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It was a "dream season" for the Harwood Union varsity field hockey team, who took home the State Championship trophy following what spectators called a "nail-biting" 2-1 game that took place Saturday, October 25, on the turf field at UVM.
The Highlanders defeated defending Division 2 State Champions, the Woodstock High School Wasps, thus completing their perfect season with a record of 16 wins, 0 ties, and 0 losses.
The game got off to a slow start, which allowed the Wasps to take an early 1-0 lead. The Highlanders came back with the help of freshman Jill Pierce, who scored the Highlander's first goal, tying the game up.
Harwood had no previous experience playing on the artificial turf field, which was made slick by rainy conditions. Harwood's speed and vigor ultimately wore the Wasps down, when midway through the second half, senior Karli Stemple scored the winning goal with the assistance of sophomore standout Sophie Lisaius, who completed a pass redirected by Stemple.
It was a Cinderella season of sorts, for first year varsity coach Heidi Hill, who led the Highlanders to their first state title since 1986, consequently before any of the players were born. "I just can't believe this," Hill said. "I am not one who is ever short of words, but this time I am honestly speechless," she said, immediately following the victory.
This year's varsity squad was a unique combination of veteran starters and strong young talent, including the strength of sophomore goal tender Chelsea Delphia, who made several key saves in Saturday's game.
The team had a total of 10 seniors, some of whom had been on the varsity team together since their sophomore year. Their teamwork and hard work came together at the right moment, according to spectators, providing for a fulfilling and gratifying big win in front of the copious fans at the UVM stadium.