CLAYMONT — A light rain could do nothing to tamper the joy the Archmere field hockey team felt after holding off Wilmington Charter, 4-3, on Nov. 2. The win, secured on a late goal by Rebecca Olsen, earned the Auks the Diamond State Athletic Conference title this season.
The game, originally scheduled for Sept. 23, was a fast-paced, up-and-down affair that did not disappoint. The Force came in with just one loss and one tie, and they were on the board almost immediately as Ellery Underhill converted a pass from Elizabeth Terranova just 2:14 into the game. Three minutes later, Maura Read equalized for the Auks, with the assist to Bella Hughes.
The goal gave some momentum to the Auks, and they nearly took the lead a few minutes later, but Charter goalkeeper Autumn Shahan stopped a penalty stroke. The Auks did not miss later in the quarter, as Lindsey Renshaw found the back of the cage on a wicked shot from a sharp angle to Shahan’s left.
The Force turned the tide in the second, earning back-to-back penalty corners four minutes into the quarter. On the second, Auks goalkeeper Ava Hughes came up with a save, and the Charter pressure in the ensuing minutes did not result in any shots on goal.
A minute into the second half, Charter had another corner, and this time, they tied the game. Rachel Watt took the inbounds pass and blasted a shot into the goal. It didn’t take long for Archmere to answer, however, as Olsen took a shot off a penalty corner that was knocked down in front, but Bella Dell’Oso was there to tap the loose ball over the line for the 3-2 Auks lead. Renshaw nearly added another midway through the third, but Shahan came up with a big save.
Charter earned a second penalty corner in the third as time ran out. Hughes stopped the Force’s first attempt, but the Auks were unable to control the ball, and play continued. Tess Gatti made them pay, tying the score with zeroes on the clock.
The back-and-forth continued into the final 15 minutes. The Auks missed on two penalty corners and fought off a two-minute shorthanded situation
Finally, with fewer than five minutes remaining, they had one more corner. Dell’Oso inbounded to Olsen, and her shot was true. Dell’Oso made the play possible with a steal and shot that was deflected over the end line, setting up the penalty corner.
The Force applied plenty of pressure in the last couple of minutes, but the Auks’ defense held, and Hughes came up with one final save with 37 seconds to go. As in the third quarter, Charter picked up a penalty corner as time expired, but this time, Archmere was able to clear the ball out of harm’s way.
Archmere finished with an 8-5 shot advantage and eight penalty corners to six for Wilmington Charter. Hughes had two saves. The Auks ended the regular season with a 12-3 record.
Shahan had four saves for the Force, whose regular season wrapped up at 13-2. Both teams will be playing in the postseason; the brackets for Divisions I and II will be announced Friday.
All photos by Mike Lang.