Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Oct. 10, 2015 — Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) 2, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) 0

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. — Ever since USA Field Hockey started identifying younger players for inclusion in high-performance playing opportunities and putting teenagers Katie O’Donnell and Katelyn Falgowski on the senior women’s national team, there has been a boomlet of younger players with great skills who are looking to do the same thing. And it is creating interesting situations for scholastic coaches blending those players into their teams.

Today, as Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) and Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) met in an interconference match, the skills shown by Unionville sophomore Erin Matson and Conestoga freshman Charlotte De Vries were obvious. They were the pivot points of their respective offenses, hanging back a bit from their forward lines and creating passing lanes for their teammates. They were also their respective teams’ first option on penalty corners.

The Indians were able to take their chances a bit better on the day, winning 2-0. In truth, however, the game was a demonstration of tactical defense on the part of both coaches. Megan Smyth of Conestoga and Erin Curtis of Unionville were able to elicit tremendous defensive performances from their players in trying to bottle up the star players on the other side.

“Defensively they were really calm and smart,” said Curtis, who got good games from Annie McDonough on corner defense, Caroline Fisher and Kelly Denton in field play, and Lizzie Gaebel in the goal cage. “They communicated and talked really well with each other and they played a smart and tough game.”

“They came ready for this game,” said Smyth, who got good games from Madison Rogalski, Sophie Grove, Meredith Ross, and Kiley Allen on defense. “And that’s all you can hope for. These are the games that will get you ready for the postseason.”

But, as usual at this level of field hockey, good offense can beat good defense. McDonough, in the 15th minute of play, withstood a tackle on the right end line and feathered a pass to the doorstep that Claire Donovan calmly deflected into the cage.

The lead held, and a piece of brilliance from Matson doubled the lead. In the 50th minute, she walked in from the right wing and, with a sudden effort, lanced a backhander through a maze of legs and sticks into the backboard with an effort that reminds one of O’Donnell.

Matson, who has recently made a verbal commitment to the University of North Carolina, is used to these kinds of moments. Her international field hockey career started at the age of 11 (that’s right, eleven), when she was selected to the United States U-19 indoor national team. She moved up to the senior women’s indoor national team at the age of 13 and played major international tournaments, including the Pan Am Cup, where she scored a shootout goal in the medal round.

In the outdoor game, she’s currently the youngest member of the U-21 national team pool, which includes a number of collegiate players including Maryland’s Linnea Gonzales, Virginia’s Tara Vittese, and North Carolina’s Gabrielle Major. This group will be training towards next April’s Junior Pan Am Championships, which serves as qualification for the Junior World Cup in New Delhi, India in December 2016.

“It’s hard knowing that people are going to man-mark you and try to take you out of the game,” Matson said. “I guess part of it is learning how to deal with it and accepting it and playing with it. But also it’s about your teammates around you realizing that it’s happening so that if I pull out and leave some space, we can find out teammates and beat (the marking scheme).”

Matson has, apparently, been teaching her teammates well. A number of her colleagues were working on backhand deliveries during pregame warmups, and McDonough’s elimination play leading to the opening goal was the work of a player who understands space.

“Annie and (twin sister) Maddie are very solid and smart players, and they are very good in our midfield,” Curtis says, “We have a lot of sophomores on our team.”

Charlotte De Vries, for her part, is in the U-17 national team pool along with Meredith Sholder of Emmaus (Pa.), Katie Jean and Mackenzie Allessie of Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.), Mackenzie Karl of Chantilly Westfield (Va.), and Ali McCarthy of Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.). But she was practically born into the sport. Her mother, Kerry De Vries, is a graduate of the University of Iowa, a member of the 2014 U.S. Masters World Cup team, and former head coach of Kent State University.

Charlotte De Vries has also had an international career in field hockey, but in a different way. The De Vries family lived in Belgium for seven years, and, being a hockey nation, she played for a local youth club. But three years ago, the family moved back to the United States, where Charlotte eventually made the varsity program at Virginia Beach Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.). As an eighth-grader in the Virginia Independent School League, she was eligible to play on varsity, and she made a strong impact on the Dolphins as they won the Tidewater Conference postseason tournament on her penalty stroke.

Today, however, De Vries was hounded by the Unionville defense, both in the attacking third and on penalty corners. She did not get a ball on frame on the team’s corner chances, though she did manufacture some opportunities through her technical skill on the ball.

“We played really well today, but we have to think about getting our shots off, getting it off earlier,” De Vries said.

