With Senior Star Albanese Leading the Way, Hun Field Hockey Defeats Ewing for 1st Win
By Bill Alden
Emily Albanese and her teammates on the Hun School field hockey team were primed for a breakthrough as they hosted Ewing in a Mercer County Tournament play-in game.
With Hun bringing a 0-9 record into the October 8 contest, it had endured a rough start to the 2019 campaign.
“We have a lot of downs, there was a lot of wanting to bring things up,” said senior defender Albanese.
The 15th-seeded Raiders got up 1-0 early in the game against 18th-seeded Ewing and never looked back on the way to a 4-0 win.
“It was clicking a lot,” said Albanese, reflecting on the team’s offensive performance against the Blue Devils.
“Once we got our first goal, we built from there and we just kept going. Today, I really feel like we played as a team. We really connected with each other.”
Moving up the field from her customary spot on the back line, Albanese contributed a goal and an assist in the victory.
“It is really exciting; have been really wanting the attack to have their moment,” said Albanese. “I wanted to do whatever I could do to help them.”
Building the lead to 4-0 by halftime, Hun was able to work on some fundamentals over the last 30 minutes of the contest.
“It was good to involve our basic skills,” said Albanese. “We got to a point where we could do our back passes and different types of corners.”
Getting its first victory of the season in a postseason contest was special for the Raiders.
“It is really good for us to have a tournament win,” said Albanese of Hun, who went on to battle hard in falling 2-0 to second-seeded Lawrence in an MCT first round contest last Friday.
“We are such a young team, it is going to show us how far we can progress. It is going to build up our motivation and energy.”
As one of the veterans on the squad, Albanese is trying to help the younger players build confidence.
“I have been telling them to take one step at a time,” said Albanese. “I know for me personally I will be so focused on what I am doing next so I have to think about my pass and where I am going. After that I am trying to calm them down, telling them that a relaxed game will aways be a better game. We can be calm when we have all of the skills that we need.”
Despite taking plenty of lumps this fall, the Hun players have remained focused on improving their skills.
“Even looking back at our record, we still come out to a practice wanting to grow,” said Albanese. “I know that a lot of us want to grow and want the team to progress.”
Hun head coach Tracey Arndt believed her players showed progress in their performance against Ewing.
“With every practice, we are really just focusing on growth,” said Arndt, who also got goals from Ashley Jones, Catherine Argiriou, and Nicki Schaefer in the victory.
“We knew that we were losing some key players, either to graduation or whatever else so we were just excited to see multiple people finish. We had young players out there that were doing some great things.”
Arndt credited Albanese with doing some great things at the offensive end in the win.
“Emily is a great athlete; I told her that she might play a couple of different positions today,” said Arndt.
“She is really solid in the back but I had moved her up. She is a really versatile player so that is why we put her in the midfield a little bit. She reads the game well. She doesn’t normally get up on the circle for us for attacking corners but she has a great hit.”
Hun raised its game at the attacking end, cashing in on penalty corners.
“We have been relying on our defense a lot to defend for multiple minutes at a time; it is very tiring,” said Arndt.
“So one of the challenges we put to our midfielders and forwards is to sustain the attack. If we don’t have goal shots, we are looking for corners. I do think we have a good corner battery and if we can get corners, we can get some finishes. We were able to score two goals off of corners today so that was really exciting to see.”
With Hun, now 1-11, playing at Ewing on October 16, at Lawrenceville on October 19 and at Moorestown Friends on October 21 and starting play in the state Prep A tournament, Arndt is looking for her team to finish strong.
“All I ask of them is that they give their all for the full 60 minutes; if we do that, then the success will certainly come,” said Arndt, who is in her first season guiding the program. “We have six-to-eight games left, we are a one day at a time type of team.”
In Albanese’s view, Hun is laying the foundation to develop into a formidable team down the road.
“I feel like this whole team is new so we are starting from the bottom,” said Albanese.
“We are a young team with a new head coach. We have very few returning players so I think we are progressing. We are going to get there. I know that when I come back as an alumni in a couple of years, it is going to be a whole different thing, so I am excited to see where it goes.”