The winning continues for the New Hope-Solebury field hockey team.
The Lions have captured the Suburban One League Freedom Division championship the last two seasons and have won the District One Class A crown six years in a row.
The 2023 season is shaping up to be a good one.
Following Tuesday’s 9-0 victory at William Tennent, New Hope is 6-0 (5-0 SOL Freedom).
“This year is looking really strong, but we still have a lot of work to do this season connecting with each other,” said senior goalkeeper Caroline Berman.
Gwen Smith, in her 15th year as coach, describes Berman as a hard worker who studies the game, keeps up with the sport in the offseason and has the ability to play in college, if she chooses.
Berman was required to make only one save and face just one corner in the rout of Tennent, but Smith said she can count on her when facing opponents with stronger offenses.
Speaking of offense, New Hope has plenty of firepower, on display early in what was a 7-0 halftime lead. A late-arriving bus couldn’t stop the Lions. Junior Ava Cozza, who Smith said has college potential, scored four goals. Rylee Logston and Olivia Conte added two goals apiece, while Mia Patino scored in the fourth quarter.
In all, the Lions took 25 shots and had eight corners.
“We’re working really hard to develop,” said Conte, a sophomore whose goals came back to back in the second quarter, giving her team a 5-0 advantage and leading to a running clock. “We’re a smaller team, and we bond really well and learn so quickly.”
New Hope has 19 girls in the program, with a nice mix of veterans and newcomers. Madie Thistlewaite, a future college lacrosse player, is among the key seniors. Berman likes the freshmen class, singling out Emersyn Thistlewaite, Madie’s sister.
Smith likes what she sees.
“I think we have a lot of potential,” she said.
The coach, though, noted a lack of experience in some spots.
Fortunately for the Lions, they have an experienced keeper. Berman has been on varsity for four years and is a two-year starter.
In her view, the success at the varsity level can be traced to the New Hope Middle School program and game preparation.
“We put our all into our practices,” said Berman, who got her start in the sport as a sixth grader playing in the Doylestown Athletic Association program. “We’re pushing each other. It’s two and a half hours of giving it our all.”
Conte, too, has experience. She started at left back as a freshman before moving to defensive center midfield this season.
Conte said the Lions enjoy fast-paced games, such as the overtime victory over Springfield earlier this season. Upcoming matchups with SOL Liberty Division foes should prove challenging. Those are the games, she said, that reveal areas where the team needs to improve.
During Smith’s tenure, New Hope has reached the PIAA quarterfinals on multiple occasions. That includes a year ago, when the season ended in heartbreak in a double-overtime loss to Central Columbia.
New Hope has had little trouble adjusting to SOL play after making the move in 2020 from the Bicentennial Athletic League.
The Lions want to be playing into November, but still have SOL Freedom and District One championships to pursue.
“I think we have the potential to go all the way this year,” Conte said, “but we always try to focus on the upcoming game. We don’t like to look too far ahead.”