Field hockey repeats as state champions with OT win

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Field hockey repeats as state champions with OT win

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On Nov. 2, the girls field hockey team closed out the season strong with a 4-2 state championship win over Lake Forest, sealing the win with overtime goals from senior Kate McLaughlin and senior Grace Harris.

The 2-2 score at the end of the game prompted an overtime, in which the game continued with seven players from each team, instead of the standard eleven, for up to two 10 minute periods.

Head coach Stephanie Nykaza felt that overtime was the most exciting part of the game.

“It went right down to the end that we ended up in a tie so it was definitely a nail-biter of a game,” said Nykaza. “We went into overtime and we scored two goals; [it’s] pretty amazing that we did that.”

Junior Hillary Cox agreed and noted the euphoric feeling that overwhelmed the team when the second overtime goal was scored by Harris.

“After the second overtime goal, all the players ran and hugged each other because we knew at this point that we were gonna win,” she said.

Senior Amy Griffin added that she thought the first goal of the game played a significant role in how the rest of the game would pan out.

“[The first goal] really set the tone and we actually got our second goal soon after,” said Griffin.

Cox said practicing their 7v7 play during practices aided them in being able to seal the win in the end.

“We practiced a lot of 7v7 play we do for overtime, which is really tiring to do at the end of practice, but it really paid off during the state game,” said Cox.

Harris thought that another aspect that helped contribute to their victory was their aggressiveness.

“In this game, we were very intense by going to the ball right away without hesitation,” said Harris. “In past games we had difficulty with stepping up right away.”

Senior Evie Lake added that their increased unity as a team helped put them in the right mindset to win the game.

“[We worked] as a team to play team offense and defense. We didn’t play as individually as we have in past games,” Lake said. “I also think that we came together even more as a team because we knew what we needed to do to win the game.”

The girls finished the season with a state championship and a record of 29-2-1. Nykaza emphasized how the team’s effort was critical in fostering such a rewarding season.

“With a pretty rigorous schedule, we ended up number one seat going into the [state] tournament and we ended up first place. That’s a pretty difficult thing to do; for twenty-two players to keep it together since August,” said Nykaza. “They got tired, but they stuck with it.”

Griffin also noted how the team’s ability to push through those rough spots of exhaustion set them up for success later on in the season.

“There is always a point in the season where people start to feel burnt out and there are cracks in the team, but I think how you handle that is more important,” she said. “Luckily, our team rebounded very well and were able to reconnect and gear up for the postseason.”

Reflecting back on the season, Lake felt unity they developed over the season was a notable achievement.

“I think a point of growth was being able to support each other, no matter if you were on the bench,” said Lake.

Cox agreed that the strong chemistry developed over the course of the season played a crucial role in the team’s success.

“The team has gotten so close since the beginning, and I think that is just as important as the skills we have improved on,” said Cox.

With a strong record and even stronger finish at state, the girls could have hardly achieved a much better season.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the season or a better team to do it with,” Griffin said.

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