Field Hockey: Watterson defeats Hudson to win state title

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group

After falling decisively to Hudson in a regular-season game a little more than a month ago, the Watterson field hockey team returned the favor in the state title game Nov. 7 at Thomas Worthington.

The Eagles scored the game’s first goal midway through the first period and pressured the Explorers throughout as they won 3-0 to capture their fourth state championship and finish the season 18-3.

Hudson, which beat Watterson 4-1 on Oct. 3, became a state runner-up for the 10th time and finished 17-4. It has won three state titles, with the last one coming in 1996.

“The first game we played them, we had played New Albany the night before in a very close match and had to get up early in the morning and get to Hudson,” Watterson coach Janet Baird said. “Then we had Thomas (after that), so we just had a rough three-game stretch. After that we kind of regrouped.”

Baird, who is in her 25th season, also led the program to state titles in 2005 and 2009.

Watterson's Lauren Neutzling (11) and Anne Marie Ruess (9) rush to celebrate with teammate Claire Sugar (20) after a goal scored against Hudson in the state final Nov. 7 at Thomas Worthington.

The Eagles took a 1-0 lead with 7 minutes, 17 seconds to go in the first period on a goal by Alex Picolo. The play was set up when Picolo took a penalty corner and passed it to Molly Griffith, who then hit it toward the goal and Picolo deflected it in.

“The first team to score is always a big motivation because you have the lead, but we didn’t stop playing after that and that’s what allowed us to get two goals right away (in the third period),” Picolo said.

The Explorers nearly tied it with 1:26 left in the first half on a Brooke Buchanan shot that went just over the left corner of the net.

Watterson made it 2-0 with 12:21 remaining in the third period on a goal by Cailin O’Reilly following a penalty corner. Anne Marie Ruess and Zoe Coleman were credited with assists.

“We haven’t put in our corners all year,” Coleman said. “That was so good.”

Then with 8:28 to go in the third, Picolo's shot on a fast break was deflected by Hudson goalie Hailey Nagaj, but Coleman was there to slap it in on the rebound.

Caroline Dunham made saves on both of Hudson’s shots on goal. Nagaj finished with 10 saves.

“We didn’t focus on the previous game (against Watterson),” Hudson coach Louise Knox said. “The girls played really hard and I think the competition was as hard as we expected. (We) played with heart and grit and left it all out on the field.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

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>>MORE COVERAGE: Watterson edges Columbus Academy in state semifinal<<