More than luck was required for East Chapel Hill High School to win its seventh consecutive N.C. Field Hockey Association championship. Game skills, raw athletic talent and dedication all went into the Wildcats’ seemingly easy, 7-0 win Saturday over Charlotte Catholic in the NCFHA final.
“This is the best team that I have ever coached based on the players’ talent level and how well they all work together,” East Chapel Hill coach Susan Taylor said.
East Chapel Hill (18-2) lost this year only to two private schools – Durham Academy (18-2) and the team that beat DA in the NCISSA championship game, Charlotte Country Day.
Despite going undefeated against all NCFHA programs, East Chapel Hill entered Saturday’s championship game at neutral Forsyth Country Day with some concerns, given that the Wildcats’ last meeting with Charlotte Catholic – in last year’s NCFHA semifinals – went to double overtime and penalty strokes before the ‘Cats advanced.
“I went into the game thinking that might happen again,” East Chapel Hill senior Marissa Creatore said. “They’ve got a good program and a lot of good players.
“But we were a better team. We relied on passing to move the ball, and they seemed to rely more on just having individual players dribble straight ahead.”
There was also the matter of East’s 10 previous state championships in 13 years – six straight before Saturday.
“I wasn’t as nervous going into this game about winning as I was about our possibly being the team that could end the streak,” Creatore said. “No one wanted to make any mistakes.”
The Wildcats could have gained some confidence from seeing how the tournament worked out. Their two toughest rivals were eliminated in the state quarterfinals by two Forsyth teams: No. 1 seeded Carrboro was upset 1-0 in triple overtime by No. 8 West Forsyth, and No. 10 Chapel Hill lost 1-0 to R.J. Reynolds.
East breezed through the tournament. The Wildcats topped Mt. Tabor 9-0, Greensboro Page 5-0, West Forsyth 7-2 in the semifinals, and then shut out Catholic.
Senior Elizabeth Jensen opened the scoring in Saturday’s championship game with a goal started off a penalty corner at the 18:38 mark of the first half. Creatore scored twice in the last 8:43 of the half to put East solidly in front.
“It was pretty surreal,” Taylor said.
“After we had three goals, I realized our girls just wanted it more. Not to be unfair to the other team – I’m sure they wanted to win, too – but our girls were beating them to every 50-50 ball. We just seemed more focused.”
East senior Sarah Towne added two more goals in the first 8:10 of the second half, both off penalty corners started by classmate Ellie Richardson, to crush any hopes of a Cougar comeback. Creatore finished them off with two more goals, with 17:27 and 10:25 left in the match.
“This was a great way to go out in my senior year,” said Creatore, who plans to play next year at the University of North Carolina.
“It’s great to be part of something at East like the field hockey team. This never gets old,” agreed Towne, who added that “Marrissa and I have been part of four straight state champions. That’s especially cool.”
Taylor, who herself played on East’s first state champions before she graduated from the school in 2002, likewise was elated that East had won a seventh state championship by a 7-0 score.
“Every year we win is special. Winning seven in a row is indescribable,” Taylor said. “We won seven in a row, and we won 7-0. Lucky seven. Pretty cool.”