By: Thomas Nemec
Photos & Videos by Thomas Nemec & Courtney Murphy
CONSHOHOCKEN, PA – Friday, Sept. 20 marked the inaugural Max Field Hockey National High School Invitational. It was a weekend full of high class competition, as 36 of the top teams in the country ranging from 12 states came to battle it out at the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken.
Friday afternoon kicked off with a high caliber top 25 ranked match up. At 5 p.m. No. 11 ranked New Trier (Winnetka, IL,) defeated No. 18 ranked Sacred Heart (Louisville, KY) 4-1.
FEATURED GAME: No. 2 Eastern Regional 3 vs. No. 4 Frank W. Cox 0
The feature match up at 5 p.m. was between No. 2 Eastern Regional High School (Voorhees, NJ) and No. 4 Ranked Frank W. Cox High School (Virginia Beach, VA). Eastern Regional showed why they were ranked No. 1 in the country before the season started, and came out firing on all cylinders.
The Vikings dominated with speed and aggression, gaining a 2-0 lead by half time with goals from Ryleigh Heck, a sophomore forward committed to North Carolina, and senior Elise Pettisani, a senior defenseman committed to Rutgers. Eastern regional had the edge, as the Vikings have 11 experienced players committed to D-1 field hockey programs compared to the three players committed D-1 on Frank W. Cox.
Eastern Regional ended up winning the game 3-0 with a goal off of a penalty corner from Heck for her second score of the match.
“We came out with positive energy,” said Heck. “After the loss to Oak Knoll (No. 1 ranking in NJ) we wanted to come out positive and stay strong.”
The Vikings did just that, as they kept the ball in the offensive zone nearly the whole game, keeping the Falcons on their heels.
“I think we were taken away by how aggressive they (Eastern Regional) came out in the first half, but we adjusted and played much better in the second half,” said Frank W. Cox senior captain Sydney Hillier.
Falcon’s senior midfielder Zoe Campisi also commended Eastern Regional and noted that the tough competition on the turf will help to prepare her team for a hopeful back-to-back state championship.
“We are not used to playing teams like this on a surface like this (referring to the turf field), but we do play our state title game on this surface so it is good to practice,” said Campisi.
FEATURED GAME: No. 13 Greenwich Academy 2 vs. No. 3 Lower Dauphin 2. OT
Friday evening’s featured game was between No. 13 ranked Greenwich Academy(Greenwich, CT) and No. 3 ranked Lower Dauphin(Hummelstown, PA). This game was held on the fast paced synthetic turf field that Villanova University’s field hockey team plays on and, in this particular match up, there were 19 D-1 commits battling it out on the field.
Greenwich came out fast, scoring the first two goals. However, Lower Dauphin’s veteran coach Linda Kreiser, who had just earned her 800thvictory on Sept. 16 after 42 seasons, was not going to give up that easily.
The Falcons responded with goals from seniors Erin Shifflet and Emma O’Neill, both assisted by Alexa Shaffer. The teams remained tied 2-2 going into half time.
The second half was tightly contested with both teams getting scoring chances on each other. Then after no scoring in the second half, the game went into a 7-on-7, 15-minute overtime. Overtime consisted of a lot of fast breaks and scoring opportunities, but both teams held their ground in their defensive zones and the game ended in a tie.
The game was played evenly with high intensity. After the game, both teams rallied together and posed for a photo out of mutual respect.
“It was a really good game for us,” said Lower Dauphin senior, Sienna Pegram. “We don’t have as much competition (on this level) where we play.”
No matter the outcomes of the opening day, players were not disappointed after a loss. Each team emphasized the mission of this tournament, which was to create big match ups that would not usually happen in order to further enhance the participating schools' progression as a field hockey programs.
