Polytech’s rally too late against Tower Hill in field hockey

WOODSIDE — The inevitable rally happened with less than four minutes left into the game but time ran out on the Polytech High field hockey season.

The Panthers scored twice in the final 3:30, but also conceded a goal in that time span as they fell in the DIAA state tournament quarterfinals 3-2 to Tower Hill on Saturday afternoon.

The fifth-seeded Hillers advanced to play top seed Cape Henlopen on Wednesday at the University of Delaware’s Rullo Stadium. Polytech, the fourth seed, finished its season at 13-3.

Polytech trailed 2-0 until freshman Lacey Bayley tried to spark a comeback with a goal at the 3:30 mark of the second half.

The Hillers had a response waiting though. They immediately went down the other end and scored on Lexi Butler’s effort.

That proved to be a key insurance goal as Taylor Johnson netted Polytech’s second of the game with 34 seconds left. Tower Hill was able to keep possession however and the Panthers weren’t able to get a chance to equalize in the game’s final seconds.

“We had a slow start,” said Polytech coach Lynn Richardson. “But I couldn’t be more proud of how they played being down 2-0. The good news was they didn’t quit. We just kind of ran out of time.”

Polytech was trying to make its fourth consecutive trip to the state semifinals. The Hillers earned some revenge on Polytech, who had knocked them out of the tournament a year ago.

The Panthers, who have eight seniors on the team, took the loss hard. During their huddle after the game many players were wiping tears away from their eyes.

But by the end of a long Richardson speech, the team was laughing and talking about making new memories in the spring. Many of the field hockey players also play for Polytech’s girls’ lacrosse team — the reigning state runner up.

Richardson, who also coaches the girls’ lacrosse team, hopes the Panthers can use the defeat for motivation in the spring.

“They’re a hard-working, tight group of girls,” Richardson said. “I think this will carry on to the spring a little bit.”

Tower Hill took the first half lead on Isabelle Pilson’s goal. Polytech goalie Lauren Lee had made two kick saves to keep the ball out in a matter of seconds but the ball wasn’t able to be cleared and Pilson was able to capitalize on the third rebound.

The Hillers were able to double their advantage on a Kiva Walsh goal three minutes into the second half.

Polytech ramped up the offensive intensity but were unable to solve Tower Hill goalie Ellie Wakefield.

Wakefield denied every Polytech scoring chance until Bayley’s goal, and there were a lot of scoring opportunities as Wakefield made saves with just about every part of her body and the Panthers had a shot deflect off the post in the second half.

Tower Hill, who has 18 state championships in field hockey, is trying to make its first title game since the 2010 season.

“You can’t be cautious if you want to win games and we had that slow start,” Richardson said. “Tower Hill played a great game. They held up our breakaways and things like that. You’ve got to earn it and Tower Hill stopped us.

“The tradition here is long-standing and we’re going to try to keep that up. But obviously Tower Hill has been around a lot longer than we have and it’s always neat to see them be successful. Hats off to them.”

 

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