The 2017 Villa Maria Hurricanes could put the ball in the cage, often times making it look so easy it was like they were just running drills.
Villa averaged nearly eight goals a game, and while contributions came from everywhere, it was forward Hannah Miller’s 45 goals and 23 assists that led the way. Miller also scored both goals in the Hurricanes’ 2-1 victory over Wyoming Valley West in the PIAA Class 2A championship game.
For these, and many other reasons, Hannah Miller is the Daily Local News All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year.
“My favorite part about this sport is the ability to contribute individually as well as being part of a team,” said Miller. “I am a competitor and I enjoy the high pace speed of field hockey.”
Miller got her start in field hockey back in second grade, playing with a St. Patrick’s CYO team that won a pair of Archdiocesan championships. A well-rounded athlete, Mille has played all kinds of different sports, including soccer, lacrosse, swimming, track, and basketball. Eventually, though, it was field hockey that became her passion.
“I have always loved field hockey but when I started playing club field hockey for WC Eagles, all year round, it solidified my love for the sport,” said Miller.
Her talent for the game was obvious, and soon enough, Miller began attracting attention on a national level. She is currently a member of USA Field Hockey’s U-17 National team.
“It is such an honor and privilege to be able to represent my country through the sport of field hockey,” said Miller. “I have been able to train and play with some of the best coaches and players in the nation. It has allowed me grow and develop as a player.”
Over the years, Miller has played both midfield and forward.
“I have played a combination of midfield and forward,” said Miller. “But I was drawn to the forward position because of my persistence and playmaking in front of the cage.”
This past season with Villa has etched a permanent and prominent place in Miller’s memory. The run to a state title and being part of one of the best teams ever to play at Villa Maria will always hold a special place in her heart.
“Winning the state championship and particularly being able to score twice in the game was an incredible experience for me and something I will never forget,” said Miller. “It was so great to win with my team, some of my best friends. Whether it would be team sleepovers, and talent shows, it has been more than just field hockey.”
Miller and her Hurricane teammates will try to make another un next year, but will have to adjust to a new coach, as Daan Polders has moved to North Carolina.
“Daan has been such an influential person in my life for the past three years,” said Miller. “He has done so much for Villa’s programs and for me as a player. He is a unique coach that has allowed me to make my own decisions on the field and learn through experience. He has left big shoes to fill. He will definitely be missed but he will always be a part of this team.”
Any new coach is going to lean heavily on the seniors to play a leadership role and to help ease the transition period. That role is something that Miller will relish.
“Our goal every year is to win a state championship,” said Miller. “We will be losing a strong senior class, but I know Adele Iacobucci, Mary Harkins, and I are willing to step up and be the leaders our team needs for the strong underclassman. I think we are going to have the talent, experience, determination that a team needs to make another great run to win the State Championship next year. We are willing and excited to take on the challenge.”
Miller, who is committed to Duke University following graduation in 2019, understands that there is no individual success without lots of help and support along the way.
“I would like to thank my parents, Mark and Susie, for encouraging me to never give up and to enjoy this sport, and my siblings, Erika, Nicole, and Matthew, for supporting me and for always being there for me,” said Miller. “I’d also like to thank (WC Eagles coaches) Richard and Jun Kentwell for being very influential coaches for the past six years, helping to shape the player I am today. Additionally, I would not be where I am today without Daan and the entire Villa team, we have shared in a lot of each other’s successes, since field hockey is such a team sport.”