The senior defender and field hockey captain, a second team All-Main Line selection last fall, is referred to by Conestoga field hockey head coach Regan Teti Marscher as, “Our most confident defender – she is extremely poised with the ball. She is our ‘fly’ on defensive corners, and is the backbone of our defense. Sofia has an incredible field sense and great communication with the teammates, and is a true leader in every aspect of our program.” A versatile athlete, Ries played a lot of soccer as a youth (as a defender) – her father is Lower Merion girls’ soccer head coach Kevin Ries – prior to taking up field hockey as a Conestoga freshman.
Q: How do you see your role as a team leader – on the field as a top defender, and off the field as a team captain?
A: On the field, I think it’s important to set the tone of the game, especially starting from the defensive line. As a defender, I am lucky enough to be able to see every play that some of my teammates may not see from their position on the field, adding a different perspective to halftime adjustments. Off the field as a captain, I try to set an example for my teammates by keeping a positive attitude and being someone they can come to.
Q: Tell us a little about your field hockey training since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. What have you found to be the biggest challenge to your training during the pandemic, and how did you handle that?
A: When COVID hit I was scheduled to go to Holland in a few weeks with a new club. Pulling the plug on this trip was heartbreaking but necessary. As practices started to slow down and most fields were being closed, field hockey training facilities seemed to be slipping from my grasp. I was fortunate enough that my neighbor and teammate Carly [Hynd] has some turf and a goal in her driveway. A typical day in quarantine would involve a workout, then about an hour of hitting balls into her cage and practicing my stick skills. The biggest challenge about training during the pandemic was finding the motivation to keep acting like I was training for a purpose. I handled this by reminding myself that even if the future of the season was unsure I had to live in the now and take everything day by day.
Q: Tell us a little about your start in field hockey. Have you always played defender? What sparked your original interest in that position? Who have been your biggest field hockey mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: I started playing field hockey my freshman year as an opportunity to hang out with my friends and be a part of a high school team. I chose to play defender because that is the position I played for my club soccer team all my life up until I started high school. I never expected to be where I am today in the field hockey community due to how late of a start I got to the sport. My biggest mentors have been my high school coaches. Coach B (Katherine Barthelmeh) taught me the basics my freshman and sophomore years on JVA. Coach Regan taught me how to be confident on the ball and the importance of mental toughness. Lastly, Coach [Karen] Gately taught me how to balance both having fun while staying competitive and focused on the game.
Q: What do you think is the strongest aspect of your game? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: I would say the strongest aspect of my game is my speed and scrappy game play. I am currently working the most on quick ball releases towards the end of a transfer.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: I like to start every game day off with a good breakfast that will fuel me up throughout the day. I always wear yellow Hocsocx for home games and multi-color ones for away games – I have no clue why, it’s just something that always stuck. In the car on my way to a game I like to listen to what my dad calls “pump up jams.”
Q: You wear uniform jersey No. 11 for Conestoga. Why did you pick this number – was there a particular reason?
A: I used to wear No. 7 but when I entered the Conestoga field hockey program that number was taken, so I went for the closest one. My dad’s birthday is Dec. 7, so that is why 7 was my old number.
Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Conestoga other than field hockey?
A: I participate in paddle club, Peer Mediation and Girls in STEM.
Q: What is your favorite course at Conestoga?
A: I really enjoy History and English.
Fun facts – Sofia Ries
Favorite TV show: That 70s Show.
Favorite movie: Harry Potter.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Topanga.
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles.
Favorite place to visit: Italy.
Favorite pre-game meal: Banana and peanut butter.
Person I most admire, and why: “I admire my dad because he was my first coach and has been by my side on and off the field with a positive attitude and mindset my whole life.”
Family members: parents Kevin and Michelle, sister Abby.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)