Hun Field Hockey Suffers 2 Losses after 7-0 Start But Learns Lessons Heading into Tournament Play
DIOS MIO: Hun School field hockey player Ana Dios, left, controls the ball in recent action. Junior transfer Dios, a native of Spain, has been a catalyst in the modified for Hun as it has produced a 7-2 start. In upcoming action, the Raiders play at Stuart Country Day School on October 12 and host the Hill School (Pa.) on October 15. In addition, Hun will be starting play in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
After winning its first seven games this season, the Hun School field hockey team tasted defeat twice last week.
While Hun head coach Tracey Arndt was disappointed to see her squad fall 1-0 to Pennington on October 3 and then lose 4-3 at the Blair Academy last Saturday, she believes the setbacks could be a positive in the long run for the Raiders.
“Sometimes losses early in a season prepare you for postseason,” said Arndt. “The Blair game and Pennington showed we can hang with these teams. Blair is good and they are aggressive and so was Pennington. We got bumped around and we held our ground and no matter what the score was, we kept battling. Those are all the things that are helpful as you prepare for playoffs.”
Hun gave undefeated Blair (9-0) a good battle, jumping out to a 1-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and trailing 2-1 at halftime. After the Buccaneers scored two unanswered goals in the third quarter, the Raiders responded with two straight goals in the fourth quarter.
“It was 2-1 at halftime, it was a competitive game; that was exactly what we needed,” said Arndt. “We really felt that we played hard. I really appreciated the grit and the perseverance that the girls showed. At the end, we just ran out of time. We scored with hardly any time left, who knows if we had five more minutes. Their team was very good.”
Junior Ava Che had a very good game for the Raiders against Blair, scoring both of the fourth quarter goals.
“Ava usually plays back for us, she has got nice skills has a great hit,” said Arndt. “Typically we don’t bring her up to the corners because she is a defender and I am always conscious of a transition ball. We had nothing to lose then so I put her on the first corner and the last corner. It paid dividends, she just ripped it.”
With Hun not losing in September on the way to a 7-0 start, the players gained a lot of self-belief.
“The girls had created several goals for themselves this year and one of them was to be undefeated in September so that was very cool to do that,” said Arndt. “Over the last few years, we really had to look at minor, little victories so I think that was a large victory for them. It gave them the confidence that they need. Our league is really strong and our county is really strong, setting that goal and achieving it was really great.”
With the Mercer County Tournament starting this week, Arndt is confident that her squad can do some damage.
“We are in a good spot, I think they are realizing that they can do great things,” said Arndt. “They have to really play together for a whole game. When that happens, good things can come.”
Playing together has helped the Raiders develop a balanced attack as eight players have at least two goals, led by junior Ana Dios with five
followed by senior Logan Frith and junior Avery Barrett with three apiece and junior Alexa Cavalli, junior Ava Olender, senior Mio Chiodo, junior Che, and sophomore Phoebe Thielmann each having two.
“They said that one of their goals was to have many people score, so that part is really cool,” said Arndt. “When you look at different people scoring, it is a ‘next man up’ mentality. Some games, it could be one more than others. We talk about that sometimes girls are just on and the connections are there.”
Junior transfer Dios, a native of Spain, has proven to be a catalyst in the midfield
“Ana has really nice skills, she is a fluid player and a consistent player,” said Arndt. “She has a really nice game IQ, she reads the game very well. I think we could use her as a forward for sure because she has a keen eye to finish. She has been really nice for us in the midfield. She and Maya [Zahlan] and Phoebe have been making some nice connections in the midfield. She really played outstanding on Saturday. She reads the game differently and that has brought a new level of education for our girls. It has been great.”
A pair of seniors, Sammy Kandel and Abby O’Brien, have spearheaded the Raider defense along with junior goalie Norah Kempson.
“We started with two backs with Sammy and Abby in the backfield and Norah as our goalie,” said Arndt. “I don’t think we can underestimate the strength that Norah brings back there. At the same time, with Sammy and Abby, even though hockey is not their first sport with softball for Sammy and lacrosse for Abby, they are just strong. They are really great athletes.”
In Arndt’s view, the Raiders could do some great things down the home stretch of the season.
“Tournament time adversity always brings out the best in people or reveals their character at least,” said Arndt. “We need to play our game and play at a high intensity from the start and focus on what we do well. I tell them they have to walk off the field really proud of how they played and that is a success. That is really our goal.”
Having been battle-tested should help Hun achieve that goal.
“We have been down one goal or two goals whatever it is, all of those little experiences will help us,” said Arndt. “Who knows how far we will get. We go one day at a time and one win at a time but those experiences do help.”