BERNARDS TWP. — Ever since she was a freshman, Avery Hatfield has had it in her mind that she wanted to reach the 100-career goal mark.
On Tuesday, Hatfield scored four times, the last the 100th of her career, in leading The Pingry School girls lacrosse team to a 17-2 victory over Rutgers Prep in the first round of the Somerset County Tournament.
The sixth-seeded Big Blue will take on third-seeded Hillsborough in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Hatfield netted three goals in the first half as Pingry (5-11) built a 12-1 lead, but coming out of the half, she said she was well aware of how close she was to reaching the milestone.
“I knew I was that close and my team wouldn’t let me forget,” Hatfield said. “It was a nice feeling and it’s been something I have had in my head since I was a freshman and to be able to accomplish as a senior is great. Winning games makes days happier anyway, so to get my 100th goal in a game that we win and play really well in was very exciting.”
Four others scored at least two goals in helping Pingry earn a third matchup of the season against Hillsborough. Lexi Chang, Eliza Kielty, Megan O’Reilly and Meg Vreeland each scored twice and Annelise Kinney and Sydney Lieberman chipped in a goal and two assists apiece, to support Hatfield’s big day.
“It’s a nice celebration of her career at Pingry and all she’s contributed to our program. She’s been a leader and I was really happy to see her reach that milestone,” Pingry coach Carter Abbott said. “We’re very young and inexperienced, so it’s taken us a while for some of the younger players to find their roles and place on the team. Because we are so young, we’re still a team that’s getting better. At this point of the season, you don’t see that all that often. Most of the time, when you hit the postseason, you are who you are. You might get a great game out of effort, but you are what you are.”
The two games between Pingry and Hillsborough have each gone to overtime, with the Raiders winning each time by one goal – 8-7 and 9-8. But coming off of a game in which the Big Blue netted 17 goals and looked dominant on offense, the hopes are high to reverse that trend and advance to Saturday’s semifinals.
“We have to stay mentally tough in practice on Wednesday and then in the game on Thursday to beat them,” Hatfield said. “It’s been overtime the two times we’ve played them, so I think that if we work hard, and play smart, we’ll able to get the win.”
Abbott noted that her squad needs to shoot the ball better on Thursday to earn the win, especially after not shooting well enough, in her mind, in the two prior games against the Raiders.
“We haven’t shot well in either of the games against them this year and their goalie played great against us. We just need to handle their pressure too. We need to do a better job of handling that pressure in order to win,” Abbott said.
Matina Kakalis scored both goals for 11th-seeded Rutgers Prep, which dropped to 2-7.