POTTSTOWN >> For a brief moment, Matias Pereiro found himself back in his homeland.
“¿Por qué, por qué?” the British School of Uruguay head field hockey coach pleaded from the sideline with the official during a stoppage on Wednesday afternoon.
Then he caught himself and took a breath.
“For what?” he smiled as he again asked the official.
Pereiro’s brief moment of questioning, which brought plenty of humor to the British School sideline, put a stamp on a tight, well-played international friendly by both sides at Briggs S. Cunningham Field. In the end, the Hill School prevailed 4-1, using a two-goal swing in the final two minutes to put it away.
“This was a great experience for our team,” said Hill School head coach Julie deLaurentis. “It’s not often you get a chance to go up against an international team. They come with different skills. … It’s a completely different way of playing. So it’s a good, fun experience that our girls can take a lot away from.”
Hill senior Lexi Davidson, a Duke commit who has plenty of international playing experience under her belt with the USA U19 Junior National Team, says Monday’s matchup was well-timed considering the Blues are still finding their team identity this early in the season.
“We’ve had an awesome start to the season,” the Massachusetts native said. “We’re just trying to get better now and mesh out on the field. I think going up against a team like this will definitely help us get where we want to be.”
Monday’s trip to the Hill School provided just the latest stop for the British School, making a two-week trip across the Philadelphia area.
“This whole trip has been excellent,” said Pereiro, afterward. “It’s been great being here for all of our coaches and our players. Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming.”
Ty Oliver opened the scoring with a goal off a feed from Erin Kelly in the 21st minute. Four minutes later, Sarah Esserman netted a beautiful feed fresh off Davidson’s stick to give The Hill a two-goal lead heading to the half.
Andreina Alonso netted the British School’s lone goal, knocking one in during a scrum in front of the cage seven minutes into the second half to bring it to 2-1.
The Blues closed it out late in the period, though, with Alexis Grippo knocking a rebound back into the cage with 2:11 remaining and Tony Levesque scoring on his own rebound less than a minute later to finish it up.
The final score proved only to be secondary as the day concluded with a brief party in the Hill School pavilion. There, players and coaches from both teams shared a meal and plenty of laughs.
A little Bit of Rust?
With the game being played by international rules, Oliver and Levesque were eligible to play alongside the girls for the Blues.
Oliver, a standout golfer for the Hill School boys program, hails from Capetown, South Africa while Levesque, an ice hockey player, hails from Quebec, Canada. Together, the duo added an entire new element to The Hill’s midfield. Their speed and ball-hawk mentalities helped the Blues to spread the field throughout the afternoon.
“They’ve been awesome,” said deLaurentis of the pair. “Obviously, they can’t play every game, but they’re enthusiastic. They bring something really special to this team. We knew they would bring a lot to the team when they were with us during the preseason.”
Just over 25 minutes in, Levesque launched an aerial from just in front of midfield. Oliver tracked it in stride, got himself set in front of the cage, then wound up and fired it just wide of the net.
“It’s been a while,” said Oliver, with a laugh, “but it was great to be back out there. There aren’t many male field hockey teams in America, at least not in this area, so it was very cool to be out here playing.”
Levesque took a moment to embrace his first time between the lines for live field hockey action.
“I practiced with the team last year, and I really liked it,” he said. “The mentality is certainly different, especially playing ice hockey with all guys during the (winter) season. It was a lot of fun to be out there.”
Pereiro and his players have been taking advantage of plenty of shopping opportunities around the area during their stay.
“I’ve got a lot more clothes now than when I arrived,” he said. “We’ve been shopping, buying presents for our families and spending a lot of money. I think we’ll all remember this trip for a very, very long time.”
The Blues will host Episcopal Academy on Saturday then play host to another international team next Tuesday — going up against The Guangdong Team from China.
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