‘We knew that their keeper had really, strong first saves,’ West Chester East’s Tyler Rice on 6-0 shutout against Lower Merion field hockey

Coming off a 6-0 shutout win against Lower Merion Monday night, three West Chester East captains said they think they’ve worked out their emotions for tonight’s big field hockey game against Avon Grove.


The Vikings are looking to try to repeat what they accomplished last year, which was making it to round one of the PIAA Class 2A bracket. WC East fell 3-1 to Crestwood in the first round. Crestwood went on to play Mechanicsburg. And, Mechanicsburg eventually became the Class 2A state champs.


WC East hosted the Aces on their senior night that honored eight athletes. The celebration was felt amongst the Vikings.


“In the beginning, our passing game was a little off,” senior Audrey Argonish said. “I think we were, like, in our heads a little bit; playing a little frantically with all the emotions of happiness, sadness, ‘sentimentalness.’ But, I think, like, at halftime, we pulled it together and worked together. And, our passing game definitely got better.”


The Vikings passing did improve throughout the game. They scored first in the first and then had to adjust to Lower Merion’s defense and goalies. WC East’s attack worked the Aces’ two keepers – two juniors who split their time between the halves – but really couldn’t break them.


While the final tally was 6-0, the Aces’ keepers blocked 21 shots collectively. Not all of them were taken during the Viking’s 21 penalty corners.


WC East favored left circle entry for most of its possessions when inside the 25. Argonish, who plays left mid, was one of the reasons why Lower Merion was having difficulty getting the ball into its attack 25.


“I think we mix it up,” senior Lydia Bechtel said about being in scoring position. “We try to stay on the right.”


Bechtel scored two goals on the night for the Vikings. One in the third and one in the fourth.


Her third quarter score was along the goal line. The Aces goalie was on the ground and was protecting her cage, but the Vikings, who were rebounding and rebounding, figured out they had to move the ball around the goalie for the point.


“Our passing game is our strongest part of the game,” Bechtel said.


As the regular season is nearing its end, WC East is starting to capitalize on the lessons they learn in practice, head coach Jess Rice said. Her daughter, senior Tyler Rice, who used stick work trickery to weave in and out of the Aces backline, agreed.


“We’ve been working all season on getting low and where we’re supposed to be in the circle and ready for shots and rebounds,” Tyler said. “That’s definitely a big thing. We knew that their keeper had really, strong first saves. But, we knew that if we could do what we really needed to do, get on her pads, it would go in eventually. And, they started falling for us when we started doing that and staying low in the circle.”


The Aces were in the game for all 60 minutes and had held the Vikings to 1-0 until the start of the third quarter. That says a lot about Lower Merion’s midfield and defense.


“That’s something we struggle with,” Jess Rice said. “We talked to them a little bit at the halftime about framing the cage. And, I think in the second half, they did do a much, much better job of that. I was happy to see that. My motto with my team is second effort, never hang your head, don’t throw your stick, get back in the game. I think they did a nice job with that tonight.”


The Vikings seemingly have a pattern of being “flat” in one quarter in each game this season, Jess Rice said.


“When I have to be hard on them, they typically react to that,” she said. “I think they did that in this game too. I think we started a little bit flat. And, I think senior night was a little bit of a distraction…they were playing sloppy hockey and just weren’t playing the way they know how to play. They ended up starting to get our passing game together. They gave a nice give and go along the sideline and they finally started to stretch the field a little bit more and connect. Tyler did a great job on the right side. She did a great job of possessing the ball and carrying the ball into the circle. The success of that helped us to turn the game around and the momentum. A little sloppy in the circle; lots of balls that we could’ve gotten into the cage. And, I’m not discounting their keepers. Both of their keepers played a great game. We just couldn’t find the boards because we weren’t placing it. I think once they figured out they had to place the ball around her, they did a much better job in the circle.”


Lower Merion head coach Kylie Kelce said her goalies are “very, very strong.”


“They’re splitting time because they’re both doing an outstanding job,” she said. “Just handling our defense; they usually get their feet moving, and have been doing an outstanding job when getting down if necessary. And, then also getting back up quickly. They both move very comfortably in their pads, so it’s hard to tell the difference between the two of them sometimes.”


While Lower Merion is 0-15 on the season, the athletes stayed focused on hitting the long ball. It worked effectively for them, especially in the first half when they maintained most of the possession in the second quarter. The Aces were able to earn a penalty corner but couldn’t convert.


WC East went 13-5 last season. They are currently 10-4 on the season.


WC East 1-0-2-3: 6

Goals: Rice, 1, Annalise Kubasko, 1, Bechtel, 2, Rylee Ziegler, 1, Arganish, 1

Shots: 31

Penalty Corners: 21

Saves: 0


Lower Merion 0-0-0-0: 0

Goals: 0

Shots: 0

Penalty Corners: 1

Saves: 21 (split between two keepers)


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