Determined to Turn Close Losses into Victories, Hun Field Hockey Relying on Special Senior Group
GETTING AFTER IT: Hun School field hockey player Ashley Jones goes after the ball in a game last season. Hun defeated Conwell-Egan (Pa.) 4-0 last Monday to improve to 1-1. The Raiders play at Hillsborough High on September 15, host Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on September 18, and then play at Stuart Country Day on September 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Although the Hun School field hockey team went 1-6 last fall, Tracey Arndt believes that the program made some important strides despite the record.
“There is so much more than what they have been showing on the score line,” said Hun head coach Arndt, who is in her third season at the helm of the program.
“In my first year, we were losing games 6-0, 4-0, whatever and last year, although we only played three teams, there were one-goal games. There is the progress that we have been focusing on and not the product. They are recognizing that they have skill and they have potential and they have ability to be successful.”
Arndt views her senior group as a key factor in producing a successful fall.
“They have been great, they have been through so much, all of the seniors have,” said Arndt, whose Class of 2022 includes Olivia Gall, Lynssi Italia, Ashley Jones, Nicole Schaefer, Nora Shea, Lexi Thomas, and Aletheia Watts.
“They got a new coach as sophomores and had that transition. We have one year and then COVID hits so they had to go through all of that. I do think time at home while apart did bring us together. I think they are really mature. We got to know each other a little bit more there, we got to understand each other a little bit better. They are very different in terms of their hockey but what is really special about them is that they all work really hard and they all care about each other very deeply.”
Two of those seniors, Italia and Schaefer, should spark the Hun attack.
“They have done a nice job this year, they understand it is their last year and they have stepped up in a positive role,” said Arndt, who will also be using junior Mia Chiodo at forward.
“We have asked them to have a really high work rate. On my forward line, I end up subbing out more than the other lines because I want them to do a lot of running to get open. They have been showing some good progress.”
In the midfield, senior Jones, junior Mallory Smith and a pair of sophomores, Olivia Kim and Ava Olender, have been showing progress.
“They both held down the center of the field really well last year and have worked really well together,” said Arndt, whose midfield unit will also include freshman Phoebe Thielmann and sophomore Maya Zahlan.
“They are both versatile. While we may have them in the center now, both of them know they can go wherever the game takes them. Olivia and Ava are incoming sophomores who have been doing nice things for us in the midfield as well.”
On defense, junior Sammy Kandel, junior Abby O’Brien, and sophomore Lian Che along with seniors Watts and Gall will be holding the fort.
“Sammy has been a starter for us since her freshman year, right now we look to her to be on the right side of the field,” said Arndt.
“She is very athletic and she is very coachable so that has been great. She is improving with every minute she is playing. We have Abby holding down the center of the field on defense. It was her first year last year and she just has a lot of poise and maturity. We will look to her to lead that backfield. Alethia and Olivia lead from wherever they are with their hard work. Lian has got some club hockey experience as well.”
The Raiders boast a pair of experienced goalies in senior Thomas and sophomore Norah Kempson.
“Lexi is our senior and she really is an amazing young woman,” said Arndt.
“She has been doing a nice job for us and she is also an ambassador for the school. Nora came in as a freshman last year and she is doing some nice things. They work well together. Based on the game situation and who we might be playing, we will be relying on both of them.”
Making the most of every situation is a key point of emphasis for the Raiders.
“We have monthly goals, we have some September goals; we break it down even further to our quarters and halves and winning the moments when we can,” said Arndt, whose team defeated Conwell-Egan (Pa.) 4-0 last Monday to improve to 1-1 and will play at Hillsborough High on September 15, host Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on September 18, and then play at Stuart Country Day on September 21.
“One goal for us certainly is to be better finishers. While we have had really strong defenses the last couple of years, we haven’t been able to put goals on the scoreboard the way we wanted. That has been a focus of ours but doing it as a team. It is really a lot of team offense and a lot of team defense. We are going to be a passing team that plays defense as a team and not individuals. We are not going to rely on one person as we sometimes have in the past to dribble as far as they can. We want everybody to be a contributor.”
Utilizing those principles, Arndt is confident that the Raiders can turn those close losses into wins this fall.
“We focus on our process and how hard we work at practice; we are committed to working so hard at practice that the games become easy,” said Arndt.
“If we can focus on that, the product will come. They are ready for it, they deserve it. They have been on the other side of things.”