Published: Oct 20, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Oct 20, 2012 11:28 AM
Chapel Hill did something last week that no other field hockey team has been able to do for at least four years; the Tigers forced East Chapel Hill into a penalty stroke shootout.
Undefeated East Chapel Hill managed to escape Chapel Hill’s Culton-Peerman Stadium with a 2-0 win on strokes Wednesday, not before the Tigers pushed the four-time defending state champion Wildcats as hard as any opponent in recent memory.
With Chapel Hill celebrating “Senior Night” on what was the players’ last home game of the season, a raucous crowd enthusiastically chanted and stomped their feet throughout regulation and two 10-minute overtimes that ended at 0-0. The fans poured out of the stands and lined the fence for the shoot-out, straining to get as close as they could to that end of field.
Sarah Towne and Fiona Nelson scored on their strokes to secure the win. Towne stroked hers left and high into the corner; Nelson clicked her try off the left post about shoulder height for the second score.
Just as dramatically, Wildcat goalkeeper Grace Haley blocked three Chapel Hill penalty strokes in the shootout, including one diving save to block a ball just inside the post. Chapel Hill’s other two tries went high or wide left.
“This is why we won -- defense,” Towne said, emphatically clapping Haley on her shoulders. “I think we were prepared to play our game, and I never thought we weren’t going to win.”
“They’re historically our big rival, so there’s always a big buildup for this, and I think adrenaline played a part in this game,” Nelson said. “Every win is good, but this was especially great.”
East Chapel Hill (15-0-1) had beaten Chapel Hill 4-1 at Wildcat Stadium barely a week before and still hasn’t lost to Chapel Hill in four years, but the Tigers (4-6-0) looked like a playoff team as they pressed to the end.
“Senor Night just added fuel to the fire and pumped them up that much more,” first-year CHHS coach Wendy Bennett said.
Chapel Hill dominated the second overtime, three times getting the ball in front of the East goal, but the Haley saved one shot and Wildcat defenders blocked two other attempts.
“We played strong and never gave up,” Haley said. “That’s what we need all season to win.”
The East Chapel Hill junior varsity won their match 1-0, getting the winning goal from Farrell Guest off an assist from Addie Agatucci. W.E. Warnock
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