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By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

The division II Chelsea Bulldog Field Hockey team (6-8-1) hosted the division I Ann Arbor Huron River Rats (6-6) in the fifth annual Play4TheCure game that raises money for the National Foundation for Cancer Research, winning 2-0 on Oct. 10. 

In the first half, the River Rats held much of the possession, with the Bulldog defense digging in to not allow a goal. 

“We’ve had a lot of defensive practice this season,” said Bulldog coach Casey Fry. “We have a solid defensive unit. We work well together back there and have a lot of communication. I think the things we’ve been practicing  this season came together. Passing, communicating, that  was huge, things we’ve been working on all season happened. It was nice to see.”

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The Bulldogs struck just over halfway through the first half. A Bulldog corner was sent in to junior captain Grace Lane. Lane wound up and hit a rocket to give the Bulldogs the 1-0 lead with 10:19 left. 

With 6:30 left in the first half, the River Rats had three corners but the Bulldog defense stood tall on all three chances. 

In addition to sophomore goalie Nina Faupel, junior Kendra Patterson, sophomore Megan Vogel, and sophomore Stella Moore were just a few of the names that helped Faupel keep a clean sheet. 

The River Rats had one more chance, a corner with under five minutes left, but the Bulldog defense held once again. 

The second half was a different story possession wise. The Bulldogs earned and kept possession by winning the midfield battle, starting with Lane. 

“She’s really good at seeing the space and taking it,” said Fry. “She is vital in the center of our field. She sees it and controls it. She holds the center, makes the plays, and when she sees the space she goes for it and takes it. That’s how both of her goals were scored.” 

Lane’s other goal came with 11:39 left in the game. She evaded three River Rat defenders in the front of the River Rat goal with nice ball control and stick handling before firing home a low shot for the 2-0 lead that would end up being the final score. 

The Bulldogs began raising money for cancer research following the cancer diagnosis of program co-founder Roxy Block in 2010. 

Block, who passed away in Dec. 2017, is renowned in the field hockey community for her efforts in launching recreational; field hockey in Ann Arbor in the 1980s, and for co-founding the Washtenaw Whippets in 2004.

That team consisted of high school-aged youth from Chelsea, Saline, Dexter, Pinckney, Father Gabriel Richard, and Manchester schools. 

Today, five of these communities have school teams, and the Chelsea Field Hockey program has evolved to include high school and middle school teams, June Whip-It Camp, spring and fall recreational teams, and Super Saturdays. 

Coming into this year’s event, this event has raised over $10,000 for the National Foundation for Cancer Research. The goal this year was to raise $3,000 and at the game the PA announcer told the crowd over $5,000 dollars had been raised.

Fry told The Sun Times this much money raised since Play4TheCure has started wasn’t something that was expected. 

“It started as just this thing that we did as a team,” said Fry. “It was nice because the Field Hockey community in Washtenaw County is a close-knit community. It was nice we got this program going Huron. They’re friends. And Honey Creek playing our Beach Middle School team… Our team originated as Honey Creek. Honey Creek was the original Washtenaw Whippets and Chelsea formed from the Whippets, it’s a full circle kind of thing. It was cool how we were all able to come together and raise this money.”

The Honey Creek Middle School, Beach Middle School team, Ann Arbor Huron Varisty Field Hockey team, and the Chelsea Bulldog Varsity Field hockey team pose for a picture together after the fifth annual Play4TheCure game to raise money for the National Foundation for Cancer Research. Photo by Chris Hilgendorf

For more information about how Play4TheCure got started, check here.

Photos by Lynne Beauchamp

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