R.J. Reynolds is one of the few field hockey programs in North Carolina with a pedigree as impressive at Chapel Hill’s high schools, so the Demons’ opinion carries some weight. So does a win against RJR, which No. 1 seeded Chapel Hill collected Tuesday night in a N.C. Field Hockey Association quarterfinal game.
“Chapel Hill always has a great team,” said Reynolds head coach Kate Haselwood. “This is probably the best we’ve ever seen them.”
Chapel Hill’s win Tuesday was its third against Reynolds this year. The Tigers trounced Reynolds 7-1 in the season-opening Play Four A Cure invitational in Cary and then shut out the Demons 4-0 Sept. 13 in Culton-Peerman Stadium.
“It’s tough to beat a team three times in a year,” Chapel Hill head coach Anna Long said.
Long’s Tigers could face another third-game scenario in the NCFHA semifinals. Chapel Hill (15-1) next will play the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal between No. 4 West Forsyth (11-4) and No. 5 East Chapel Hill (15-3).
Chapel Hill dominated play through most of Tuesday’s match with the No. 9-seeded Demons. The top-seeded Tigers were up 2-0 by halftime and led 3-0 less than 5 minutes into the second half on Julia Grant’s second goal of the night.
Grant scored the game’s first goal unassisted about 10 minutes into the match. Anna Blythe gave Chapel Hill a 2-0 lead with her shot off an assist from fellow sophomore Alleigh Kempf. Grant’s second goal came off an assist from senior teammate Chloe Grill, putting Chapel Hill up 3-0 just 4:55 into the second half.
The Tigers lost their stride a bit when junior co-captain Bryn Davis went down after being struck in the throat by a Demon’s stick. Davis stayed on one knee for about 2 minutes before shakily walking to the Chapel Hill bench under her own power.
Reynolds scored less than one minute later, when Sarah Grobbs fed Neely DuBose for a goal that produced the final 3-1 margin.
“We knew that playing Reynolds is always going to be a tough game, a physical game,” Long said. “I was glad to see how well we handled it. We defended really well, and we had some of the best passing combinations I’ve seen all season.
Reynolds (14-6) has won at least one playoff game each of the past four years, and the Demons had defeated Chapel Hill 1-0 in a 2014 quarterfinal match played in Winston-Salem.
“That was really upsetting,” said Grant, a senior. “It felt really good to beat them tonight.”