Bucks County Herald

Field hockey:

New Hope advances to state quaterfinals for consecutive year

KAREN SANGILLO



New Hope-Solebury beat Sacred Heart 2-0 last Saturday to claim the District One Class A title. The Lions advanced to the PIAA Class A quarterfinals after shutting down Northwestern Lehigh, 2-0, on Tuesday.

It was probably the biggest goal of Erin Firth’s young career.

The sophomore on the New Hope-Solebury field hockey team converted on a penalty stroke to give the Lions the first of two goals as they shut out Northwestern Lehigh, 2-0, in Tuesday’s first round of the PIAA Class A tournament on Tuesday night at Wissahickon.

Firth’s strike came midway through a first half that saw the Lions dominate but not capitalize, as they had eight of their nine corners and 13 of their 15 shots on goal in that period.

“It was amazing,” Firth said. “There’s so much pressure. Everyone’s watching you. I know I can do it in practice but it’s different in a game and this was a playoff game so when it went in it was just amazing.

“It’s so nerve wracking and the fact that the game was 0-0 added to that but once the ball went in it was a huge relief.”

New Hope coach Gwen Smith didn’t hesitate to put Firth on the stroke line.

“Erin’s solid,” Smith said. “She’s a pretty steady player and that’s why she’s our go-to person for strokes. I have confidence in her. Once she put that in the momentum really went our way for the rest of the half.”

With 53.1 seconds remaining in the first half, Ella Czarnecki took a rebound off the pads of Northwestern Lehigh goaltender Taylor Page and slammed it home for the second goal.
The second half was a different story as Northwestern Lehigh picked up the pace.

“Our defense never wants to give up a goal,” New Hope’s Carolyn Thistlewaite said. “Even though we were ahead 2-0 we tried to play like the game was 0-0.”

New Hope (19-0-1), the District One champion, advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals. The Lions will take on the Lynx of Oley Valley (24-2), the District Three titlist, at a site and time to be determined. Oley Valley ousted District Five champ Forbes Road in the first round, 5-0.

It is the second consecutive year that the Lions have reached the state quarterfinals.

“I know this is only the second time New Hope has gotten to the quarterfinals and it’s a really great feeling,” Firth said. “We’re really excited but we didn’t look past this team. We didn’t know that much about them but we knew they had good goaltending and strong defenders and they did.”

Northwestern Lehigh, the runner up in District 11, ends the season 11-10-1. The Tigers ended the day with one shot and five penalty corners but gave the Lions a run for it in the second half.

“They stepped up,” Smith said. “They were pressuring, they were beating us to the ball in the second half. We dropped in intensity and they picked it up and they controlled possession more than we did in the second half.

“We controlled the first half and they controlled the second half. We need to do better and control for a whole game. The further it goes, the harder it gets.

“We were here last year and we have some experience but we’re still a young team with no seniors. We’ve got to be ready no matter what.”

Note: Tuesday’s Class 3A first-round game between Central Bucks East and Cardinal O’Hara was postponed to Wednesday. Results were unavailable at presstime.




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