Other Noteworthy Friday Night Game Scores:
Langley (VA) 0, Perkiomen Valley (PA) 0 Tie OT
No. 24 Garrison Forest (MD) 3, Germantown Academy (PA) 1
Archbishop Spalding (MD) 4, Rancocas Valley (NJ) 0
McDonogh School (MD) 2, Hunterdon Central (NJ) 0
Saturday Video Highlights Include: New Trier vs. Eastern Regional, Hershey vs. Villa Maria, Sacred Heart vs. Notre Dame (MD), Assumption vs. Garrison, Lakeland vs. Biddeford, Blair vs. McDonogh, DuPont vs. Hunterdon, Arundel vs. Greene and Greenwich vs. Dexter! All morning, afternoon and evening game results are also posted!
The first featured game of the morning on Saturday, Sept. 21 was between Philadelphia’s own Germantown Academy and Dexter High School, traveling all the way from Michigan.
FEATURED GAME: Dexter 2 vs. Germantown Academy 1 - OT.
Germantown Academy came out early with a goal from senior midfielder Catherine McFadden. Later in the game, Dexter tied it up with eight minutes remaining, which sent the game into a 7-on-7 overtime.
In overtime, Dexter kept the momentum going and scored with a goal from senior Claire Vaughn, a defensive midfielder committed to Cornell University.
“(In overtime) We knew we had more time, so our strategy was to be more patient on the ball because it’s less people in a bigger space. But our main strategy was to let the ball do the work and move around them (GA),” said Vaughn.
Germantown Academy may not have gotten their desired result, but McFadden explained that the Patriot’s learned a lot from playing out-of-state opponents.
“It is a good opportunity to see how different out of state teams play and learning how to adjust and combat the different play styles,” said McFadden. “I think we had a moment where our intensity fell and we just have to keep our energy up (throughout the whole game).”
At 1 p.m. the heat rose to around 90 degrees on the turf fields and water jugs were being emptied and refilled faster than you could say, “Max Field Hockey Invitational.”
Despite the heat, the best field hockey teams in the country dug deep, regained their stamina and played on. One team that was accustomed to the hot temperature was St. John’s High School from Texas who was playing Greenwich Academy. The game, combined with the heat, was so intense that it caused one of the players on Greenwich to faint. Thankfully the athlete was okay, and Greenwich pulled away with the 2-0 victory.
At the same time, No. 17 Episcopal Academy (Newtown, PA) played Cape Henry from Virginia. The game was fairly even throughout the match up, until sophomore forward/midfielder for Episcopal Academy Mia Garber found the back of the net in the second half which ended up being the only goal in the entire contest.
“I think we just wanted it more today,” said Garber. “It was a complete effort game.”
Ohio State University commit and senior captain for Cape Henry, Ali Gordon, looked on the bright side of the loss.
“We get the chance to play all these girls who play club (play for a club field hockey team in the offseason.) and it’s harder for us because we don’t all play club, but we are all athletes and it’s good to see this really good competition,” said Gordon.
Garber also noted that although her team was tired, they were ready to give their best effort.
“Everyone was sore after the game yesterday against (Assumption High School, KY) another great team,” said Garber. “We ran hard, but we stayed hydrated. We want to win, we came here to win, and we wanted to show everyone what we were capable of.”
FEATURED GAME: No. 1 Oak Knoll 5 vs. No. 9 Hershey 3
In the 3 p.m. match up between No. 1 Oak Knoll and No. 9 Hershey, Oak Knoll asserted their dominance early with a goal in the first five minutes from senior captain Bridget Murphy, a Princeton University commit. However, Hershey was not going to give up as junior forward Katana Nelson tied the game up with five minutes left in the half. Three minutes later, senior captain and Columbia University commit, Anabelle Brodeur, gave Oak Knoll the lead going into halftime assisted by Murphy (yes, that is hall of fame NHL goalie Martin Brodeur’s daughter).
After almost 20 minutes in the second half went by scoreless, junior midfielder Kylie Wall tied up the game for Hershey with goal off of a penalty corner. This is where the offensive intensity really picked up, as Murphy scored her second goal two minutes later. However, the girls on Hershey would not quit no matter how much time was left on the clock. Only a minute after Oak Knoll regained the lead, junior defenseman Alexandra King tied up the game again with 7:58 left in the contest. Despite the valiant effort from Hershey, Oak Knoll took off and quickly capitalized scoring two goals to secure the game with a 5-3 victory.
