Field Hockey Player of the Year: Paolino giving her best sport her best shot

NEWTOWN SQUARE >> Margaux Paolino always enjoyed playing three sports.

“When I was at Rosemont School of the Holy Child, I played field hockey, basketball and lacrosse,” the Episcopal Academy senior said. “I always thought I would go on to college as a basketball player.”

When she enrolled at EA as a ninth-grader, she continued to play field hockey and basketball, but turned her attention in the spring to track and field.

Episcopal Academy's Margaux Paolino is the 2015 Daily Times Field Hockey Player of the Year. (Times Staff/Rick Kauffman)
Episcopal Academy’s Margaux Paolino is the 2015 Daily Times Field Hockey Player of the Year. (Times Staff/Rick Kauffman)

Her primary focus also turned to field hockey, which she began playing year-round, first with the WC Eagles Club team and then with the XCalibur squad, two of the top hockey organizations in the area.

She attracted the attention of those responsible for choosing the players who represent the United States in international competition as well as coaches from the top Division I programs in the country.

As if her resumé wasn’t strong enough, she added several lines this fall, including one that tells how she was one of the captains of an undefeated state championship squad.

Another line will note that she has been named 2015 Daily Times Field Hockey Player of the Year, heading up the All-Delco team, which was selected by the Daily Times in consultation with area coaches.

Joining Paolino on the 2015 All-Delco team are her Episcopal Academy teammates Maddie Bacskai, Courtnie Williamson and Corrine Zanolli, Juilianna Tornetta and Rosie Kalis of Agnes Irwin, The Academy of Notre Dame’s Quinn Maguire and Mary Kate Neff, Makayla Gallen of Cardinal O’Hara, Archbishop Carroll’s Sam Swart, Riley Dolan of Bonner-Prendergast and Tess Horan of Haverford High.

Paolino and Tornetta are three-time All-Delco selections while Bacskai, Maguire, Gallen and Dolan were named to the team for the second consecutive year.

Zanolli, Tornetta, Maguire, Neff, Gallen, Swart and Dolan are juniors. The other All-Delco players are seniors.
Episcopal Academy won the Pennsylvania Independent Schools championship for the third time in four years, beating Agnes Irwin in the 2015 final, 4-0, after claiming wins over Notre Dame in 2012 and 2014.

In the title match last month, Zanolli scored three goals, the second assisted by Paolino.

“We had high expectations coming into the season,” Paolino said. “We knew this was a good team, and there were goals we had in mind.

“As the season went on, everyone wanted to finish on a high note, especially the seniors.”

Against Agnes Irwin in the state championship match, EA had a 1-0 halftime lead.

“We weren’t playing all that well,” said Paolino, a Villanova resident. “(Head coach Gina Buggy) knew what we needed, and gave us a real inspirational talk at halftime. And then we had a good second half.”

Paolino understands that she will be stepping up to another level in 2016. In addition to trying to make the United States U-21 team, she will begin her college career at Duke University, the school she chose after also considering Northwestern and Penn State.

“Things were always so much fun in high school,” she said. “As soon as we graduate in June, I’ll have to start getting ready for summer school (at Duke), which begins June 21.

“I know I’ll be nervous about going away. I’m working on building up my confidence. It might not look it, but sometimes I’m not as confident as I should be, especially in the first five minutes of the big games.”

Margaux Paolino was one of the captains on Episcopal Academy’s undefeated PAISAA championship team this fall. Her coach Gina Buggy says simply, ‘Margaux is one of the most-talented high school players I have seen in 30 years.’ (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
Margaux Paolino was one of the captains on Episcopal Academy’s undefeated PAISAA championship team this fall. Her coach Gina Buggy says simply, ‘Margaux is one of the most-talented high school players I have seen in 30 years.’ (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

Her confidence level had to grow last week when she was notified that she would be one of the players who would be competing against a touring team from Japan at the Spooky Nook sports complex in Manheim.

“The game was at 9 o’clock Friday morning,” Paolino said. “That was a little tough playing that early when it was still so cold outside. We had some transitional players and players from the U-21 team. We lost, 3-1, but it was a great experience.”

Next month, Paolino will be among those returning to Spooky Nook to compete against a team from Great Britain.

Then come final selections for the U-21 team that will be playing in Trinidad & Tobago in March in the Junior World Cup qualifying.

If she makes the U-21 team, she will be playing in the Junior World Cup tournament in Chile.

Over the years, she has played internationally in indoors matches in Argentina and Germany as well as outdoor matches in Holland and Uruguay.

She still manages to maintain a rigorous academic schedule that includes courses in British Literature, Global Economics and Advanced Placement Environmental Studies. She also enjoys painting in her Honors Art course.

“I’ve learned about making the best use of my time,” she said.

She is the point guard for the basketball team and was named most valuable athlete at the 2014 Inter-Ac League track and field championship meet. She also has found time to work with the school’s Athletic Association, the Spirit Week committee and the Open Mike program as well as taking part in the Can Drive to collect food for the needy and serving as a Special Olympics volunteer.

Recently, she was one of the high school seniors named by the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame’s Delaware County Chapter as a fall sports scholar-athlete award winner.

Paolino and her twin brother, Matthew, who attends The Haverford School, have an older sister, Emily, who is a graduate of Villanova University, and a younger brother, Thomas, an eighth-grade soccer player at St. Aloysius Academy.

“My older sister had played field hockey,” Paolino said. “When I got the chance to play, I really loved it.”

She played AAU basketball for the Comets under former Episcopal Academy assistant coach Fran Burbidge, who is in his third season as girls head basketball coach at Bishop Shanahan High.

“I really enjoyed playing for his team,” Paolino said. “I wish we were playing against (Bishop Shanhan) this year.
“We do play teams like Archbishop Carroll, and then in our league we always know we’ll have tough games with Notre Dame and Germantown Academy.”

Paolino was an All-Inter-Ac first team selection in field hockey for four years. This fall, as her team’s center midfielder, she scored 18 goals and added 14 assists.

In the three previous seasons, when she was playing forward, she scored more than 20 goals each year.

“She’s a natural forward,” said Buggy, who was a field hockey and lacrosse All-American at Ursinus College and a member of the United States hockey team that was bronze medalist in the 1984 Olympic Games. “But our team needed her skill in the midfield, and from that position she still scored, assisted and dominated in the midfield.

“Margaux is one of the most-talented high school players I have seen in 30 years. Her stick skills and advanced passing, receiving and shooting skills far exceed the high school level.”

Paolino has not decided on a course of study for her four years at Duke.

“There are times when I think I want to go into medicine,” she said. “And then sometimes I think about what it would like to go into television.”

She does have one thing she would like to accomplish early in her field hockey career at Duke, where Christy Palazzese, her teammate on the 2014 state championship team at EA, is a member of the field hockey team.

This fall, Duke advanced to the Division I national semifinal round before dropping a 2-0 decision to North Carolina, which is coached by Marple Newtown graduate Karen Shelton, who was Buggy’s 1984 Olympic teammate.

“Within two years I want us to win the national championship,” said Paolino, who isn’t used to watching an opponent celebrate victory after the final game of postseason play.

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