Great Valley tops Oxford in field hockey
● By J. Chambless
Brooke Rush passes the ball in the game against Great Valley. She is one of just three seniors on the squad, and a leader for the Hornets. (Photo by Steve Hoffman)
By Steven Hoffman
It has been a season of learning and growth for the Oxford field hockey team.
After graduating nine seniors from the 2018 squad, there are new leaders on the team this season, and a lot of younger players who are adapting to new, more significant roles. Some players are seeing their first regular playing time at the varsity level.
The Hornets didn’t win the Oct. 10 game against Great Valley—the visiting Patriots emerged with a 4-0 victory—but Oxford coach Karly Belford still saw plenty of evidence that the team is making progress each and every time they play together.
Against Great Valley, Oxford’s players hustled and worked hard throughout, even after falling behind. Early on, it was Oxford that held the momentum—but the young team is still learning how to finish an offensive push, and they weren’t able to get on the scoreboard, despite the fact that they were playing well on transitions and controlling the flow of the game.
Great Valley took the lead with 19:13 left to play in the first half when Alex Thomas scored a goal with a lightning-quick shot to make it 1-0.
Belford and Oxford’s assistant coaches took every opportunity to provide in-game instruction to the players, utilizing every moment of the timeouts to review plays that had just occurred, to teach, and to discuss strategy.
Momentum swung toward Great Valley in the latter part of the first half, but the Hornets were able to keep the score right where it was. Oxford had a scoring opportunity late in the first half, but Great Valley turned it away.
The Patriots’ offense struck again in the early part of the second half, scoring two goals—another one by Thomas and then one by Sydney Lavin—in quick succession. The last Great Valley goal came with just 3:21 to play in the contest, making it 4-0.
Oxford has four wins on the season, but there is a good opportunity for improvement as the team gains experience. Belford pointed out that this year’s squad only has three seniors—all important contributors, but that means that most of the team will return next season with that much more experience playing together.
“One strength,” Belford explained, “is that our communication is good.”
The seniors who have been leading the team this year are Brooke Rush and Haley Snowden, a pair of mid-fielders who do a good job on transitions. Another senior standout is goalkeeper Alyssa Gilley. She’s been hampered occasionally by injuries this season—she wasn’t in goal for the recent game against Great Valley—but she, too, has played very well.
Belford also lauded the play of goalkeeper Kirsten Brennan, who has performed well when she has stepped in for Gilley.
Amanda Holz, Abby Higgins, and Kate Lilly are just a few of the younger players who have played well for Oxford this season, hinting at the promise of the Oxford field hockey team.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email firstname.lastname@example.org.