RADNOR >> Julianna Tornetta remembers being terrified of the seniors when she showed up for her first day of field hockey practice at Agnes Irwin four years ago.
And so, with the adrenaline pumping, Tornetta went out and did what any ninth-grader would do in that situation: She tried her best to make a good first impression.
“I nailed one of the senior captains in the kneecap with a drive,” Tornetta recalled.
“It worked out,” Tornetta said. “We all ended up being close. I just hope these freshmen feel the same way about me.”
It’s pretty safe to say that the younger Owls hold Tornetta in high regard. The three-time All-Delco is a co-captain, along with fellow senor Jax van der Veen, and one of the top players in the nation.
“Julianna has done a fantastic job as a leader here,” Agnes Irwin coach Alison Monzo said, “and not just in terms of stats, but by being an example of what we expect from the players in this program. She’s everything you want in a player.”
The stats, though, are impressive. With four goals in last Friday’s season-opening 7-2 win over Bishop Shanahan, Tornetta became the leading scorer in school history with 113 career goals.
Yet she is more than just a goal scorer, Monzo said.
“She understands the concepts and principles of attack and defense,” Monzo said. “She also has that X factor where she seems to calculate every single pass, every single play before it happens. She can be five steps ahead of the competition, much like a chess player, but she does it in a way that still incorporates her teammates.”
Tornetta had 27 assists as a sophomore and eight as a junior. However, if her teammates find her, Tornetta is a finisher of the first order, but that’s not a surprise. Call it a family trait.
The record she broke was held by her older sister, Sophia, who is a sophomore at Princeton and a pretty good player, too. Sophia Tornetta was a three-time All-Delco, the 2014 Daily Times Player of the Year and the 2015 Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
Sophia Tornetta was the first player in program history to score 100 goals. Julianna is the second and she accomplished it at the end of her junior seasons. Might have been a little ribbing at the dinner table over that.
“Yeah, there’s a little sister rivalry,” Julianna said, “but that’s what keeps us pushing each other. We might joke around about it occasionally, but scoring goals isn’t the most important thing to us as a family. It’s how you play overall and leading your team to victory.”
Sophia and Julianna have done that together quite often throughout their careers and continue to do so. Julianna will follow her sister to Princeton, which is not that much of a surprise. They’re close and have been teammates for years, first at the club level, then at Agnes Irwin and most recently with the U-21 U.S. national team.
Sophia and Julianna helped Team USA finish second at the Junior Pan-Am Games in Trinidad & Tobago last spring, and will be teammates once again in the Junior World Cup in Santiago, Chile, later this year.
“We’re really excited about that,” Julianna said. “My sister and I are so lucky to have these opportunities again and again. And it’s going to be great playing together again. We have such a connection, whether we were playing here or in the USA program. So it’s nice that we’ll have that connection in college, too.”