With contributions by Gabe Price
The day started off with a clash of undefeated teams. Pioneer Valley had come into the Amherst Invitational with a 7-0 record meeting up with Watchung Hills bringing a 10-0 record. Watchung Hills started playing a combination of man and zone cruising to an early halftime lead of 8-0. After halftime, Pioneer Valley started to trade points, but ended the game 15-5, Watchung Hills. The second round yielded no surprise results, but gave the second seeded teams a bye before the third round, which would match up the top seeded teams against each other.
In the third round, Seattle and Paideia would be matched to vie for the top seed in the pool. Coming out of the gate Paideia played tough defense, but Seattle with their talented roster and aggressive deep game made it tough for Paideia to respond. Seattle ended up with a 15-7 win to hold seed and eventually clinch the pool. Within the pool, Amherst JV gave Lower Merion a scare bringing them to 13-12, but Lower Merion managed to pull out the win.
In the opposing pool, Amherst beat Watchung Hills with a score of 15-7. Seeding proved accurate as all games played out close, but as expected.
The first round of the second day was marked with wins by large margins for all of the favored teams. This set up the champion’s bracket to match Amherst/Paideia and Seattle/Watchung Hills, easily some of the top girls teams in the nation against one another. In the first semifinal, Seattle contended with Watchung Hills and their gritty defense. Watchung Hills had some success in stifling their handler play, but Seattle’s deep game and their height advantage proved to be too much for Watchung to handle, with Seattle winning 15-5.
In the other semi, Amherst and Paideia played tough defense, but again, the strength of the deep game for Amherst just overwhelmed Paideia. The top seeded Amherst team moved on with a score of 15-5.
This finals matchup for the girls would be the mirror image of the boys, Seattle and Amherst, fighting for the championship. It was strength against strength as they pounded out a long game that began with trading points. Both teams eventually switched to zone, but Amherst’s application of pressure to the handlers eventually paid dividends. Amherst pulled away with a 15-8 victory to secure their homefield.
The Girls division went according to seed and while the games were contested toughly, the scores did not reflect it. The Amherst Invitational as always was a great success due in no small part to the army of volunteers who helped out at this tournament and kept the fields spotless and the teams themselves who exhibited spirited and elite levels of play. This upcoming weekend, many of the teams who played at the Amherst Invitational will be headed to Northeasterns, looking to challenge Amherst for regional supremacy.