Varsity field hockey battles in a game that ends in a 2-2 tie against Novi

Pierson VanGorp

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Coming into the Saturday morning game against Novi, the varsity field hockey team knew it was the biggest matches of the season. This was due to the fact that it was one of the most celebrated nights in Highschool sports: senior night. It was also the last home game for senior Amber DeJonge. She has been the team’s captain and leader throughout the season. Going into the game, she was more fired up than any other game, which in return got her team fired up right before the matchup. This seemed to work, as the girls ended with a tie against the Novi Wildcats 2-2.

“ We only have one Senior: Amber DeJonge from Eastern. Also, since it’s our last home game, we told the girls to go out and play hard, give it everything you have and above all… have fun,” head coach Andrea Shaner said.

There were a few players that had a huge impact on the matchup vs Novi. The first player was Shannon Murphy—a returning player from last year knew how much this game meant to Amber. This changed her mentality, as she flew all around the field the whole game. She got most of the loose balls, played fast and aggressive, and scored the first goal of the game. Another key player in the game was Sophie Hartl, the junior from FHC. Without their defensive efforts, the girls would have lost, and Sophie was the main catalyst defensively. Nothing got past her, and she did a great job keeping attackers in front of her. Lastly, Maddie Shaner, a freshmen from West Michigan Aviation Academy, had a standout game. She was aggressive offensively, won most of the loose ball battles, and had good shot opportunities. With all these good attributes, the team had a quality performance. 

“ I told the team we needed to pick up the pace and really work at playing better in the circle,” Coach Shaner said after being down 2-1 at the half.

At the start of the game, Novi started attacking offensively, but the Forest Hills defense locked them up. Then, the offense attacked and it paid off when Shannon scored the teams’ first game. Towards the end of the first quarter, the wildcats struck, tying the game 1-1. Most of the second quarter was a defensive battle. The ball was on the Forest Hills side majority of the game, but they did not let this beat them. With halftime arising, the wildcats scored in transition making it 2-1. At halftime, the team gathered around their goal and talked about how they could improve in the second half and win the game. It looked to pay off when their defense sharpened up and they had a lot more scoring opportunities. In the 4th quarter, Forest Hills was still down 2-1. They gave it all they had, which later led to a score, tying the game 2-2. In crunch time, the girls played faster knowing the time situation, and they had a chance to score but could not pull it off. The final score was 2-2, but the girls were content with their effort.

“We’ll be working on our corner plays for the remainder of the season. The girls are peaking at the right time and have lots of potential,” Shaner said.

After the game, the team showed their senior day tradition with everyone lining up except Amber. They set a pathway and she ran through it with her stick. While running through the path, the team was cheering and chanting. 

Lastly, I asked a few teammates of Amber on how they felt about this game. Sophie Hartl said “Amber was very excited for the game and wanted to win on senior day. She got the team excited and pumped up and that gave us more motivation which led us to play more aggressive.”

The team is now 2-2-1 and 0-2 in the conference. They play East Grand Rapids on October 6 at 4:30 P.M. This is a big rivalry game for the girls so it should be a good competition. 

We definitely wanted to win this game more for her,” Shannon said when being asked about how she felt about the atmosphere during the game. “We wanted to give her one last win at home before she leaves FHC. She was a good leader and got us ready for the game.”