“We did not play our best in the first half, and start of the second, so we were really like, ‘Okay we need to turn it on,’ and I think their (Hershey’s) goals at the end of the game triggered that,” said Oak Knoll senior captain and Harvard University commit, Avery Donahue
FEATURED GAME: No. 11 New Trier 3 vs. No. 21 Academy of Notre Dame 2
As the sun set on the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, PA, the intensity rose. No. 11 New Trier High School from Illinois played the hometown team, No. 21 Academy of Notre Dame under the lights on the Villanova University’s home field.
Notre Dame emerged victorious in the end, but during the game there was no telling who was going to come out on top. New Trier came out aggressive, going up 2-1 in the first half with some help from their senior captain at the midfielder position, Amelia Griffin. Griffin is committed to Middlebury College and earned a spot on the ‘2019 MAX Field Hockey High School National Invitational’ All-Tournament second team.
The Academy of Notre Dame went into halftime down 2-1, but things could have been much worse had it not been for some key saves from goalie Paige Kieft, a University of Maryland commit. The Irish also had help on the offensive side from senior UNC commit Mia Leonhardt, who received the honors of All-Tournament first team.
“I think we created a lot of opportunities for ourselves, it’s just that final step of supporting the ball after the pass and finishing our opportunities,” said Notre Dame senior Villanova commit, Meghan Mitchell.
The game ended up forcing a 7-on-7 overtime, which enabled Notre Dame and New Trier to show off their offensive skills and allowed their coaches to test out different lineups and strategies. Stephanie Nykaza, who in her 30th year at the helm of New Trier, seemed to know exactly who to put out on the field, and got rewarded with a goal from junior midfielder/defenseman Hillary Cox.
“I think it was a lot of intensity from everyone both off the bench and off the field,” said New Trier senior, Katie McLaughlin, who is committed to the University of Michigan. “We had a great save from our goalie and then we worked it all the way up as a team.”
FEATURED GAME: No. 13 Greenwich Academy 2 vs. No. 24 Garrison Forest 1
Sunday’s featured game between No. 13 ranked Greenwich Academy (CT) and No. 24 ranked Garrison Forest (MD) started out evenly contested, with both teams pressuring each other and forcing turnovers. The first half ended without the ball finding the back of the net, and neither team had full control of the game.
Senior forward and Fairfield University commit Riley Patro, scored a timely goal to open the second half to give the Garrison Forest Grizzlies the momentum. But, Greenwich responded with a goal from senior captain and Columbia University commit Maya Walker assisted by junior captain Grace Schulze.
The two teams battled it out until the end of the game, with some huge saves from both goalies, but in particular a save from the goal post. With 30 seconds left, Garrison was rewarded a penalty shot which gave Patro a golden opportunity to win the game. However, she missed her mark by inches and hit the post, sending the game into a 7-on-7 overtime.
Greenwich Academy put their speed on display creating several fast breaks with the open field that 7-on-7 overtime provides. Freshman goalie for Garrison Forest, Alyssa Klebasko, put her goaltending skills on display with multiple stops in overtime.
Unfortunately the speed of Schulze was too much for the Grizzlies. Schulze found a break in the defense and assisted the final goal, scored by senior defender and Cornell University commit Antonia Packard. While field hockey is a game of patience and dexterity, having an added dose of speed can make or break a game.
“I think that speed is a huge component because it allows you to get back and defend even if you mess up,” said Schulze.
See additional game footage and Sunday scores in above video!
Highlights include: Germantown Academy vs. Notre Dame (MD), Greene High School vs. Rancocas Valley and Oak Knoll vs. Villa Maria.
Visit MAX Field Hockey to stay up to date on everything from schedules and scores to National and regional team and player rankings.
For local weekly open play, camp and league information, check out The Proving Grounds.