Curtis knows what it was like the last time Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) had a contending field hockey team. She was on the 1992 team that made the PIAA Class AA final, along with future U.S. national teamers Christine DeBow and Kate “Tiki” Barber. Problem was, the Indians faced an Emmaus team which had future 1996 Olympian Cindy Werley, and it was the Green Hornets who won the title.

But with the effort shown this game leading into a game at Downington (Pa.) East tomorrow, Curtis can gauge where her team is headed into the District 1 postseason tournament.

“It’s firing us up to get this kind of competition late in the season,” Curtis says, “and it’s getting us fired up to finish really strong.”

CONESTOGA (11-2) 0 – 0 — 0
UNIONVILLE (12-0) 1 – 1 — 2
U: Claire Donovan (Annie McDonough), fg, 15th
U: Erin Matson, fg, 50th
Shots — C:
7; U: 11. Saves — C: Alexandra Showers 8, defensive 1; U: Lizzie Gaebel 7.

FULL TIME Still feel as though both teams will be addressing some aspects of the game, but either team would be a good candidate to win the state final next month

FULL TIME These two sides are amongst the top four in District 1-AAA power points, and they certainly have given us a good preview of what could happen if they were to meet down the road

FULL TIME The siren goes with Unionville winning 2-0

59:55 CHS PC Won’t be played out because the margin is more than one goal

54:10 CHS PC De Vries tackled by Caroline Fisher

53:30 CHS PC Casey Allen’s shot deflected! Will reset because of a raised ball

50:30 UHS PC Claire Donovan’s shot saved by Ivy Hollander; rebound goes wide!

49:15 UHS GOAL Erin Matson trots into the circle and backhands a lightning bolt into the back of the net! Unionville leads 2-0 on a genius strike!

43:00 UHS PC Saved off the line by Sophie Grove!

41:40 UHS PC Pass to Matson at the stroke mark but the ball trickles wide! How in the laws of physics did that not go in?

40:31 Timeout, Conestoga

38:00 UHS PC Mistrapped off Matson’s foot

36:00 UHS PC Annie McDonough’s shot dribbles short of the cage

35:00 Matson snaps off a shot in the D that Kiley Allen takes and clears!

32:00 CHS PC De Vries with the raised ball

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME Conestoga had some corner chances but has not forced Gaebel into a save on any of them

HALFTIME The Unionville goal came on a bit of an innocuous play from deep in the corner, but was well-finished

HALFTIME Good hockey on display here, with Conestoga playing the needed positional defense against Matson

HALFTIME The siren goes with Unionville up 1-0

28:00 CHS PC Option left is tackled

23:15 Kelly Denton goes for goal and hits the tire on the outside of the cage

20:00 CHS PC Insert hits Meredith Ross in the foot

15:30 CHS PC De Vries has her shot defensed by Maddie McDonough

14:38 UHS GOAL Annie McDonough with the work in the right corner, finding an open lane to Claire Donovan, who finds net. Unionville leads 1-0

12:20 Unionville goalie Lizzie Gaebel has to make a sprawling stop

11:00 An enterprising De Vries snaps off a speculative shot that goes just wide

9:46 UHS PC Insert hits Matson in the foot

8:00 UHS PC Claire Donovan’s shot defensed by Casey Allen of Conestoga

3:00 UHS PC Matson runs a give-and-go but the shot is repelled by the Pioneers’ defense

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Conestoga is in the maroon with silver trim, Unionville is in the white with navy kilts and yellow trim

PREGAME The teams are warming up under clear skies with temperature around 52 degrees

PREGAME The key to this game, I think, will be which team is able to cut the cord between the key passers on each team and their intended targets. I believe a good start is essential

PREGAME Unionville, for its part, has attacking midfielder Erin Matson, who is the youngest member of the United States U-21 national team pool. The sophomore has 30 goals this season, among the nation’s leaders

PREGAME But the teams also have one other key commonality: a prodigy. Conestoga freshman Charlotte De Vries is the daughter of former Kent State head coach Kerry De Vries, and has scored a number of important goals this season

PREGAME The teams have a lot in common heading into this showdown. Each team has a key pair of sisters, and plenty of senior leadership

PREGAME Conestoga, leaders of the Central League, are 11-1 on the season. Unionville, leaders of the Ches-Mont American Division, is 11-0

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to this interconference field hockey game between Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) and the hosts, Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.)


No comments yet»

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: