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Field hockey: New Hope tops rival


Every team has that one rival that towers over the others in importance.

For the New Hope-Solebury field hockey team, that team is Gwynedd Mercy Academy.

The two had some classic postseason matchups in the past, but that changed when Gwynedd Mercy moved up from Class A to Class 2A in District One play in 2018.

The two met up on Monday for the first time since 2017 and the visiting Lions emerged with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over their non-league foes.

Ella Czarnecki scored the lone goal of the game with 11:31 remaining in the first half. New Hope’s defense made that goal hold up, withstanding a late surge by the Monarchs that lasted until the final buzzer.

“I knew we needed to score quickly against them to get them rocking back on their heels,” said Czarnecki, a senior. “I don’t think they were expecting it and I really wanted it to be in the first half. I was so excited to score and I’m lucky to have teammates who can find us and get us the ball when we need it.

I was the one who scored but it’s always a team effort and that’s better than one skilled player, our coach (Gwen Smith) always says.”

Czarnecki and her teammates, who are 15-0 this season and have yet to give up a goal, knew it would be a tough game.

“It was a big win for us,” she said. “I think we were a little nervous coming into the game. We didn’t play them last year but we did my freshman and sophomore years and we won against them in the district final so this team is really a challenge for us.

“They were really coming at us at the end and I think our defense did a really good job to keep them from scoring. You’re got to keep cool, though. If you get too frantic, mistakes can happen.

“We were looking at their stats. We saw all the big teams they played and how they did so well against them so we knew it wouldn’t be easy and it wasn’t.”

Czarnecki hasn’t chosen a college yet, but would like to be a member of a college equestrian team. She is considering a major in criminology or sociology. In addition to playing field hockey at New Hope, she is on the track and field team, in Model U.N. and Future Business Leaders of America, and she plays the violin.

New Hope coach Smith understands the importance of playing quality opponents.

“This has been such a rivalry for both of us,” Smith said. “We’ve met them so many times in the postseason when we were in the same classification. They’re a fantastic program and I always look forward to playing them.

“We’re still Class A and they moved up to Class 2A but it’s still definitely a big game for us. Any time you play someone of their caliber it reveals what you need to work on. It challenges us and that’s what it’s all about. I absolutely love that. I always look forward to playing them. I know they’re always going to be strong, I know they’re always going to be skilled, I know they’re always going to be fast.

“We got one in. We missed some opportunities, definitely, and our defense stayed strong at the end. This is definitely a big win for us.”

New Hope goaltender Lydia Eastburn made four saves while the Lions outshot Gwynedd Mercy, 9-6.