The Conestoga field hockey team has been one of the top teams in District 1 the past few seasons, climbing high up the Class 3A mountain, but falling just short of the peak.
This year, with a talented mix of seasoned vets and talented underclassmen, the Pioneers planted their flag at the apex, after knocking off Central Bucks West in the championship game for the first District 1 crown in program history.
Sophomore Charlotte deVries, who followed up a very good regular season with a scorching hot postseason, was a key factor in the Pioneers’ success, and is the 2016 Daily Local News All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year.
“Charlotte did big things for us against some of the best teams in the state in this year,” said Conestoga coach Megan Smyth. “Her playoff play was exceptional.”
“Exceptional” might be underplaying it. deVries assisted on four of the Pioneers’ five goals in in the district championship game, while scoring the other herself. She followed by scoring all four Pioneers goals in the first game of the state tournament against Hershey. She finished the year with 44 goals and 24 assists.
“She is a true team player with a very, very bright future,” said Smyth.
deVries got her start in field hockey at the ripe old age of 4, back in her native Belgium, where she played until the family moved to the US when deVries was 11.
“I used to play soccer but I don’t anymore since field hockey takes up most of my time,” said deVries.
Soccer is still big in the deVries household, as her brother Jack plays for an academy squad in the Philadelphia Union organization.
“My brother has influenced me a lot because he is a talented soccer player,” said deVries. “We were always very competitive with each other and that helped me with my competitiveness in the game of field hockey.”
It certainly didn’t hurt to have something of a personal coach. Her mother, Kerry, has coached Division I field hockey at Kent State and Wake Forest.
“My mom was my coach ever since I was little and she has influenced me in ways that other coaches couldn’t,” said deVries. “She always took me out to the field to hit around balls and always motivated me to keep achieving my goals.”
deVries is making a name for herself throughout the field hockey world through her play with her local club, the WC Eagles, as well as with the USA Field Hockey U-17 National Team. Despite having had the opportunity to play internationally in Germany and China, and with an ultimate goal of the Olympics, her best memories in the sport are local and while wearing a ’Stoga uniform.
“My greatest moment in the sport came when we were playing Downingtown West last year,” said deVries. “We had never even practiced the “rainbow” corner before — which is a high flick into the left side of the cage. We played the corner and I ended up scoring, it felt so good.”
The ups and downs and the bonds of friendship forged with her Conestoga teammates are strong, and will last a lifetime. deVries is particularly close to Meredith Ross, a senior headed to Michigan State next season.
“She was my first friend on the ’Stoga team and she still remains one of my best friends,” said deVries. “She would always pull through and score the overtime goals for our team and I know everyone appreciates what she has done this season very much. We work very well together and I’m sad that this was her last season.”
As for the next two years for Conestoga? The sky’s the limit.
“It feels amazing knowing that ’Stoga made history this year,” said deVries. “I am so proud of everyone on my team and we are all so proud that we made it farther than ever before. I think this team can go as far as possible since the friendships and trust on our team is endless. I learned that the post-season is all about who has the most heart and who has the most motivation, not necessarily who has the most talent.”