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Mercury-Area Field Hockey Season Preview

Boyertown

Head coach: Karen Kooker, third season.
Last year’s record: 3-7 Pioneer Athletic Conference, 9-10 overall (District 1-3A qualifier).
Players to watch: Senior: Lindsay Flack. Junior: Amber Marburger. Sophomores: Alaina Schmid; Nina Caprio; Alyssa Vu.
Outlook: The Bears constantly fall victim to playing in a loaded PAC Liberty Division with the likes of league powers Owen J. Roberts and Methacton as well as Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford. Boyertown was sitting at 8-5 last season before returning to division play and closing out at districts, going 1-5 down the final stretch. This season, they’ll look to get back to the district playoffs, despite the loss of two starting goalies and an injury to leading scorer, Ashley Dierolf. “We hope for exciting play from our seniors including Lindsay Flack, Bella Palumbo, Trin Smith and Tara O’Connor as well as our juniors Amber Marburger and Laura Wigand,” said Kooker. “Our team goals include having a winning season, making the PAC playoffs and winning at least one game in districts.”

Daniel Boone

Head coach: Rachel Hartman, second season.
Last year’s record: 2-8 Berks Division I; 4-12 overall.
Players to watch: Senior: Olivia Cozzone, midfield. Junior: Haley Engle, midfield. Freshmen: Clara Lacek, midfield/forward; Aubrey Newman, defense/midfield; Devyn Brennan, defense.
Outlook: Hartman described the Blazers as “an underdog that is ready to rise up,” which is appropriate given their place in the Berks Conference the last few seasons. With a realignment in the Berks Conference standings, Boone shuffles to Division II, where they’ll join perennial power Berks Catholic (19-5 overall last season) as well as Conrad Weiser (5-11), Fleetwood (3-13-1), Hamburg (5-10-2) and Schuylkill Valley (12-8) with a much more manageable regular season schedule. This year’s crop brings in some talented underclassmen who should gel with the upperclassmen as the Blazers look to replace goalkeeper Katie Dotterweich and forward Sydney Hayes. “We have a very talented set of returners, and a strong freshman class joining us,” said Hartman. “They are working hard and are ready to show Berks County what they can accomplish.”

Hill School

Head coach: Jennifer Weissbach, second season.
Last year’s record: 4-1 Mid-Atlantic Prep League, 13-7 overall (PAISAA quarterfinalist).
Players to watch: Seniors: Taylor Duffany, forward; Isabella Palde, midfield; Tatumn Eccleston, forward. Juniors: Ashley Kling, forward; Alex Conway, forward. Sophomores: Josephine Palde, midfield; Logan Clouser, midfield.
Outlook: Despite graduating two captains and their three-year starting goalkeeper, the Blues look poised to make a substantial run with a bevy of returners along with some talented newcomers in 2018. First-Team All-MAPL selections Taylor Duffany along with Isabella and Josephine Palde all return for a Hill team looking to avenge last year’s 2-1 loss to Lawrenceville for the league championship.

Methacton’s Katy Benton (9) sends the ball upfield while Owen J. Roberts’ Julia Lamb (2) defends during Wednesday’s game. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Methacton

Head coach: Sarah Quintois, seventh season.
Last year’s record: 10-0 PAC; 20-1 overall (PAC Champions; District 1-3A qualifier).
Players to watch: Seniors: Katy Benton, midfield; Molly Frey, goalkeeper; Grace Hirst, forward; Frankie Lucchesi, midfield/defense. Juniors: Rachel Alderfer, defense; Liz Chipman, midfield/defense. Sophomore: Alexa Kratz, forward/midfield.
Outlook: Last season’s run for the Warriors came to an abrupt finish shortly after they finally captured the PAC crown. Methacton suffered its first loss of the year during the second round of the District 1-3A playoffs, ending their promising run well short of expectations. Now, they’ll look to bounce back following the graduation of five seniors from that squad, including All-Area First Teamers Olivia Hoover, Emily Owens (All-Area Player of the Year) and Gretchen Alderfer. First Team goalkeeper Frey returns in the cage coming off a stellar junior season where she posted 12 shutouts and allowed just 14 goals all season while Benton and Hirst should assume a bigger role on offense. “This year’s team has great strength through the starting line but several other players will see significant time,” said Quintois. “There is a great sense of energy and excitement this year and the team is ready for the season to begin. The team has sights on making the league, district and state playoffs.”

Norristown

Head coach: Rachel Shuster, fifth season.
Last year’s record: 0-10 PAC; 0-15 overall.
Players to watch: Senior: Siani Sanders, midfield. Juniors: Bailee Hendricks, midfield; Basimah Curry, goalkeeper.
Outlook: The Eagles’ last win came during the 2015 season — putting them at 0-31 overall since moving from the Suburban One League to the PAC prior to the 2016 season. Last year’s squad was shut out seven times and Shuster says Norristown is still working to rebuild the program. “With little coming from the middle schools and losing some of our upperclassmen girls for various reasons, we are learning to work together as a new team,” she said. “We are continuing on working on communication on the field and skills.”

