Field Hockey Edges OPRF in Grudge Match


Caleigh Keating, Editor-in-Chief

Loyola’s varsity field hockey team picked up a vital 1-0 win against rivals Oak Park-River Forest on Monday night at the Hill.

Charlotte Burke scored the go-ahead goal in the third quarter, tipping in Carson Pike’s gusty shot in the circle.

In a much-anticipated contest between two evenly-matched teams, the game certainly lived up to the hype. Although Loyola had the bulk of the chances near the circle, OPRF had plenty of threatening moments to Loyola’s defense and goalkeeper as well.

Loyola’s focus was primarily to use the full force of their team to push the ball up the field and create constant pressure on OPRF’s defense in the circle. Loyola put a lot of emphasis on using the sideline as well, working the ball up the field through left side standouts Bella Thoms and Tess O’Bryan. 

OPRF, meanwhile, seemed to stick with a counterattack-type approach, staying patient on defense and capitalizing on Loyola’s mistakes. 

The clash between the two teams was very physical, with falls and fouls abound. For those familiar with these teams, though, this should come as no surprise. Anticipating a physical game against an aggressive team, Loyola planned accordingly, emphasizing playing through and drawing fouls in practice the week prior. 

Loyola also made several personnel changes before the game, including moving center midfielder Carson Pike up to right forward and moving defender Mary Claire Hendrick up to attacking midfield. Junior Izzie Schario entered the starting lineup and proved equal to the task with a consistent game on defense.

Loyola’s preparations and changes paid off come game time, where players thrived in their new roles. Loyola facilitated the ball up the field well and powered through the tough OPRF defense, with all positions playing a key role in the overall game plan. However, the players acknowledged that their execution wasn’t perfect and that there are always elements to improve. 

Senior forward Carson Pike said, “Our defense looked solid and poised, and our runs up the sideline looked better. I hope for next time we are able to get more offensive corners and shots from the top of the circle.”

The significance of the win was not lost on Loyola as they came away from the crucial victory against a team coming off an undefeated performance in a tournament over the weekend. The victory was even sweeter for the returning varsity players, who were delighted to get revenge after a tough 2-1 overtime loss in another very physical game against OPRF last season.

“It was very exciting to beat OPRF, especially because I don’t believe we have ever beaten them before during my time in the program,” Pike remarked.

With the win, Loyola improves to 5-4. Loyola is back in action on Wednesday at The Hill in a 6:15 pm clash against Lakes for Teacher Appreciation Night.