Friends slip past Park for IAAM C field hockey title; Sklar nets game-winner



by Katherine Dunn
After falling in the IAAM C Conference field hockey championship game the past two years, Friends  School midfielder Olivia Nengel didn’t want to repeat that in her senior year.
She wanted her team to finally hoist the glass trophy and she played a big role in making that happen Sunday afternoon, leading a second-half rally with a goal and an assist in the Quakers come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Park School for their first field hockey championship in 16 years.
“In 2017 and 2018, I think we had the skills, but it just wasn’t our day,” Nengel said, “so coming into this third season, my senior year, we knew that we all wanted it together and we worked hard all season. We bonded as a team, we have great chemistry and we really just wanted this one.”
In the game played at Archbishop Spalding, the Quakers (11-5 overall) dominated the second half, starting with three shots in a little over six minutes.
On their first penalty corner of the half, Rachael Freeman passed to Nengel, who drove the ball into the left corner of the cage to tie at 1-1 with 23:40 left in the game.
After Park goalie Selby Eline saved another Nengel shot, the Quakers set up for their second corner of the half. This time, Nengel got the ball at the top of the circle and passed to her left where Gabrielle Sklar nailed the game winner.
“We are usually a second half team,” Nengel said, “so going into the second half I felt really confident. We were all hyped. We all wanted to come back and we scored both goals on corners. We’ve been practicing them non stop and we’ve really dedicated a lot of time to them and this is the first time that they’ve been successful, so I think once we got that first one in we knew we could do it again.”
Park (11-3) won C Conference titles in 2016 and 2017, the last one over the Quakers. Sunday, they took the first lead on a penalty corner with no time on the clock as Hailey Smith punched in a pass from Becca Frank.
The top-seeded Bruins had a few other opportunities, including a perfect crossing pass through the circle that no one could connect with. They also pressed for goals at the beginning and end of the second half, but Friends goalie Grace Bowen cleared the ball away both times.
Bowen made a terrific leaping save with about two minutes left in the first half against Frank’s shot that caromed high toward the goal. The senior knocked the ball over the top of the cage.
Friends junior defenders Julia Barry and Bryce Carlin also played key defensive roles in keeping the Bruins out of the goal in the second half for their second win over Park this season.
“Friends has some beautiful stick-to-stick passing which really made a huge difference,” Park coach Kara Hickok said. “They have a lot of speed. We new that going in, but I think we did a really nice job recovering to the ball, getting back on D, but there were a couple opportunities in there that didn’t bounce the right way.”
Friends coach Angela Brewer, in her sixth season, now has a title to match the 2004 B Conference championship assistant coach Judy Turnbaugh won when she was head coach.
“I look in Judy’s office and I see that championship picture that she has from years ago, and we’ve been striving for it ever since,” Brewer said. “This is our third year in a row and we really wanted to bring it home. That was the big driving force.”
IAAM C Conference field hockey championship
at Archbishop Spalding
Friends School 2, Park School 1
Friends   0  2  —  2
Park       1  0  —  1
Goals: Friends—Olivia Nengel, Gabrielle Sklar; Park — Hailey Smith.
Assists: Friends — Rachael Freeman, Nengel; Park—Becca Frank.
Saves: Friends — Grace Bowen 4; Park — Selby Eline 6.