Before yesterday's game, Roland Park's Peggy Boutilier handed Friends coach Carol Samuels a get-well card and a rosebud from the Reds.
The gifts wished Samuels a smooth recovery from Wednesday's arthroscopic knee surgery, but the card read, "We still want to beat you." The rose apparently represented the hat trick Boutilier was about to pull off.
The senior link scored all the game's goals to lead the No. 4 Reds to a 3-0 victory over No. 6 Friends in a rematch of last year's Association of Independent Schools A Division tournament championship game.
Boutilier scored twice in the first half on identical corner plays assisted by Hedy Born. Both times, Boutilier stopped Born's corner pass and fired it on an angle into the cage.
"Peggy has incredible drives," said Reds forward Catherine Passano. "We've been practicing that corner play the last couple of games, and she aimed right in and it went in."
With the victory, the Reds (5-2 overall, 3-2 league) appear to be rebounding from a mild slump. After going unbeaten last year to win the AIS A Division tournament title, the Reds dropped a couple of games early. They have won three in a row.
The Reds seem to have found the right combination. Coach Debbie Bloodsworth has changed the formation to use three forwards and two links instead of three and three.
"With that change, our whole team has become more aggressive," said Boutilier. "We have more teamwork and more passing. Before we would hit the ball downfield and because there were only three forwards, nobody would be there."
Against Friends (4-3-1, 1-3-1), the Reds moved the ball well, forced eight penalty corners and outshot the Quakers, 19-7.
Early on, however, Friends threatened to make it quite a different game. Reds keeper Meredith Shuey made a couple of nice saves in a five-minute stretch that turned out to be Friends' best offensive surge.
Five minutes into the game, Julia Barss nailed a shot from just inside the circle, but Shuey lunged to save it off her calf. After Lydia Reis narrowly missed wide, Cory Pirone forced Shuey to make another fine save to keep the game scoreless through the first 16 minutes.
The half was played nearly even until Boutilier took control. Passano nearly scored on a breakaway, but Friends sweeper Aubin McCarthy was called for a stick obstruction, setting up the corner.
Boutilier scored with 8:30 left. Her second goal came with one second left in the half.
"That was a killer," said Samuels. "Going into halftime, 1-0 is a lot different in hockey than 2-0."
The Quakers played strong defense, especially by McCarthy, back Kim Stude, link Shawny Nellums and keeper Lauren Ellis (11 saves). But Friends managed just three second-half shots, all off its only two corners, and Shuey saved them all.
Boutilier's final goal came on a corner in the second half. This time, she had to dodge Nellums before she could shoot.