The town of Herndon weathered both an earthquake and a hurricane in one week this summer but now it can relax.
It's time for Herndon High’s fall sports season, and field hockey started out first last week in a nail biter against Yorktown that remained even at 1-1 through two overtimes. The game resulted in Yorktown edging out the Hornets in gripping fashion, 2-1. Even with the opening loss, Head Coach Phyllis Pearce says Herndon’s 2011 squad has “excellent athleticism overall” and wants it.
“[Several players] have been playing since elementary school in the Loudoun League and now the Potomac Field Hockey League,” Pearce said. “You’ve got several kids who played in that league who are now coming up and I’ve got some real talent coming through here and now we just have to bring them up to speed at the varsity level.”
The Hornets are ripe with young talent as well as experienced veteran leadership this season. During the team's first game freshman Sophia Palacios found the back of the net to put Herndon on the board 1-0 with 12:33 left in regulation. But Yorktown bounced back three minutes later to knot it up at one-apiece. Herndon came within inches of winning when another freshman, Taylor Stone, slapped a rocket past the keeper but deflected off the post. Unfortunately, that would be the closest the Hornets would come to victory as Yorktown won the game in strokes, which is the similar to penalty kicks in soccer.
“This is a very promising group but we still have to put it in the goal and keep it out of the goal,” Pearce said. “Erin East is our starting goal keeper and she is doing a nice job. Sarah Suter did the strokes and she had one fantastic save that really kept us in it.”
The coach believes her girls have already developed a strong chemistry since the off-season and her three captains; Kelly Pease, Hannah Boysko and Erin Miller have stepped up to lead the team this season both on and off the field.
“Kelly Pease is just really all over the place this year and puts everything into it,” she said. “Hannah Boysko just did a terrific job in the backfield.”
Although the team lost some of its depth from graduating seniors last year, Pearce says she sees her freshmen and sophomores learning quickly and adapting to the speed of the varsity level.
“I see growth in my freshmen and by the Yorktown game they were much more confident,” Pearce said. “Sophomore Rachel Delmontange really has quick reactions in the center field and her stick work has really come along. She is an excellent athlete.”
The team set goals in preseason, and practicing at the high-speed, game-day level of play sits right at the top of the list. The coach said she saw that intensity on the field against Yorktown and her defense proved it can help lead the team to a successful season.
“My backfield, especially Hannah Boysko, Erin East and Bridget Newell are really vocal and on top of it,” Pearce said. “We are really working on communication and reading the situation to adapt to the play happening on the field on both offense and defense.”
Pearce is now in her 21st year of coaching the Hornets. She said communication is always key towards becoming a winning team. And this year she feels her girls have started out on target.
“This group is starting out with a good attitude this year. This is a team that’s willing to work hard and they’re wanting to put the ball in the goal,” she said. “Each girl is working on individual skills and team skills and that’s tremendous when you can see your role because it takes more than one person to make it happen.”
• Editor's Note—Correction: Sophomore Sophia Palacios' name was originally misspelled. It has been corrected.