The Sanford field hockey team hadn’t defeated Independent Conference rival Tower Hill in many years. On Tuesday afternoon, that all changed.
With a new coach stepping into the Warriors program this season and a strong response from the players, Sanford finally broke its losing streak to their rival by shutting down the Hillers with a 2-0 victory.
Anne Brooking, who had coached Wilmington Friends’ field hockey team for the last 25 years, became the third Sanford coach in four years this season.
“The kids are excited about the program,” Brooking said. “They’re working hard, and they’re starting to see the benefits of being more fundamentally sound.”
Four minutes into the game, Sanford’s Meera Gandhi scored the first goal for the Warriors.
“[McKenzie] Frederick slammed it up, and I just saw an opportunity and took it. It was awesome,” said Gandhi, who is playing her first season on varsity. “We knew what we had to do to win.”
Sanford held possession for the majority of the first half. Sanford outshot Tower Hill 9-3 during for the game, and held the Hillers to one shot in the first half.
“They are beginning to believe in themselves, and it shows in the way they attack the ball,” said Brooking, who cited her team’s mental toughness as a key in Tuesday’s victory.
Sanford maintained high energy early in the second half. Out of a corner, Frederick attempted a shot but Hillers’ keeper Ellie Wakefield blocked it for one of her seven saves.
Seconds later, Sanford’s Amira Hannon tried her luck, but her shot went wide left. The Sanford senior kept up the attack and with 17:22 left in the game, Hannon got an open look from Carter Ayars. Hannon pressured her way through Hillers defenders and hit the back of the cage for the final goal of the game.
“We’ve just changed our whole thought process,” said Hannon, who is excited with her team’s progress. “We’re a whole new Sanford field hockey team, and we know sky’s the limit with our new coach. She’s definitely pushed us to the next level, and we definitely knew we had to step our game up.”
Sanford improved to 6-1 with the win. The Warriors won just five games all last season. Tower Hill slipped to 3-2.
“We didn’t play well. We did not play together as a team,” said Hillers coach Robin Adair. “I thought we had a good practice [Monday], I thought they were ready, and obviously that was not the case.”