Student News

Lauren Mazziotto Coaches High School Field Hockey Team to State Championships

Chapel Hill News, The (NC)

Glass slipper fits

Author: William Elliott Warnock; Staff Writer

CHAPEL HILL -- After four years of staying home while their counterparts from across town had a ball in the post-season playoffs, the Chapel Hill High School field hockey finally got to celebrate.

The Tigers shut out Asheville 2-0 Saturday to win the state championship. It was Chapel Hill's fourth straight win by shutout and left CHHS undefeated against public schools this year.

"I have a lot of respect for how resilient this team has been," CHHS first-year head coach Lauren Mazziotto said. "They have endured a lot in the last four years and all of the hard work and dedication paid off."

Just to reach the final game at Mt. Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, CHHS (10-3) had to beat four-time public-schools champion East Chapel Hill for a third and final time, 1-0, last week in the N.C. semifinals.

Then the Tigers had to take on a Cougars team that rolled into the championship game at 15-4.

"The final was a hard-fought game down to the final minute," Mazziotto said. "The girls played through some rough, physical play, all the while executing the game plan we discussed.

"They played their hearts out and weren't going to let anything come between them and the state championship."

Midway through the first half, CHHS took a 1-0 lead after Grace Krafte scored off an assist from Sarah Fisher, who had scored the game-winner just one day before in the Tigers' 1-0 semifinal win. Casey Burns fed Rebecca Salman in the second half for an insurance goal.

The CHHS defense, stifling all year, again limited an opponent to just one shot on goal. Keeper Maddie Guidici, who has yielded just one goal in regulation this year to a public school, came up with the needed save to preserve the Tigers' ninth shutout.

The victory completed what team statistician and parent Dan Murphy called "a Cinderella season." And he credited Mazziotto for the turnaround.

"For at least five years, more than the high-school life of a student, CHHS has been 'the other' field hockey team in town, never beating East and watching as they repeated as state champs," Murphy noted.

"Consider this," he said. "Just as CHHS was about to start practice without a real coach, what might be described as 'divine intervention' occurred. Lauren Mazziotto appeared."

Mazziotto, a member of the U.S. National Indoor team who worked two years as assistant coach at Wake Forest University, tried to transform the Tigers as fast as she could. They lost their first two games -- to private schools Tallwood (Va.) and Charlotte Latin -- then fought past arch-rival East 2-0 for their first win.

Before Sept. 6, CHHS had not beaten East for five years and hadn't even scored a goal on the Wildcats in four years. After that date, the Tigers would beat East two more times.

"I'm happy to have the experience to work with such a great group of people," Mazziotto said. "I'm so proud of everything they have accomplished this year. Getting three Ws over East and a state championship -- it doesn't get much better."