Senior Sophie Hartl breaks out in varsity field hockey’s 3-1 loss to East Grand Rapids

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After a 7-1 loss in its previous matchup, the varsity field hockey team looked for revenge against rival East Grand Rapids. But, with a new juice to Forest Hills, the girls headed into the game with a different mindset.

“Heading into the game, our biggest improvements were mindset and attitude,” senior Julia Brown said. “We could have been down because they won last time, but instead, we realized we have nothing to lose.”

The start of the game was not exactly how the girls had planned. East attacked out of the gates and scored within the first two minutes of the game. After losing the ball again, the Pioneers stole it and capitalized on another opportunity. East led 2-0 in the first four minutes of the game. Forest Hills trailed 2-0; however, the defense would tighten up. 

Sloppy is a perfect word to describe the first quarter. Towards the end of the quarter, however, East had an unbarred opportunity to score. Junior Shannon Murphy deflected the shot and saved a potential goal. Two minutes later, sophomore goalie Alayna Gschwind racked up three saves to end the quarter. 

To start the second quarter, Forest Hills played cleaner while taking care of the ball. FH made adjustments, and it was evident. East Grand Rapids struggled to get shots on the cage with the smothering defense from FH. Senior Sophie Hartl shined on all aspects of the field, including the defensive end. She stopped East during scoring attempts, handled the ball well, and was all over the field.

With four minutes remaining in the quarter, Forest Hills faced multiple chances at the cage. They had two shots on goal but could not convert on either shot. One of the only opportunities East had in the second quarter was with two minutes remaining. However, Alayna had other plans as she saved the shot to keep Forest Hills down 2-0 at halftime. Juniors Maria Jacobs and Lexi Slywka also played strong defensively, not allowing many East fast breaks.

In the first half, the story for the girls was bend don’t break. East put tremendous pressure on the FH defense, but the girls stayed solid and communicated well. The second half seemed like a whole new game for the varsity field hockey team. Offensively, the team passed the ball much better and had great advancements. Head coach Gabriella Coty agreed that her team played cleaner ball in the second half.

“We passed the ball much better in the second half and communicated better as well,” coach Coty said. “The team talked at halftime and made adjustments by themselves. It just proves how good the chemistry is within this team and how we have many leaders.”

Although Forest Hills was playing better, results were not showing on the scoreboard. In the third quarter, FH had multiple shots on goal but could not turn them into goals. Still, for the most part, the girls were confident they could still win the game.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the team still trailed 2-0 but gained a wave of confidence. Defensively, the girls were put in a bad spot as East possessed the ball near the cage. Again, the bend doesn’t break the mentality shined for Forest Hills. The defense would come together and get another stop, giving the offense new life. This was when Forest Hills took advantage of the Pioneer’s defense. After having many opportunities within the eight-minute mark, Forest Hills would finally score. During a corner opportunity, FH drew up a magnificent play which resulted in a Sophie Hartl goal. The score was 2-1, with 7:21 remaining. 

East would get the ball in FH territory with around five minutes remaining. The Pioneers displayed phenomenal ball movement, which would turn into another goal for EGR. After going up 3-1 with four minutes left, the Pioneers held onto their lead to win the game. 

Although Forest Hills had lost, the team’s spirits were high after the game. Coach Coty had a similar positive perspective on the loss.

“I was proud with how the team performed today,” coach Coty mentioned. “Our passing and overall communication were much better compared to the last time we played them, so I’ve seen a lot of improvement heading into the playoffs.”

The varsity field hockey team moves to 4-8-1 on the season after that battle with EGR. Heading into the playoffs, the team does not know who it will play yet, but it does not matter to the team who they play—its mindset stays the same heading into the final stretch of the season.

“We have a very similar mindset heading into the playoffs,” Julia Brown exclaimed. “We are always underestimated as a team, so we’re headed into the playoffs with no expectations on us. We’re going to play as one and give it all we have.”