If there’s anything East Chapel Hill field hockey coach Susan Taylor dislikes, its a lack of effort.
She can accept that even a championship team might lose every so often, but it should never happen because her players let up.
Taylor had nothing to worry about in that regard last week when East Chapel Hill traveled over to Chapel Hill for the first of two meetings this season between the two old rivals.
With less than 15 minutes to play in Thursday’s game at Culton-Peerman Stadium, the Wildcats were still peppering the Tigers with shots.
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It’s not so much that East was trying to run up the score. It was more about using an excellent offense to keep Chapel Hill on defense.
East Chapel Hill controlled the tempo of play most of the night and came away with a 4-0 win, preserving another shutout for Wildcat goalkeeper Grace Haley and becoming the first opponent to score on Chapel Hill in seven games.
“The shutout definitely meant something,” Taylor said. “No one wanted Grace to get scored on.
East Chapel Hill (10-1) has won eight games by shutout, five straight since a 7-2 loss to private school powerhouse Durham Academy.
Thursday’s loss was the first this year for Chapel Hill (9-3) against an NCHSAA opponent. Like East, Chapel Hill’s only other losses were against NCISAA members Charlotte Latin and Raleigh Ravenscroft.
Haley, one of several all-state players for East, has never given up a goal to Chapel Hill, and the Tigers have shut out the Tigers three straight times since she took over as a starter in 2012.
East also won twice against CHHS in 2012, though Chapel Hill scored penalty strokes in the final game of the season.
“This game is always close, always tough,” Haley said. “This is always a big game for us, and we came out with intensity from the start.
“It’s just a great feeling not to give up a goal to them.”
Caroline Kolk led the East Chapel Hill offense with two goals, while Elizabeth Jensen and Marissa Creatore each stroked in one.
“We work together, hard, as a team, and win like this means all that hard work is worth it,” Kolk said. “This means a lot to us.”
Kolk’s opened the scoring following a penalty corner, started by Kila Hancock’s feed to Sarah Towne near the top of the circle. Towne flicked the ball over to Kolk on her right, who stroked it inside the near post 11:10 into the game.
Creatore scored from the baseline less than 3 minutes into the second half, and Kolk scored her second barely 2 minutes after that, putting East Chapel Hill ahead 3-0 with 24:50 left to play.
Chapel Hill got off a series of shots over the next 10 minutes but was thwarted by some excellent play by East’s defense and some almost point-blank saves by Haley.
“Grace was the player of the game as far as I was concerned,” Taylor said.
“Our defense is really solid. They know each other, inside and out, and they really work together well.”
Taylor said the Wildcats understand each other well enough that they recognize when someone like Sarah Towne, the backbone of East’s defense, moves forward into midfield or beyond, another player instinctively drops back.
Towne repeatedly threatened Chapel Hill up front, helping with her fore-checking to generate Jensen’s goal.
With the Tigers unable to clear East’s possession out of their defensive third of the field, Jensen pounced on the ball in a crowd inside the circle and knocked it in with 18:50 remaining in regulation.
“We’ve often had a tendency to let down some when we get a lead,” Taylor said. “But our players were intense the entire game and never let down.”