Bringing Special Commitment into the 2022 Season, Hun Field Hockey Aiming to Get Better Every Day
OH WOW: Hun School field hockey player Ava Olender (No. 5) celebrates after a goal last season. The Raiders started their 2022 season with a bang, topping Morristown Friends 6-0 last Monday as Olender contributed a goal. Hun hosts Hopewell Valley on September 15 and then plays at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Tracy Arndt sensed something special about her Hun School field hockey team from day one of preseason practice this August.
“The girls came in and they did the extra work they needed to do over the summer,” said Hun head coach Arndt, who guided the Raiders to an 8-8-1 record and a spot in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. “Our base is a little bit stronger than in years past which is a good thing. We don’t have to start back at square one.”
The commitment displayed by her players allowed Arndt to focus on tactics rather than fundamentals.
“We have kids that want to do the work in the offseason, they are calling each other to work out in the summer,” added Arndt. “You just need a couple of those and you can spark a great energy in the group. When the kids are empowered and they help themselves and hold each other accountable, then the coach can focus playing hockey.”
Hun boasts an energetic forward line in senior Logan Frith (3 goals, 1 assist in 2021), senior Mia Chiodo (3 goals, 1 assist), junior Ali Ieva (1 goal), junior Alexa Cavalli, junior Avery Barrett, and freshman Addi McNally.
“We rotate almost six kids which has been nice; we have tried it during the preseason and it has worked,” said Arndt, whose team opened its 2022 campaign by defeating Moorestown Friends 6-0 last Monday as Ana Dios tallied three goals with Phoebe Thielmann, Ava Olender, and Frith scoring one apiece.
“It is not that they are getting pulled because they are not playing well. They are in for their time and they know they can go as hard as they can. They have been connecting pretty well. We have some good depth, the seniors are leading the way for us. Everybody is contributing and once everybody got our running patterns down. They are starting to see the field little better.”
Junior star Olender (4 goals, 3 assists) figures to be the catalyst in the midfield.
“Ava is such a great athlete, we mostly have her in the midfield line right now,” said Arndt. “She is an incredible athlete and
competitor. She brings a lot of athleticism to the midfield line.”
Hun’s midfield line will also include sophomore Thielmann (3 goals, 1 assist), junior Maya Zahlan (1 assist), junior Dios, and junior Elina Csapo.
“Phoebe is very consistent and strong for us in the midfield as well; she is a good distributor,” said Arndt. “Maya plays in that sort of center mid, center back role. She was there last year and played behind Ashley [Jones]. They worked pretty well together. She now sees the field without Ashley, that is a good thing. Ana came from Spain and has a great hockey background. This is her first year with us, she has really connected with the midfielders well. She plays a little bit of a different style, that part is good for our girls to see as well. Elena has been a super hard worker for us, she has honed in on her skills and ability to see the field.”
Along the back line, senior standout Abby O’Brien (1 goal, 1 assist) will be spearheading the defense.
“Abby is back there,” said Arndt, noting that O’Brien, also a lacrosse standout, has committed to admissions process at Stevens Institute of Technology for lax. “She is just really solid and consistent back there so that has been great.”
Senior Sammy Kandel, junior Ave Che, and junior Lauren Larkin will fill out the backfield along with O’Brien.
“We have Sammy who has been playing since her freshman year,” said Arndt. “She is steady back there for us and her softball background has been really helpful. Ave was playing on our left wing last year. Lauren is not new to Hun but new to the varsity program. Between the four of them, they have some pretty good experience in the back which is nice.”
At goalie, junior Norah Kempson gained some valuable experience last fall when she emerged as a star for the Raiders.
“Norah is an incredible athlete and an incredible teammate,” said Arndt. “She wants to get better for her team and in doing so, she really strives to be the best she can be. Her save percentage was really off the charts last year. She is honing her skills and with the returners on the defense, they have that structure in place. It is just working on the nuances of communication and keeping the structure. She has been great.”
Kempson exemplifies the squad’s daily approach to its business.
“The mantra is the same this as what I said last year — to get better every day,” said Arndt, whose team hosts Hopewell Valley on September 15 and then plays at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 20.
“We are able to come in at a better base. We have goals that we have set in order to perform with the challenging teams on our schedule. We are just focusing on what works for us and how we can get better the next day. One of our big focuses is upping the intensity at practice. We want the practices to be so hard that the games slow down for us.”