Charlotte Latin wraps up second unbeaten year, wins third straight title
It has been an impressive three-year run for the Charlotte Latin field hockey team as the Hawks have claimed three straight NCISAA championships after beating Providence Day 3-0 in the state title game at home on Oct. 28.
While this was the most dominant of the past three years with the Hawks going 21-0 and undefeated for the second consecutive year after posting a 16-0-1 record in 2016, it was also one of the most rewarding titles.
The Hawks graduated nine seniors from last year, but brought back nine seniors to this team who were focused on improving and coming together as a team.
“The senior group was determined and wanted to be very good and very cohesive,” Latin coach Deb Savino said. “Last year there were times where they felt like they weren’t as cohesive as they should have been, so this group was about working more as a team. This crew really pushed each other to move forward.”
That came in handy during a mid-season period where Savino said her team was slumping on offense and not living up to its potential on the defensive side of the field.
During a four-game stretch in September, the Hawks won two games by a single goal and other by two scores, but that’s when the defense started to really come together.
“It was pretty unbelievable. They worked really hard,” Savino said. “When we were struggling, they all realized that, ‘Hey, this is because we’re just being lazy.’ It was all about the group not pushing themselves and doing what they needed to do, so the transformation this year was really fun to watch.
“Overall the defense definitely progressed from that point. There was a time where they didn’t get back on defense as well as they should have and sort of watched the defenders do it, but then they figured it out. Once the midfielders began playing both ends, they really bought into the concept of team defense and getting back and helping out and that helped us generate our offense, too.”
The Hawks top defenders included
Sutton Orndorff, Gia Colombo, Cecelia Monnin and Myah Pease and freshman goalkeeper Grace Crutchfield. Together that unit allowed just 17 goals on the year.
The offense was led by leading scorers Caroline Balogh, Caroline Juckett, Monnin and Annabelle Oats, who combined to score 73 goals and dish out 52 assists for a team that averaged more than five goals per game.
In the championship game, the Hawks had to play rival Providence Day for the fourth time this season.
Latin had won the previous three games, taking 5-2, 3-2 and 4-1 victories, but Savino said coming in her team was focused and confident.
The Hawks got going with two first half goals and had goals from Balogh, Juckett and Monnin in the championship game, but it was the defense that was the difference, much to the delight of Savino.
“Providence Day had played us in one tight game on our field when we were struggling a little bit and being lazy earlier in the season,” she said. “In the championship, the defense was so much more controlled and confident. They were in the right place at the right time, they were talking and communicating and in total control. That led to us getting some fast breaks on offense to score the goals and get the confidence and control the game in the second half, which is what we were able to do.”
The state championship is the third straight and fifth under Savino, who has coached the Hawks since 2008. She also guided Hawks championship teams in 2010 and 2011. It is the seventh state title in program history.