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Hill School doubles up Lawrenceville for outright MAPL championship

POTTSTOWN >> The Hill School boys soccer team’s goals never change.

On Saturday, the Blues knocked out two out of three of them all at once.

The Hill put on a wide-ranging attacking display in a 4-2 victory over archrival Lawrenceville to claim the outright Mid-Atlantic Prep League championship for the first time since 2013.

“Three games in, I would have never thought we’d be in the position we are today,” said senior defender Euan Forrest. “We had a lot of young kids step up, had a bunch of freshmen in our starting lineups. Everyone kind of came together. Me and Chuck (senior captain Aidan Sullivan) kept everyone focused during the season concentrating on our goals and here we are with two of those three accomplished. But we’ve still got a job to do in the state tournament.”

The Hill School’s Aidan Sullivan leaps into the arms of teammate Euan Forrest at the final whistle of their 4-2 win over Lawrenceville. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Among those freshmen who stepped up, Sam Beckett scored twice for the Blues (11-7), while junior Zach Barrett found the net in a three-goal first half that gave Hill a 3-2 lead after conceding a penalty kick in the 40th minute, converted by Lawrenceville defender Thomas Ehret. Angus Harron had the Big Red’s opening goal.

Forrest rounded out the Hill’s scoring with a finish through traffic after a long throw-in fell to Beckett, who laid off to the senior leader who this week was selected to the High School All-American Game, being held Dec. 1 in Orlando, Fla.

“That one meant a lot. To score in my last L-ville game is something I will remember for a long time,” Forrest said. “For it to be in the run of play too, and the final goal to end that game, it means a lot.”

The Forrest family has been a fixture of the Hill program with older brother Mark, The Mercury All-Area Player of the Year in 2015, now excelling at Lehigh University (he was named a finalist for the national Senior CLASS Award in October).

“I was riding a pretty high wave going into this game. My brothers who went here set pretty high standards for me,” said Euan Forrest. “There’s been a lot of attention on (Mark) the past couple weeks so it’s pretty special to make some headlines of my own.”

Forrest is the third Hill player to be selected to the showcase after Colten Habecker in 2013 and Toni Adewole in 2016.

The Hill School’s Hale Lombard, left, and Lawrenceville’s Thomas Ehret battle for the ball. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

The Hill graduated more than half its roster which made for some early growing pains and a 2-4 start. But the hard yards have paid off with a 5-0 run in the MAPL and an opening-round win in the Pa. Independent Schools Tournament last Wednesday over Friends Central.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a total surprise, but we weren’t going into the season expecting and confident in (winning the MAPL championship) because of so much turnover – we lost 13 of 21 guys and were playing four or five freshmen throughout the year, which makes for a very different team,” Hill head coach Chris Drowne said. “With so many new and young guys, they got baptized by fire. But by the time we got into league play, it wasn’t a step up. We grinded through some of those results, but today I thought whistle to whistle we were the better side and finished our chances.”

Hill created tons of chances with 12 shots on goal and a hit crossbar versus seven for Lawrenceville. Barrett, of Phoenixville, gave Hill a lead 7 minutes in after Lawrenceville goalkeeper Tait Mott made a throw into a gusting wind and had it played right back behind the defense by Hale Lombard for Barrett, who converted. The Big Red leveled in the run of play through Angus Harron but Hill got back on top two minutes later on a Forrest free kick from midfield that was headed in by an unmarked Beckett. Beckett, of Souderton, struck again with a whirling, wobbling hit into the wind from 20 yards for a 3-1 lead.

“Wednesday we had at least as many chances but only put one in and it was in overtime so I think the law of averages caught up for us because to put four in on that keeper, who I thought had an outstanding match, was impressive,” Drowne said. “The guys kept knocking and knocking.”

The veteran backline of Forrest, Aidan Sullivan (Pottstown), Barrett, Caleb Gerdeman (Wescosville) and Aiden Woolley (Royersford) settled in over the final 40 minutes, especially after regaining a two-goal advantage.

With two down and one to go, Hill – winners of three of the past five PAISAA tournaments – hopes to keeps its form as the PAISAA Championships continue (No. 5 Hill faces No. 4 Penn Charter Tuesday)

“When we started the year, we set three goals: MAPL, Lawrenceville, state championship,” Barrett said. “And I think accomplishing our goals and hitting our stride at the right time, it’s giving us some extra confidence but I don’t think we necessarily need it because we’re playing well right now.”

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