In a classic battle between power and finesse, the Tower Hill field hockey team powered its way into the state championship game.
Coming in against a team that had allowed just two goals all season, the fourth-seeded Hillers doubled (17-1) that output with a relentless offensive attack, routing undefeated Padua 4-0 in Tuesday’s DIAA semifinal match at Rullo Field.
Both teams came into the contest perfect against Delaware teams. Tower Hill’s lone loss came against Pennsylvania-based Episcopal Academy. All of the Hillers’ goals came in the second half, as they snapped No. 1 Padua’s eight-game streak of shutout wins.
“This is so huge,” Hillers head coach Robin Adair said. “We had heard that they were undefeated and having such a great year, and sometimes that adds fire to the situation. Beating an unbeaten team is so special.”
Tower Hill will face No. 3 Delmar in the DIAA championship match on Friday at Rullo stadium. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Tower Hill pressured Panda goalkeeper Hailey Power all game, and she challenged the Hillers right back, frequently charging out of the box. Once the first shot fell, Padua (17-1) failed to stop the momentum. The victors dominated in shots on goal, 12-1.
“We like to attack,” Adair said. “My forwards and midfielders move so well that we just tend to move forward a lot. Our defense was clearing that ball so well, it was just starting the attack right away. It worked out nicely.”
The Hillers charged right out of the gate, getting a penalty corner in the first 30 seconds. They created several good looks early but came up empty. Tower Hill settled for a 0-0 tie at the break.
Both teams battled for possession early in the second half, but the Hillers finally ended nearly 40 minutes of frustration with a bizarre goal. Senior Louise Conaty raced after the ball as it rolled toward the right baseline. She slapped it to her left just before it went out of bounds, and the ball deflected off a Padua defender and into the goal.
“We knew they had a really good goalie, but our forwards are so awesome,” Conaty said. “We were just trying to get a lot of balls in the air. We just kept pounding and finally, things started working out for us. We have a lot of drive and there’s just no mercy. We keep going.”
The first goal opened the floodgates, as the Hillers scored three more times over the next 15 minutes. Junior forward Isabelle Pilson hit the back of the box on a feed from Laura Taschner for Tower Hill’s second goal, and then Natalie Hobbs and Taschner provided the two insurance goals.
The Hillers have outscored their opponents 11-0 this postseason, a dominance they hope will continue for one more game.
“(Delmar) is a really good team, and I think that gives us confidence,” Pilson said. “We’re motivated to keep playing hard and keep playing together.”