Leach Showing Drive to Win in Final Season, Propelling Hun Field Hockey on Late Surge
Vicki Leach felt things were a little out of synch in the early going as the Hun School field hockey hosted Lawrence last Wednesday.
“We were just playing a little messy, the energy wasn’t what it has been the last three games,” said senior striker Leach reflecting on the contest which saw Hun trailing 1-0 at halftime despite dominating possession. “I think we all felt the disconnect.”
In the second half, Leach made some key connections in the circle, scoring two goals as the Raiders rallied to post a 3-1 victory over the Cardinals.
“We talk a lot about finding the drive, finding the drive in yourself, and the desire to win,” said Leach in assessing Hun’s strong second half.
“At the halftime meeting, we worked it out. We talked about what it was like to win those past games, what it was like to play Stuart, Steinert, and Hamilton West.”
Leach kept things simple in getting Hun on the board within the first five minutes of the second half.
“The only thought is just get my stick on it,” said Leach, who added her second goal with 5:18 left in regulation to make it 3-1 and seal the victory for the Raiders as they improved to 6-3.
“On all of those if you just touch them and redirect them it gets them somewhere. I was thinking I really hope that Julie [Fassl] gets this hit up.”
The win over Lawrence was the fourth straight for Hun since a 4-0 loss to Princeton Day School on September 23.
“I think the PDS game woke us up, you hate to lose,” said Leach. “We played a really bad game. We were playing pretty strong before that so we lost it for that day. We came back to practice and practiced hard and it has worked out well.”
Leach is determined to work as hard as possible as she comes down the stretch of her Hun career.
“Every season I come out of it regretting, thinking oh, I wish I had played harder in that game, and I wish I had done that in this game,” said Leach.
“My goal this year was to never have that feeling at the end of games. So far I have done pretty well. I haven’t been perfect but I am getting there.
As a team captain, Leach looks to be there for her teammates as a scorer and a leader.
“On the field, I try to hang out up here near the circle because a lot of times what happens is the girls will get the ball on the other side and cross it so I want to catch all of those crosses and keep it in the field,” said Leach.
“As much as the desire thing is important on the field, it starts off the field. It starts during the day, it starts at practice, and it starts before the game.”
Hun head coach Kathy Quirk was looking for her team to show more desire against Lawrence after the shaky first half.
“I wanted them to hustle to the ball and be more aggressive in the circle,” said Quirk, recalling her halftime message.
Quirk was not surprised that Leach came through in the circle. “I think with her scoring and us tying it, it just gave us some momentum,” said Quirk.
“She is just a phenomenal kid. I am so proud of her, on and off the field. She is a true leader and she is a scholar athlete.”
Leach’s classmate and fellow captain, Julia Blake, showed leadership in the midfield.
“I thought Julia Blake played a nice game today,” said Quirk. “I think she and Julie Fassl are working well together. She also worked well together today with Delia Lawver, they had some good give-and-goes.”
The Raiders also showed some good stuff on the defensive end as they stifled Lawrence in the second half. “I am very pleased with the way our defense is playing,” said Quirk.
“We have struggled with defense. We have done a lot of talking and working on getting our sticks low and getting the ball out and not in the middle. They seem to take from practice to the games which makes me happy.”
All in all, Quirk is very happy with how her team has been playing over the last few weeks.
“They are a great bunch of kids that works together,” said Quirk. “They work hard in practice, I like their work ethic. I like the way they support each other, no one is screaming and yelling at each other.”
With the county and prep tournaments around the corner, Quirk is confident that her squad can do some great things.
“When we are on, I think we are on,” said Quirk, whose team is seeded fifth in the Mercer County Tournament and will host No. 12 Steinert in the first round.
“When we can score first, I think it really changes our momentum. That’s what we try to do.”
Leach believes that the Raiders are bringing a lot of momentum into the postseason. “We are definitely a very skilled team,” said Leach.
“It’s all about who shows up in the tournaments. If we show up and play the way we have been playing these past few games and in the second half of this game, we will definitely be a contender.”