Hillers settle down and do what they do

Top seed holds off Green Knights to win return trip to state final

BEAR -- After struggling for the first five minutes of the game in which they allowed two shots, including one that bounced off the crossbar, and four penalty corners, Tower Hill coach Robin Adair called a timeout to calm the Hillers down.

The top-seeded Hillers did just that and dominated the rest of the half en route winning 3-1 over Mount Pleasant in the semifinals of the Delaware High School Field Hockey State Tournament Wednesday night at Caravel Academy.

"I told them that we needed to settle down. We were playing kind of frazzled. That's not our style," Adair said. "We needed to calm down and play our style of hockey. Once we settled down, it was a much better game for us."

After the timeout, the Hillers (17-1) controlled possession and pushed the ball to Mount Pleasant's side of the field, and after a barrage of shots, the Hillers got on the board about 16 minutes into the game when Lexi Saunders scored through traffic to make it 1-0.

"We were focusing on getting the ball deep, and once we got the ball deep, we just shot it right away," Saunders said. "Scoring first was critical for our team."

The Hillers' continued to pressure the fourth-seeded Green Knights (15-2-1), and four minutes later, Kali DiGate gave Tower Hill a two-goal lead.

The Green Knights settled down in the second half, eventually cutting the Tower Hill lead to 2-1 when Danielle Gilley scored with 17:25 remaining.

Adair called timeout again to calm down the Hillers, and four minutes later, Saunders scored her second goal of the game to put Tower Hill ahead by two with less than 15 minutes left.

"We knew we needed to score right away because the momentum was towards them, and we needed to take it back," Saunders said. "A 2-1 game is different than 3-1 game as well."

The Hiller defense came up big, limiting the Green Knights to only one shot after the first five minutes, and Lucy Nutting said it was a total team effort to stop Mount Pleasant's attack.

"Our forward line and midfield were awesome tonight. We were really aggressive," Nutting said. "Mount Pleasant is a great team, and they put up a great fight. We just stayed strong and worked well together tonight."

The loss ends the best season for Mount Pleasant field hockey since 1977, when the Green Knights also reached the semifinals, and coach Peter Meisel said he is proud of his squad.

"Mount Pleasant was able to accomplish something that the program hasn't been able to accomplish in a long time; to get to the semifinals," Meisel said. "[A] 15-1-1 [record] is something no one saw coming, but the girls believe they could."

Tower Hill 3, Mount Pleasant 1

Mount Pleasant 0 1-1

Tower Hill 2 1-3

First half-Saunders, TH, 14:08; DiGate, TH, 10:02.

Second half-Gilley (Oidtman), MP, 17:25; Saunders (Applegate), TH, 13:35.

Shots-MP 3, TH 17. Penalty corners-MP 5, TH 22. Saves-MP 14 (Hirzel), TH 2 (Luft).

By KEVIN PHILLIPS • Special to The News Journal • November 19, 2009
Reprinted with permission of The News Journal