys soccer
10 -- Newark football (Division I)
10 -- Ursuline volleyball
9 -- Hodgson wrestling (Division II)
8 -- Salesianum boys soccer
8 -- St. Mark's baseball
8 -- St. Mark's volleyball
8 -- William Penn football (Division I)
Notes: Wrestling's current state tournament format started in 1993. Salesianum plays tonight in the boys soccer championship.