Last season the field hockey team claimed the Colonial Valley Conference, and finished second in the Mercer County Tournament for the first time since 1981. In contrast, so far in the season, the team has suffered losses against The Peddie School, The Lawrenceville School, and Allentown High School, which are teams that players and coaches view as some of their top competitors.
“We haven’t had such a good record so far,” said striker Avery Peterson ’17 regarding the team’s 2–3–1 record. “We’re really looking to turn that around.” The team suffered a 4–1 loss against rival Allentown on September 10 after a season-opening 6–0 shutout against Princeton Day School. On September 19, the team had a 2–1 loss against Peddie.
However, with a 5–0 win over Hamilton West and a tie against Robbinsville, the girls are hoping for improvement looking ahead.
“We’re working on our team chemistry, we’re working on improving all positions on the field … I think we’re just working on becoming one as a team,” Peterson said.
Co-Captain Julia Snyder ’16, a center back, said, “There’s always room for improvement. We can have better marking, in the circle, defensively. Offensively, [we stress] just knowing when to take the shot, [when] to pass, [and when to] just be aggressive.”
With several of last year’s players’ being put on the All-Area and All-State teams made by The Times of Trenton and NJ.com the girls hope to keep up their fitness and skills. The girls have been incorporating new drills and training techniques to better the previous year’s routine. Each position has a different objective; midfielders are working on transitions and fluid assists, attackers are working on scoring, and defenders are working on getting the ball out of the goal circle faster.
“We’re trying to figure out where people fit best together, like we have a lot of good players and a lot of diverse players but it’s a unique situation when you have to place them where they’re going to play best with the other teammates, so that’s what we’re working on right now,” said Head Coach Heather Serverson.
Directly after games, Serverson and the girls discuss the highs and lows of the game.
“We had some problems on defense, and our coach told us that we need to do zone two defense,” Peterson said.
From their losses, the team has also revisited the basics. “The basics are the foundation of the house, and you can build upon that … Hopefully [at] our next game, we can come out with a lot of passion and intensity,” Peterson said.
The homecoming game against Ewing on September 26 is anticipated to be a good opportunity for the team to exemplify this passion and intensity. “I think that if we play the way that I’ve seen them play, the way I know we’re able to play, I think it should be a win for us,” Serverson said.
“We hope to beat Lawrenceville in county’s … to get as far in state’s as possible … and hopefully surpass what we did last year and the year before that,” said Peterson. Last year, the team lost to The Lawrenceville School at the Mercer County Tournament finals, and lost to Warren Hills during NJSIAA Group 3 semifinals.
A team of fairly new varsity players, composed of four seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores, and one freshman will execute this plan. “It’s pretty even, I’d say, but a lot of the girls are new to the team, so new to varsity. [Around half of the team is made up of] new players this year,” Peterson said.
After graduating three forwards, Peterson is the only veteran forward from last year. Co-Captain Trish Reilly ’16 and Georgia McLean ’17 have been stepping up as center midfielders, and Snyder has been leading the defense from last year. With new players, bringing the team together is important both on and off the field.
“Team dynamic is … something the field hockey team has always really focused on,” Snyder said. “As per tradition, there’s always a hibachi night after the varsity roster is announced, and a pool party after the first official team practice.”
In addition to team dynamic, Snyder also credits Serverson for bringing the team together. “We’ve always had Serverson. She is amazing. She really is the soul of the team. She makes us all so much better, and she’s a really great leader,” Snyder said.