Athletics

Van Sickle leads Hillers to win

It's not a stretch to call Caitlin Van Sickle a complete field hockey player. Van Sickle certainly showed that Wednesday afternoon when top-ranked Tower Hill defeated William Penn 7-0 in a nonconference game at Richardson Field.

Tower Hill (8-0) didn't win behind Van Sickle alone. Lauren Ianni had two goals as six different Hillers scored, and Alexis Aurigemma had nine saves in a rematch of last year's state final won by the Hillers. Wednesday's loss dropped William Penn to 8-2.

But here are some of the things Van Sickle did, some obvious and some subtle, that helped the Hillers' win.

Tower Hill led 2-0 with less than 10 minutes left in the first half, when William Penn had the ball in Tower Hill territory, looking to lift itself back into the game. Van Sickle disrupted the attack and passed off to Ianni, who then sprinted off by herself with the ball toward the William Penn goal.

Ianni drew out the William Penn goalkeeper and got the ball around her for a 3-0 lead with 9:27 left before halftime. After the game, Van Sickle sheepishly said, "I just made the pass," about her role on the play. But the breakaway goal probably doesn't happen without Van Sickle's heads-up pass more than 70 yards from the cage.

Shortly after the restart, William Penn threatened again, earning a penalty corner with 5:18 left before halftime. The corner went nowhere. Van Sickle sent the Colonials' first shot on the corner right back out of the circle.

Then it was time for Van Sickle, the state's player of the year last season, to play a more direct role in the Tower Hill offense.

Emily Schuckert started the Hillers' final corner of the half by sending the ball right to Van Sickle near the top of the circle. Before you could blink, the crack of the ball smacking the back of the cage could be heard.

Goal, Van Sickle.

"She is a great, all-around player," Tower Hill coach Robin Adair said about Van Sickle. "She's strong. She's fit. She's fast. She's smart. She reads the field well. She has good skills. She is a complete player."

Meghan Lyons, Mary Hobbs, Lexi Saunders and Lindsay Griffith also scored for Tower Hill. Lucy Nutting had two assists.

Van Sickle has six goals and six assists this season. In the spring, Van Sickle made a verbal commitment to accept a scholarship from the University of North Carolina, which has won four NCAA Division I championships.

Several Delaware field hockey players have played for the Tar Heels, including Concord High graduate Ashley Judge for four years through the 2006 season. St. Mark's High graduate Katelyn Falgowski is a freshman on this year's UNC team.

"Last year, I really started to think that I wanted to play field hockey in college," Van Sickle said. "At first, I didn't really think that UNC was an opportunity for me. But after I really assessed myself, I thought that I could play there."

"She's wanted to go to UNC for a long time," Adair said. "When they were interested, she was just psyched."

by Buddy Hurlock -- 324-2807 or bhurlock@delawareonline.com.
Photos by Jennifer Corbett
Reprinted with permission of The News Journal

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