ATGLEN - As the season winds down and the fall air gets cooler, at least one area high school field hockey team is starting to get hot.Unionville piled up three second half goals on the way to a convincing 4-0 victory over host Octorara on Tuesday afternoon. Unionville improved to 6-4 in the Ches-Mont League, and moved into points tie atop the American Division standings with a Great Valley team who does hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over them, though.
"I think we really just needed to get more familiar with each other,' said Unionville coach Beth Lynch, on her squad's strong play of late. "Things just weren't clicking for us in the beginning of the season, but we are getting better as we get to know each other.'
Unionville controlled the action from the opening whistle, and by the end of the first half, the Indians had outshot the Braves by a 9-1 margin. But, thanks in no small part to some stellar play in the cage from Octorara goalie Linzy Amen, only one shot from Taylor Denton found its mark, and the lead was only 1-0 at the break. Amen finished the afternoon with 12 saves, including eight in the opening stanza."We've had some inconsistency between our halves this year,' said Lynch. "But we're getting better at playing good, 60-minute games.'
The second half saw Unionville step up the pressure even more, pounding inside the circle to the tune of 11 shots on goal. This time around, though, the shots were finding the back of the cage.
"Our passing was really good today,' said Unionville's Rachel Stafford, who finished with three assists in the game. 'We were really doing a nice job of putting it on each other's sticks.'
Denton finished the afternoon with a pair of goals, finding the back of the cage for the Indians first and third scores of the day.
"We did a good job of finding each other on the field, and knowing where each other would be,' said Denton. "It isn't always easy to make good passes on grass, so it was important that we communicated as well as we did.'
Turf teams often struggle to adjust to the odd hops and slower pace of a grass field, but the Indians seemed to adjust just fine.
"Games on grass really force you to have better teamwork,' said Lynch. "You aren't going to get as many of the breakaway chances, and so you've got to be more reliant on your teammates. Grass never makes for the prettiest game, but considering the conditions, we did a pretty good job making the passes we needed to make.'
Unionville goalie Sarah O'Neill was barely tested. Octorara only got off two shots on goal in the contest, and O'Neill stopped both of them to record the shutout.
Unionville, a state qualifier the past two seasons, is in the midst of shaking off a slow start and making a run at yet another postseason appearance.
"We just have to keep stepping it up,' said Denton. "Because we started slow, we're probably not going to be expected to win. We just have to keep it going and hopefully we can get ourselves back into districts.'
Unionville 4, Octorara 0
Unionville 1 3 -- 4
Octorara 0 0 -- 0
Unionville goals: Denton 2, Bass, Murphy.
Goalie saves: O'Neill (U) 2; Amen (OCT) 12.