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Field Hockey vs. Brookfield Academy

Freshman Caroline Kellner scored two goals to lead the University School field hockey team to a come-from-behind victory over Brookfield Academy on Wednesday, October 14th at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee. 

The Wildcats’ 3-1 win couldn’t have occurred at a more propitious time.  The arch-rivals were competing for the chance to play in the state championship game in the Wisconsin High School Field Hockey Association State Tournament. Their win in the tournament’s semi-finals moved the Wildcats into the finals against Divine Savior Holy Angels on Saturday, October 17th.

Lauren Graham, one of USM’s captains, said, “Everyone should be proud: great job out there.”

The Blue Knights and the Wildcats had drawn to a 1-1 tie back on September 29th.  But that game was just USM’s second of the season.  The Wildcats had improved throughout the ensuing days.  They clearly showed it in Wednesday evening’s encounter.

The Wildcats were relentless in their effort.  They hustled. They defended their end of the field. They passed well, moving the ball up the field and across it wonderfully.  They executed their game plan. 

Andrea Burlew, USM’s coach, said, “I told the girls they played well for four quarters.  I was so proud of them.  We played like a team.  The other team had three or four good players; we had nineteen who all played together and supported each other.”

Sami Stommel, USM’s junior goalkeeper, recorded just 2 saves in the game. Freshman Olivia Greipp, BA’s goalie, made only 3 saves, but USM players were frequently in the BA side of the field.  They swarmed around the BA circle like bees seeking nectar. 

Although the Wildcats attacked sedulously, they were unable to put a shot on goal in the first half.  The Blue Knights managed just one shot themselves in those first 30 minutes. They scored on it. 

The BA goal came on a penalty corner play. Senior Mary Ratnayake inserted the ball across the USM circle to her classmate, Ella Wareham.  Wareham fired a bullet that penetrated the USM goal mouth with 7:07 left in the first quarter. 

Being behind did not bother the Wildcats.  They kept at it, and they generated more and more offense as the half progressed.  Their unending pressure caused the Blue Knights to make errors, allowing USM 8 penalty corners in the game, 5 in the second half.  The Wildcats converted 3 of those opportunities into goals.

USM finally tied the game early in the third quarter.  Inserting the ball on a penalty corner, Kellner passed the ball out to junior Greta Hinke.  Hinke immediately passed it to the top of the circle to Natalie Epperson, her classmate.  Epperson saw sophomore Eloise Hayden moving in from the left and fed the ball to her.  Hayden blazed a shot toward the goal.  Kellner put her stick on it, directing it between Greipp’s legs at 13:51.

The Wildcats scored the eventual game-winner with 4:09 left in the fourth quarter.  Junior Caroline Kornreich forced another Blue Knight error, giving USM another penalty corner play. Junior Quinn Davis inserted the ball to Hinke, who passed it to Epperson.  To avoid a defender, Epperson passed it back to Hinke.  Hinke fired. Hinke scored. 2-1, USM.

A few minutes later the Wildcats added an insurance goal, assuring themselves of a trip to the championship game.

Describing the goal, USM coach Derek Aspinall said, “It was beautiful.  Great ball control and teamwork for that goal.”

On the play, Kellner inserted the ball to Hinke.  A defender flew out to block Hinke’s shot, so she passed it back to Lauren Graham.  Lauren passed it to sophomore Evelyn Graham, her sister, on the right.  Evelyn collected the ball, whirled, and fired a shot as Greipp moved out to make the save.  The ball careened off the goalie’s pad into the air and toward the net.  Near the far post, Kellner settled the ball with a reverse stick then clapped it across the goal line before Griepp could recover.  Time of the goal, 2:07.

Kellner said, “I hit it on my reverse, and it went in on the corner.  There was just one open spot and it went in.”

The young goal scorer acknowledged the whole team’s successful work ethic, “Really, it was a team effort.  We did so well passing the ball, and we worked as a team.  The players on the sidelines really helped with their cheering.”

USM is 5-2-1. The Wildcats play Divine Savior Holy Angels in the Wisconsin High School Field Hockey Association State Tournament Finals at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 17th at Hart Park in Wauwatosa.