Methacton’s Frankie Lucchesi dribbles it upfield while Owen J. Roberts’ Rylie Hijosh, left, and Bridget Gallagher, right, defend. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Owen J. Roberts

Head coach: Amy Hoffman, fourth season.
Last year’s record: 7-3 PAC, 17-9 overall (PAC runner-up; District 1-3A, PIAA-3A quarterfinalist).
Players to watch: Seniors: Natalie Fuertsch, defense; Bridget Gallagher, offense; Eloise Gebert, midfield; Sophia Murray, midfield. Juniors: Jenna Kirby, midfield; Julia Lamb, midfield.
Outlook: OJR’s team members have no shortage of experience playing on the big stage with three straight appearances in the PAC Championship along with consistent appearances in the District 1 and PIAA playoffs. Although they graduated five members of last year’s squad, including leading scorer and All-Area First Teamer Bridget Guinan, Hoffman vows that the Wildcats will have plenty of depth throughout the roster. “We have a solid core group returning from last year’s roster who are using their experience to elevate the team play,” she said. “We’ll have some depth this year giving us the ability to keep our legs fresh and the energy high throughout our games. The girls have been working hard and competing every day to reach their goals of returning to the league, district, and state playoffs.”

Perkiomen Valley’s Gabby Martina (3) battles with an Upper Perkiomen defender for possession during Wednesday’s game. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

Perkiomen Valley

Head coach: Erik Enters, 10th season.
Last year’s record: 5-5 PAC; 13-7 overall.
Players to watch: Senior: Gabby Martina. Juniors: Danielle Hamm, Katie Wuerstle, Arianna Martina, Kelly Battinger. Sophomore: Saige Shine, Cristina Dougherty.
Outlook: There is plenty of positivity surrounding the Vikings heading into the 2018 season, especially with the return of leading scorer and All-Area First Team selection Gabby Martina for her senior season. Gone from last year’s squad are Taylor Hamm and Hannah Roerden, but returning are Danielle Hamm, Katie Wuerstle and a bunch of experience all over the field. That depth will go a long way, says Enters. “This is one of the deepest teams PV has probably ever fielded,” he said. “Our bench goes 12-13 deep with a healthy competition for playing time. Our freshmen group coming in is very talented so don’t be surprised to see 3-4 of them seeing significant varsity time throughout the season. Gabby Martina, Danielle Hamm and Katie Wuerstle will continue to be extremely tough matchups for opposing teams and won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season. A really good vibe for this team heading into the season.”

Merion Mercy’s Katie Murphy and Phoenixville’s Gabrielle Herschell try to control the ball. (Barry Taglieber – For Digital First Media)

Phoenixville

Head coach: Claire Emplit, second season.
Last year’s record: 8-2 PAC; 14-9 overall (PAC semifinalist; District 1-AA playoff qualifier)
Players to watch: Seniors: Ameerah Green, forward; Cassidy Kennedy, forward; Gabby Herschell, midfield; Kyra Trafford, defense; Hannah Syrek, defense. Junior: Katie Baker, forward. Sophomores: Aubrie Breisblatt, forward;
Outlook: The Phantoms put together quite a run last fall with a trip to the PAC and District 1 playoffs, finishing just a game short of reaching the PIAA Class AA playoffs. Now in 2018, Phoenixville looks plenty poised to make another run. Gone are defenders Becca Lewis and Tyler Hall, though the Phantoms return the rest of their starters from last year’s squad. “Phoenixville had a very successful season last year, missing the state tournament by one game,” said Emplit. “The team is looking to build on that success. Several starters from last years program have returned and will anchor the team while several younger players develop throughout the season.”

Pope John Paul II

Head coach: Meghan Kugler, second season.
Last year’s record: 5-4-1 PAC; 5-10-1 overall (District One AA playoff qualifier).
Players to watch: Seniors: Madisan Green, forward; Caroline Slattery, midfield; Isabel Ameer, midfield. Juniors: Erin Bell, defense; Maeve Riley, midfield; Nina Mariana, forward; Grace Brady, midfield/defense. Freshman: Kelly Pires, forward.
Outlook: The Golden Panthers competed well in the PAC’s Frontier Division but took their lumps outside of it last season. That said, PJP is a year older boasting a roster peppered with experienced upperclassmen, though the team will need to replace forward Gabby Simms and goalie Katie McGuigan, both lost to graduation. “Our Seniors this year along with our juniors have stepped up their training and are looking a lot stronger,” said Kugler. “Something Coach DeBias and I have been preaching to our girls is ‘positive attitude equals positive results.’ That goes for both on and off the field. With Madisan Green, Caroline Slattery, Nina Mariano, and Erin Bell as our captains, I believe we will have a successful year.”

