As Tracey Arndt heads into her second year at the helm of the Princeton Day School field hockey program, she believes the team is ahead of where it was at this point last year technically.
“Our core base of skills is better this year,” said Arndt, who guided the Panthers to an 11-4-3 mark and a spot in the state Prep B finals last fall in her debut season.
“I am able to work on second level skills and ideas that I didn’t think about last year. The girls know what I stand for and what I expect.”
Arndt expects her four seniors, Emma Quigley, Emily Goldman, Mary Travers, and Sarah Brennan, to provide a high level of leadership this fall.
“I talked to them last year and said this is going to be you guys next year,” said Arndt, noting that her 2012 seniors set a positive tone. “They have taken that to heart. They have worked hard on and off the field.”
PDS is expecting some good work from Quigley and Goldman at the offensive end of the field.
“Emma was one of our leading scorers last year,” said Arndt, who will also be using junior Bian Maloney and sophomore Rowan Schaumburg at forward.
“I am looking for her to use her attacking skills. She is a great finisher and a fierce competitor. She is just as fast with the ball on her stick as a lot of players are without the ball. Emily has really improved. We are looking for her leadership up front, especially since we may put Emma in the midfield depending on the situation.”
The Panther midfield will be driven by the combination of Travers and Brennan.
“I talk about Mary and Sarah as pistons working together; their roles as individuals are important but how they work together is even more important,” said Arndt, whose midfield unit will also include juniors Nikki van Manen and Dana Poltorak.
“We are looking for them to lead the younger girls in the midfield. They have abilities and skills but we also need them to communicate and show poise.”
Poise will be a key goal for the Panther backline, which lost three seniors to graduation (Cami McNeely, Zeeza Cole, and Corinne Urisko), and will be featuring junior Morgan Foster, sophomore Tess Gecha, and junior Sophie Jensen.
“Morgan is a terrific athlete; I think you could give her any piece of athletic equipment and with a little guidance she could be good,” said Arndt.
“I told her she might have to take on a new role and she accepted it. She said whatever you need coach, as I knew she would. She has great vision and sees the field well. Tess is playing the right back position. When you are playing forwards who are fast, you need to be just as fast. She has the speed and she has stepped up. Sophie is at left back; we are talking to her about supporting and positioning.”
At goalie, junior Katie Alden (this reporter’s daughter) is stepping into some big shoes as she takes over for graduated three-year starter Sarah Trigg.
“Katie had a good example to look up to last year in Sarah,” said Arndt. “She was put into a lot of situations in our first scrimmage. We needed her to communicate to the other players and she did that. She has been making some nice saves.”
Noting that her squad is facing a tough situation as it lacks depth with hardly any reserves, Arndt believes her players will come together in response to adversity.
“We can’t rely on a few players; we have to work as a team all over the field,” said Arndt, whose team was slated to host Penn Charter (Pa.) on September 3 in its opener and then host Germantown Academy on September 6.
“The wins are important but the growth is more important. Staying healthy is the first thing. We also need to be efficient in how we move the ball and play on attack. We have to be fighters. We need to fight together, whether we are winning by five goals or losing by five goals.”