If the prolonged pause of the fall edition of the nation's oldest prep rivalry had any effect on either school's spirits, it was in the form of increased enthusiasm.
The excitement of the fall athletes, fans, families, and alumni from both schools seemed heightened after the hiatus as raucous crowds were seen, and heard, at all five of Saturday's varsity contests.
Big Blue came away with two victories at Exeter as girls' varsity soccer and field hockey defeated the Big Red. While the Andover football had their seven-game rivalry winning streak snapped, Big Blue field hockey extended their dominance of the rivalry as their 7-3 triumph was the squad's seventh straight win over Exeter.
Back at Andover on Saturday, girls' and boys' cross-country served as both hosts and competitors in this year's New England Division 1 Cross-Country Championships (a.k.a. "Interschols"). Girls' varsity cross-country finished in third place and boys' varsity in fifth place. Both junior varsity squads finished second.
In this fall's JV A-E, Andover football (37-7), girls’ soccer (4-1) and field hockey (5-0) earned wins, boys’ soccer tied (0-0) and volleyball lost (1-3).
Girls’ Volleyball opened the day’s competition in front of a gym packed with masked spectators. The face coverings didn’t seem to muffle the cheers, which were as loud as ever in the rivalry. Andover were decidedly the underdogs, having lost to Exeter earlier in the season, 0-3, but Big Blue fought hard and won a thrilling opening set. They almost took the second set as well, but a strong Big Red side took the next three sets and the victory.
Boys’ Soccer played next and fell behind quickly, giving up two first-half goals to Exeter. Exeter added another score in the second half but Big Blue valiantly battled back, producing a few scoring chances. Ellis Denby ’24 (Salem, MA) scored on a precise strike to put Big Blue on the board, but Andover ran out of time, losing 3-1. (Read Coach Escobar's recap.)
Girls’ Soccer took the field at the conclusion of the boy’s game and the Big Blue crowd seemed to grow in anticipation of the day's first victory. Andover struck first as Emily Mara ’25 (Winchester, MA) blew past an Exeter defender, flew down the right wing, and sent a perfect cross to Lily Haik ’22 (Demarest, NJ) who calmly redirected the ball near post and past the Big Red keeper.
Exeter did well to hold against the Andover pressure and the home side answered in the second half to tie the game, 1-1. Big Blue responded by increasing the pressure up front and eventually earned a goal from the tactic. The Big Blue game-winner as described by head coach and Director of Athletics, Lisa Joel: "With just under ten minutes left to play, center back Lola Ademilola ’22 (Jackson, NJ) sent a great ball forward just outside of the 18-yard box. A rushing Exeter keeper was met by Myra Bhathena ’22 (Andover, MA) whose gritty play led to a loose ball that Emily Mara ’25 picked up and blasted into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead. Leading the team with one goal and one assist, Mara was named Player of the Game." (See the game-winning goal and read Coach Joel's recap).
The team’s four-year seniors finished their Andover soccer careers having never lost to Exeter.
Field Hockey arrived at Exeter undefeated on the season and as heavy favorites. Within the opening two minutes, Andover found the back of the net but the Big Red responded almost immediately with a goal of their own to tie it up. It was only the second goal Andover had allowed from Exeter since Big Blue's current winning streak started in 2014. However, the stalemate was short-lived as Andover earned a comfortable lead despite allowing two more goals by Exeter later on in the contest. The final score was Andover 7, Exeter 3.
Andover was named the number two seed in the NEPSAC Class A Tournament and will host seventh-seeded Taft on Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. For those unable to attend in-person, the game will be livestreamed.
As has been tradition, the day concluded with football. Both teams carried one-win records into the clash. Big Blue hoped to defeat Exeter for an eighth straight time, thereby setting the record for consecutive wins in the rivalry, but it was not to be. The Big Red were strong on both sides of the ball and earned a 37-6 win.
Thank you to Exeter for their excellent hosting and competition. Congratulations to the Big Red for their victories. We look forward to seeing them in February for the winter edition of the rivalry!
For the first time since 2011, Phillips Academy had the honor and privilege of hosting the NEPSAC Division 1 Cross Country Championships. Fourteen girls teams and fifteen boys teams from a total of nineteen schools sent roughly five-hundred athletes to race on Andover’s home course, with four different races, two varsity, and two junior varsity, taking place over the course of Saturday afternoon.
Girls’ Cross-Country had a strong day on their home course, racing to third-place overall. Charlotte Whitehurst ‘22 (Annapolis, MD) once again led the way, claiming All-New England honors with a 4th place finish in 19:35. Tiffany Tang ‘22 (Spring, TX) and Caroline Empey ‘22 (Andover, MA) also earned All-New England honors by placing in the Top 20 (17th and 18th respectively). The girls' junior varsity squad finished in second place. (Read Coach Lambert's recap with full results).
Boys’ Cross-Country finished in fifth place overall. Tam Gavenas ’25 (Andover, MA) finished in 4th place and earned All-New England honors. Gavenas reduced his PR, and ninth-grade school record, by four seconds, finishing his home course in 15:57. The boys' junior varsity squad finished in second place. (Read Coach Rielly's recap with full results).