Brittany Evangelisti's defining moment in field hockey arrived on a November day against Washington Township.

Evangelisti, a defender for Eastern, had to wait 10 minutes on the penalty-stroke line while Township's Lindsey Hatch was being treated for a bloody head injury inside the cage.

Evangelisti remained composed until Hatch was escorted off the field with Township leading, 3-2, and 1 minute, 14 seconds left in the game. Then, the senior center back fired low and to the left, past the outstretched glove of goalkeeper Chelsea Holland, and the shot slammed against the backboard with a thud to tie the score, 3-3.

Eastern went on to win, 4-3, to register a come-from-behind victory and stay undefeated until it lost to Oak Knoll, 4-2, in the Tournament of Champions final.

Evangelisti is The Inquirer's field hockey player of the year in South Jersey.

One of two senior starters - Cori Allen is the other - the 18-year-old defender helped to guide a young team to the South Jersey and state Group 4 championships, the 12th in the last dozen years at the Voorhees school, a national record.

"I was trying to keep my head focused, telling myself it had to be a goal," Evangelisti said of the penalty stroke. "[Holland] knew where I was going, but if you have the mentality that it will be a goal, it will be a goal.

"I visualize offensively. I visualize defensively where I need to force them."

Evangelisti visualized well because she had an all-star type of season for the Vikings, who finished 26-1.

A three-goal scorer in 2009, Evangelisti ended this season with 24 goals and seven assists, which are big numbers for a defender. However, she was also a key member of the penalty-corner unit, with Allen, Stephanie Byrne, Julia Osisek, Kasey Morano, and Jade Dixon.

"It was a good five- to 10-minute wait before she could take the stroke," Eastern coach Danyle Heilig said about Evangelisti after the Nov. 6 win over Township in a sectional semifinal. "Most high school athletes would have folded. She stepped up to that line and tied the game. She demonstrated that she is one of the best players in the state of New Jersey."

Heilig's opinion never wavered, even after Eastern lost to Oak Knoll in a game that it dominated statistically and in which Evangelisti scored the final goal.

Evangelisti had been a force on defense throughout the season, during which she organized the backfield and did whatever she needed to do to get the ball and create a play.

"My older sister, Valerie, played defense," Evangelisti said. "She encouraged me. I looked up to her and wanted to be just like her."

Valerie is 24. Brittany, 18, is headed for the University of Iowa next fall, and younger sister Taylor, 15, a reserve defender, is waiting for a starting position.

"I like playing defense because I take pride in it, and I feel that I do better in it," Brittany Evangelisti said. "But with my offense this year, it has been the best of both worlds."

Alana Barry, Eastern's all-star goalie, enjoyed watching Evangelisti's offense this season. However, she appreciated her defense more.

"She is really a good communicator," Allen said of the center back. "She is really strong, and I feel safe with her in front of me."

Contact staff writer Bill Iezzi at 856-779-3826 or biezzi@phillynews.com.