This year, second year head coach Barb Muench and assistant coach Halley Monforte have decided to change up their philosophy this season.
"We realized we were sort of putting the cart before the horse [last season]," said Muench. "So now we are really working on skills. We are going to be extremely skill-based, which I think will give them an advantage we didn't work so much on last year. We were much more oriented on plays, but we weren't working on good movement of the ball."
With nine seniors gone from last year's team, Muench has a pretty new crop of
"I think that we are working really hard," said Muench.
With only four seniors, Muench has high expectations for her upperclassmen. All four will be expected to take on leadership roles on and off the field. The four seniors - Lisa Klarides, Brittany Parker, Taylor Devlin, and Jessica Dorr - all played on varsity last year.
"They know there are only four of them, so they can't look to another senior to be that leader," said Muench. "I think they have done a really good job of stepping up. The seniors have taken it on and have shared that responsibility."
On the field, Devlin will take on
"On JV last year, I had to pull teach to get people to play offense," said Monforte. "I knew that it would be a blessing in disguise coming into this year. I'm not too worried about that on the varsity defensive side, I think defense will be pretty strong this year. They all love defense."
In goal, there will be a three-way battle. Last year's JV goalie, Cassie Bowen, will fight with incoming freshman Angela Eucker and sophomore Quinn Murphy.
"Quinn [Murphy] is really diverse," said Muench. "She is a field player as well, so that works in our favor. Cassie [Bowen] has been playing in the field as well for the last week. It will help with our low numbers, having a goalie on the bench that can play in the field instead of sitting on the bench."
Muench expects that Bowen and Eucker will fight for the starting role, with Murphy ready to step in if necessary.
"We haven't really determined who our starter is but I know that both Cassie and Angela are both goalie-minded and they want to be there," said Muench. "I think that is great place for us, having people come in and really want to do well."
On the offensive side, Muench is hoping that the switch in philosophy will help the goals come this season. With four returning players in the midfield and attack, that is where the experience will help.
"Jennifer Dorr, Jessica Dorr, Brittany Parker are really flexible between midfield and the front line and that is going to work in our favor," said Muench. "And we have some juniors who have looked really good."
"I feel like the goals will come with better play in the field and that is our philosophy this year. We're going to be better players and the goals will come with that better play."
Muench and Monforte also tried to focus on conditioning this pre-season, running two-a-day practices to get new players up to speed on the game and developing stamina for later in games.
"That was the next piece, we got beat out in the second halves in a lot of our games, so we have been working on conditioning," said Muench. "I think overall the girls have responded really, really well. We seem to be seeing results from the conditioning."
Another side of the two-a-day practices is teaching the game to the up and coming players. Most local players have only played since middle school and Muench and Monforte are working to bring them up to speed on the high school game.
"With our freshman coming in this year, not one player is new to the sport and that's the first time I think has ever happened," said Monforte. "This year at least everybody has touched a field hockey stick and that is promising for the future."
"Because these girls aren't coming with as much experience and it is such a skill-based sport, we have to run two-a-days," said Muench.
The lack of experience on the team has Muench not sure what to expect from the season, but both coaches are aiming for improvement overall and hope for a .500 record.
"We have a scrimmage on Saturday, so that is when we will see, 'okay, this is where we're at,'" said Muench.