Field Hockey: Del Val is up for grabs

Chichester's Meghan Wimmer and Academy Park's Memuna Sillah will be seeing lots of each other this year. TIMES STAFF/ROBERT J. GURECKI

Chichester’s Lane Esposito and Academy Park’s Memuna Sillah will be seeing lots of each other this year.

Ed. note: Stats are coming … eventually. Tracking down all of the games hasn’t been easy in the early going, so the stats will probably be posted very early next week and will then be updated on a weekly basis. Thanks for your understanding.

Chichester fired the first salvo of the Del Val season Tuesday when the Eagles blanked Academy Park, 2-0, behind a strong effort from goalie Sarah Murray.

The only problem, though, is unlike, say, the Central League and Catholic League, where teams only play each other once Del Val teams get to see each other a lot in the season.

That’s the peril of having a three-team league (the Eagles, Knights and Interboro), but at the same time, it also means that the league is probably going down to the wire again. Each team plays the other three times, so while the Eagles have the early upper hand, it’s going to be a while before anything gets decided.

“(Early wins) are definitely super important, especially taking the first one,” Murray said. “We really wanted this one and we have Interboro Thursday, so we really need to take the first one and set the momentum in the matchups with them.”

Chichester set that tone thanks to goals from Lora Zybrzycki and Tina Rybak and Murray was sharp in net, but she also had help. I liked what I saw out of Tiff Malin. She made some big stops and moved well to keep up with a pretty quick Knights team. Academy Park didn’t threaten much, if at all, offensively in the first half, but the Knights were much more aggressive in the second half. Malin and Co. made sure it was all for naught.

On the AP side, though, goalie Darriel Bennett made it abundantly clear that she didn’t think the Knights communicated nearly well enough to offset a good Eagles team.

“With communication, we have everything,” Bennett said. “We have girls wide open and we don’t see them if we don’t communicate.”

Defending champion Interboro won’t go down without a fight, though, and the Bucs have already had some early-season nonleague success, something that eluded them last year. Annette Helmandollar scored in the first half to provide all the offense that Interboro needed to beat Harriton, 1-0, Wednesday. That’s bound to give the Bucs momentum heading into Thursday’s showdown with Chichester.

Check out some brief video action of the Chichester-Academy Park game here, here, here and here.

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