The Morning Call
Emmaus’ Bruns twins hope to go out champions
Madison Bruns has one more competitive field hockey game left, and her twin sister, Mackenzie, might be done after today, too.
It will be at the same venue where the dream began: Whitehall High School’s Zephyr Sports Complex. The Bruns twins began dreaming of playing in a state championship game while watching Emmaus win its state-record 12th title in 2016.
After three years of nearmisses, Emmaus is back in the state championship game for the 16th time in school history.
Emmaus (15-0) will try to win its 13th state championship when it meets District 3 champion Central Dauphin (14-1) in the PI A A Class 3 A title gameat 3 p.m. at Whitehall.
This one will not be easy. The Rams are in the state championship game for the first time and won their first district title this year, but have the consensus top high school player in the country in University of Maryland signee Hope Rose, who has scored 90 goals — yes, 90 — this year, an average of six goals per game.
At 232 career goals, Rose is the third-leading scorer in U.S. high school history. She passed former Emmaus star Meredith Sholder (217) earlier this season. Central Dauphin also has Emmy Tran, whosigned with Michigan, Bucknell recruit Hannah Guarante and Bella Culp (Bloomsburg).
“We’ve definitely heard of [Rose, No. 11] and she’s definitely in the back of our minds, but we’ve been focusing on playing well as a unit,” Madison Bruns said. “We have to stick to our plan of playing as a unit and trusting each other. We have to not overthink and just play how we play.”
“We feel great,” Emmaus coach Sue Butz-Stavin said. “We’re playing for the championship. We’re very grateful to be able to play, that we persevered and kept our mental toughness, which was the strongest thing that we needed to do all season. We had to adapt and endure to play a game that they love to play.”
The Bruns sisters, University of Iowa recruit Annika Herbine, goalie Bailey Tietz (Georgetown) and Olivia Chase are Emmaus’ senior starters. Defenders Kyleigh Faust and Brooke Mancini, midfielders Abby Burnett and Jenna Villeneuve, and forwards Rachel Herbine, Alexis Kociban and Ava Zerfass have been Emmaus’ regulars.
“This group of seniors has been disappointed from their freshman to their sophomore to their junior year, losing in the semifinal round,” Butz-Stavin said. “A goal was to play in the state championship game. They made it this far. They will play hard. It’s a championship game. We know it’s going to be a tough game.”
Madison Bruns is hoping to attend Boston College to study neuroscience — she has applied for early admission .Her sister Mackenzie is looking at big schools in the South — Clemson, South Carolina and Virginia Tech amongthem— to study environmental marine science.
They play on the left side of the field — Madison at back and Makenzie at midfield — and have valued their time together in green and yellow. Madison does not plan to play on a college team. Mackenzie might if her college of choice has a team.
“[Playing with Mackenzie] has been one of the rewarding and special things that we both can cherish,” she said. “We’ve been through all of these lessons. When some things don’t go her way or some things don’t go my way … we do a really good job of picking each other up. … There have been days when I come home from practice, and I’ve been down on myself, and she’s been there for every tear, through every injury. I can’t thank her enough for it.”
The two regularly work together in drills that require two players.
“Emmaus field hockey is a top program and it’s very rigorous,” Mackenzie said. “It’s intense, so having my sister there makes it seem a little less intense. It reminds me that this is high school field hockey and it’s OK to make a mistake. She knows me inside and out; we were in the womb together. No matter what, she’s always there. I don’t know how I could have done it without her.”
Mackenzie is about one minute older, but does not play the card of the older sister.
“It’s nice because you have that family on the field and you have that reminder that when things get so big and so intense,” Mackenzie said. “You have family on the field and no matter what, she’s on your side. It reminds methat I amhome.”