Pottsgrove

Head coach: Jodi Sproule, second season.
Last year’s record: 2-6-2 PAC, 4-11-2 overall.
Players to watch: Senior: Lydia Mace, inner. Juniors: Bailey Murphy, wing; Jayde Yorgey, wing; Sontee Richards, midfield; Kyra Miller, sweeper; Mikayla Caffrey, defense; Ashley Livezey, midfield. Sophomore: Riley Simon.
Outlook: The Falcons doubled their win total from the season prior in Sproule’s first run as head coach. And if this year’s returners are any indication, that number could improve even more in 2018. Simon emerged as a freshman last fall where she led the team in scoring while Murphy will be one of several experienced juniors returning to the mix. “I’m very excited to see how much the team has grown since last year,” said Sproule. “We have a lot of talent, and we grew our numbers to 40 girls this season. Our focus this season will be to score goals, stay fresh on the field, and give 100 percent.”

Pottstown

Head coach: Brandy Scherer, 13th season.
Last year’s record: 0-9-1 PAC, 3-13-2 overall.
Players to watch: Seniors: Da’zah Regusters, midfielder; Reilly Owens, defense; Jayla Holloway, midfield; Elsie Cannell, offense. Sophomore: Lillian Stirk, goalie.
Outlook: Scherer is spreading a ‘small but mighty’ philosophy within her team as the Trojans look to put a forgettable 2017 season in the rearview with the return of several experienced seniors. Pottstown returns after being shut out 12 times last season, including a run of six straight games early in the year. “Our low numbers create some obstacles but we are really looking to use those obstacles to create opportunities,” said Scherer. “We have a solid core of seniors and we are really looking to pick up where we left off last year with our successes.”

Spring-Ford’s Caroline Todd fires it into the cage to give the Rams a lead. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

Spring-Ford

Head coach: Jennie Anderson, eighth season.
Last year’s record: 5-5 PAC, 7-12 overall.
Players to watch: Seniors: Caroline Todd, defense; Arian Magazzolo, defense; Mary-Pat McKenna, midfield. Juniors: Kate Crist, midfield; Shannon Kennedy, midfield; Angelina Pinciotti, forward. Freshman: Ashley Sessa, forward.
Outlook: The Rams suffered five losses last season in games decided by one goal — results that could have changed the entire dynamic of the season. Now, they’ll shift focus to 2018 with the return of several experienced players including All-Area selections Crist and Todd, paired with the arrival of Sessa, a talented freshman forward who was on the U.S. indoor junior national team over the summer. “We will look to build on the experience gained from last year’s playoff appearance and use it to help us be competitive in all of our games this year,” said Anderson. “We are looking forward to this year and hopefully making it back to playoffs.”

Upper Merion

Head coach: Angie Yanocha, 13th season.
Last year’s record: 3-7 PAC; 5-12 overall.
Players to watch: Seniors: Molly Weygand, midfield; Kaleigh Smith, defense; Nitzy Urias, forward; Rosalee Banks, offense; Kelly DiMarzio, defense; Deann Boyer, offense; Leah Kaczur, defense. Juniors: Olivia Colatriano, defense; Samme Deskiewicz, offense; Danielle Linnebaugh, midfield.
Outlook: The Vikings’ roster is loaded with experienced upperclassmen as the team transitions to its new turf field for home games. “We continue to strive to improve our skills and conditioning,” said Yanocha. “With a big group of seniors this season we hope it will help lead the team to more wins this year. We are also very excited that our school has finally gotten a turf field and with that, we hope to see overall improvement in the team’s skill.”

Upper Perkiomen’s AiYi Young battles for possession with Methacton’s Emily Owens during the first half. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

Upper Perkiomen

Head coach: Jamie Warren, 11th season.
Last year’s record: 10-0 PAC; 19-5 overall (PAC semifinalist; District 1-AA, PIAA-AA qualifier).
Players to watch: Seniors: Abriana Gatto, forward; Morgan Fiorito, forward. Juniors: AiYi Young, midfield; Tori Williams, midfield; Jenna Fiorito, midfield; Carly Eidle, goalie; Michaela Greczek, forward.
Outlook: The Tribe hasn’t lost a matchup against an opponent in the PAC’s Frontier Division in each of the past two seasons, a trend that’s earned them two straight trips to the PAC Final Four playoffs. Now with the departure of four key pieces from last year’s squad, Upper Perk will look to blend some new faces with some of experienced varsity level players, including standouts Young and Gatto. “The players were very dedicated over the summer months and excelled at their team camp,” said Warren. “Our preseason was filled with a lot of hard work, fun practices and building our teams. We are looking forward to the competition we will face this season. Our goal is to continue to work hard at developing team chemistry and succeeding on and off the field.

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