Athletics

Rulers of the Rug

KEVIN TRESOLINI
Brace yourselves. The Wilmington private school soon will undergo a renovation of its athletic facilities that will include putting artificial turf on its home hockey field.

REPRINTED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE NEWS JOURNAL

NEWARK -- Put a field hockey stick in their hands, which they do at Tower Hill when girls are in elementary school, and there's nobody better than the Hillers. They've worked at it.

Saturday night's state championship, secured with a no-doubt-about-it 2-0 win over William Penn, was Tower Hill's 16th in the Delaware High School Field Hockey Tournament's 34-year history.

Not a bad batting average, 16-for-34. Twelve of those -- along with three overtime losses in the final -- have come in the past 17 years, which sounds like a dynasty.

Remember, Tower Hill didn't win the Independent Conference title this year. Wilmington Friends did. But plunk the Hillers down on the artificial turf at Rullo Stadium, and it's like making shark's teeth sharper, Einstein smarter or Picasso more artistic.

Saturday's victory, which followed Wednesday's semifinal win over Friends, made Tower Hill 14-0 at Rullo in the nine years the state semifinals and finals have been played there.

In two of those seasons, Tower Hill lost in quarterfinal games on an archaic, less reliable and slower surface -- commonly known as grass -- that is less to their liking and never got to Rullo.

The Hillers have never even lost a regular-season game at the University of Delaware facility.

"Just the atmosphere, under the lights, at night -- we get pumped up," junior Caitlin Van Sickle said of playing at Rullo. "The turf is so fun.

"We can use our stick skills and our speed. There's so much space everywhere."

These Hillers are quite adept on the natural stuff, too. And grass stains certainly are much more attractive on the typical athlete than rug burns.

But on turf, where they aren't subject to the whims of nature (rain) and topography (ruts), their skills become even more stellar, which is why the rest of the state better get used to Tower Hill continuing to win field hockey championships.

Brace yourselves.

The Wilmington private school soon will undergo a renovation of its athletic facilities that will include putting artificial turf on its home hockey field.

This actually will be good for everybody, or at least the schools that play road games against Tower Hill. But it'll be best for the teams with the best stick skills. And who might that be?

"It's going to give us a little advantage," said Lindsay Griffith, a junior who can't wait. "I think our skills will really improve."

Looks like the Hillers will be around for a while.

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