Sports Person of the Week
Tillier Helps the Indians Live a Dream Season
Junior Hannah Tillier made the All-SCC First Team while leading the Guilford field hockey squad to a perfect season in 2019. Next year, Hannah will lead the Indians’ as one of the club’s senior captains. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Tillier )
Hannah Tillier has used a combination of talent and determination to become an accomplished athlete with Guilford’s field hockey and girls’ lacrosse teams. Hannah recently completed her third season as a key scoring force for the Indians’ field hockey squad, which posted a record of 22-0 on its way to winning the SCC and Class M state titles for the second-straight season. The junior forward earned All-SCC First Team honors as a result of her performance.
“I’m still surprised at how fast the field hockey season went by,” says Hannah. “It seemed like we were just starting—wondering how good we could be, because we had lost so many seniors from the previous year—all the way through beating Amity in the SCCs and then defeating our rival Hand for the state title.”
While Hannah and her teammates had high hopes, even they didn’t think that Guilford would be as good as it was this season. One of Hannah’s biggest concerns was that she didn’t want the Indians to let last year’s success go to their heads.
“Our motto was, ‘Confidence, not cockiness,’” Hannah says. “We knew there were areas on the field where we needed to fill some voids. We just kept working and getting better with each game.”
On the heels of its perfect regular season, Guilford advanced to play Amity in the final of the SCC Tournament. Hannah scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory for the Indians.
“I can still remember the play,” Hannah says. “It came off a corner where Jaime Neleber took a shot from outside the circle. I got myself in the right position and tipped it high into the right-corner of the net.”
Hannah was named the Most Valuable Player of the SCC Tournament and also the SCC co-Player of the Year with Tess Csejka from Amity. Coincidentally, both athletes will continue their athletic careers at Boston University. Hannah is going to play lacrosse, and Csejka will compete for the field hockey team.
“It was an honor to get the award, because it was something I wasn’t expecting. And to get it along with Tess was even greater,” says Hannah of her Player of the Year award. “I’d gotten to know her, and she’s a tremendous athlete and person.”
Following its win over Amity, Guilford entered the Class M State Tournament as the No. 1 seed and stormed through its first three opponents to advance to a championship showdown against crosstown rival Hand. Hannah netted the first goal of the game in a 3-2 win for the Indians, marking the second year in a row that she put Guilford on the board in the state final.
“Almost everyone in our area knows about our rivalry [with Hand]. Most of our players know their players. Some attend summer camps together,” Hannah says. “Winning a second-straight title was wonderful. Doing it against Hand was even sweeter.”
Hannah scored 22 goals to go with 20 assists for Guilford this year, bringing her career total to 40 goals and 36 assists. At the Indians’ end-of-the-season dinner, Hannah was named one of the team’s senior captains for next year with Madden Cunningham.
“[Head] Coach [Kitty] Palmer pulled me aside right after the banquet and told me I had a new job,” says Hannah. “My work began right away. It’s an honor to be selected.”
Coach Palmer has nothing praise for Hannah’s abilities and work ethic. After making the All-SCC Second Team last year, Hannah garnered All-SCC First Team accolades on behalf of Palmer’s squad this fall.
“Hannah is a very fluid player. It’s pretty to watch how she plays,” Palmer says. “Hannah is one of those kids with tremendous athletic skills, a true hard worker. She’s always trying to improve her skills. She has never once complained about how much hard work is needed to get better.”
Hannah has deep family ties to field hockey and lacrosse. Hannah’s mother Susan played both sports at Duke University and went on to coach at Cape Fear Academy in North Carolina, where her older brother Ben played soccer and lacrosse.
“Ever since I can remember, I was playing lacrosse, probably since I was about two, when I first had a stick in my hand,” says Hannah. “Field hockey came to me a little later, when I entered the 7th grade.”
Hannah has started in the midfield for the Guilford girls’ lacrosse team in each of the past two seasons. Earlier this year, she helped the Indians win the SCC title outright for the first time in program history. During the offseason, Hannah competes for the Nor’easter Lacrosse program based out of New Haven.
“Hannah’s size and speed make her an excellent lacrosse player. You can also throw in stick skills,” Guilford girls’ lacrosse Head Coach Wendy Epke says. “She’s been a tremendous asset for two years to our program.”
Hannah is high honors student at Guilford High School. On top of that, she’s the Student Council president for the junior class, is involved with the Unified Sports program, a member of the pep rally group that increases school spirit, and officiates youth lacrosse games in the offseason. Hannah is also a community outreach worker with the Pilgrim Missionary Group, which spends two weeks each summer going on missions to help out underprivileged areas throughout the country.
“You won’t find a more all-around gifted person,” Coach Palmer says of Hannah. “She likes to be involved in just about everything.”