New coaches should factor into Mid-Shore’s competitive mix
Double-overtime was needed to decide two sectional playoff games on the Eastern Shore last season and this year’s regular season and postseason action looks to be just as competitive. But with six new head coaches among the eight Mid-Shore high schools with field hockey, some new tactics could enter into the fray.
The four Class 1A teams, Kent County, St. Michaels, Queen Anne’s, and North Caroline, will have to deal with defending state champion Pocomoke again this season.
Pocomoke has appeared in the state tournament 27 times, second only to Severna Park (32). The Warriors have won 19 state championships, including eight straight from 2003-2010 and 16 under former head coach Susan Pusey, who passed away last summer. They won a state title again last year under new head coach Brandi Castaneda.
With the high talent level on the Mid-Shore, whoever faces the Warriors in the postseason should be battle tested.
Last year’s top Mid-Shore team, Class 2A Kent Island, a state semifinalist last season, was depleted from a large graduating class, but would like nothing more than to return to the state finals, which are again slated for Washington College. The Buccaneers won the state championship in 2008 and made the state tournament the last three years, reaching the final in 2014.
The Bucs fell to Pocomoke 5-0 in last year’s Bayside Conference Championship game at Washington College.
Here’s a look at this year’s local teams:
Kent Island After graduating 11 from last season, the Buccaneers are young, all underclassmen, and looking to grow. They do return two-time North Bayside player of the year Abby Carpenter.
Projected starters are junior forwards Carlie Domogauer and Emily Keller and sophomore Celina Kaufman; junior midfielders Carpenter, Keelyn Haarhoff, and Grace Boyer; junior defenders Sydney Holtzner and Maddie Hartnett; and junior goalie Hope Wobbe.
“Our goal this season is to grow as a team, learn to play together and use our speed and conditioning to our advantage,” longtime Bucs head coach Jami Wilt said.
“Celina Kaufman was a freshman on varsity last year,” Wilt added. “This year Celina has moved into a starting position. All of her offseason training has helped her grow as a player and we foresee her stepping up as an offensive threat. Sophomore Marissa Plumer is new to the varsity squad. As a defender she brings speed and aggressiveness, which will be key to our young team.”
The past two seasons, Carpenter’s stick skills have been unrivaled on the Shore and she will likely draw multiple defenders throughout the season. The last two years she has been selected to participate in the USA Field Hockey Junior National programs.
“Abby’s extensive training and understanding of the game will be a key to guiding this young team this season,” Wilt said.
Queen Anne’s Shana Corder is now the Lions head coach and Stephanie Kevan has assumed the role of assistant.
The Lions are coming off a successful 2015 season in which they finished 10-4, earning a spot in Class 1A East Region final.
After defeating North Caroline soundly, Queen Anne’s nipped Kent County 1-0 in double-overtime in the Section I final before falling to Pocomoke in the region final.
The Lions return six starters this season. The midfield attack is led by returning starters Mckenna Blick, Gabrielle Corder, and Paige Mitchell. Two returning starters are forwards Kelsey Graef and Sara Walford. Joining them is senior Conner Allen, a transfer from Saints Peter and Paul.
The defensive unit will be led by seniors Olivia Lewis, Josie Inzer, and Madison Jasick. Emily Lanehart will return to defend the goal.
“This is a very strong group which has trained throughout the year to prepare for 2016,” Coach Corder said. “We have confidence that they will be competitive throughout the season.”
Queen Anne’s gets an early test when it opens the season by hosting Pocomoke.
“We have many competitive teams in our division including Washington, Crisfield, and Kent Island that will test us early in preparation for postseason,” Corder said. Saints Peter and Paul SSPP finished 10-3 last season, falling to Worcester Prep, 4-2, in the semifinals of the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference playoffs last fall after beating the Mallards twice during the regular season.
The Sabres lost five seniors to graduation but return seven seniors that should give Worcester a good battle again this year.
New head coach Julie Corson is expecting senior leadership from Megan Beane, Miles Clemmer, Olivia Dissen, Cassidy Fishell, Kate Henley, Madi Marciniak, and Kate Sovero. Notable juniors on the roster are Maddie Boehm, Mattie Conner, Brittany Cummings, Julia D’Albora, Hailey Flynn, Kelley Hertelandy, Sarah Morris, and Maggie Parchman, and newcomer Seth McGettigan.
“Our returning sophomores, Sarah Bradley and Morgan Schisler, have stepped up on the midfield and defensive lines, respectively,” Corson said.
New players to the team include sophomores Madi Morris and Lillian Muckleroy and six freshmen.
“Our strengths are working a small game all over the field — the team meshes well in give-and-go passing situations,” Corson said. “They have an ability to find each other’s stick and move the ball in small spaces really well. Our standout players move fluidly finding open spaces; our attack demonstrates offensive shots that sometimes make me forget I am watching high school field hockey. As a unit, I am excited to see how this team develops through the season.” Gunston
A former college player, Alison DeFino is the new head coach for the Herons, who also compete in the ESIAC.
DeFino coached middle school field hockey for the last eight years at St. Anne’s Episcopal School. Her daughter Abbie, a Gunston graduate, is playing field hockey at Lynchburg College this year. Another daughter, Becky, is a sophomore forward for the Herons this season.