Featuring a Battle-Tested Core of Stellar Seniors, Hun Field Hockey Produces Promising 2-1 Start
BE STRONG: Hun School field hockey player Phoebe Thielmann, right, dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Monday, junior midfielder Thielmann scored two goals to help Hun defeat the Academy of New Church 5-0. The Raiders, now 2-1, will host Pennington on September 20 and then compete in the 2023 Max Field Hockey National High School Invitational in Conshohocken, Pa., from September 22-23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Tracey Arndt wants her Hun School field hockey team to adopt a run-and-gun approach to the game this fall.
“I keep talking to them, saying that field hockey has to have a mindset more like basketball than any other sport, meaning that if the other team scores that doesn’t matter,” said Arndt, who guided the Raiders to a 9-8 record in 2022. “I have my perfectionists. It is who scores more at the end and just keep that idea. It is working through playing the whole 60 minutes and not worrying about the score until the whistle blows.”
Arndt believes that she will get some scoring punch from her forward line which features senior Alexa Cavalli, sophomore Addi McNally, and freshman Piper Morey.
“Our senior returner is Alexa; she has really given us some good strength and leadership on the forward line, getting down and gritty up there and is a really big hustler for us,” said Arndt. “Addi is back — she has been injured so we are looking forward to getting her healthy. We have another girl, Piper — ice hockey is her main sport and we are grateful she is with us. She is just really feisty as an attacker, we are excited to have her.”
Hun is excited to have senior Ana Dios, a native of Spain, leading the way in the midfield.
“Ana has such a game sense — it is very European. I think a lot of our girls are trying to take some notes from her,” said Arndt, who got a goal from Dios last Monday as Hun defeated the Academy of New Church (Pa.) 5-0 in improving to 2-1.
“One of her really big strengths is her ability to overlap and swing the play. She works a lot of 2 v. 1s. She passes and moves to get over for the next pass, so because of that she is very dangerous. She is very explosive. She is still working on her finishing at the top of the circle. She is very good around the goal. She is just a gamer as well, she has a lot of speed and endurance. She just flows.”
The trio of senior Ava Olender, senior Ali Ieva, and junior Phoebe Thielmann will be joining Dios in the midfield.
“We have Ava, she is a finisher, we have her right now at midfield but she could certainly give us minutes at forward as well,” said Arndt, who got two goals from Thielmann in the win over ANC with Olender and McNally adding one apiece. “She is a competitor, I am so excited that she is with us. Ali really put in the work in the offseason. She has just come on really strong. Her stickwork and her field sense are really improving, so we are so psyched for all of the effort that she has put in so far this offseason. Phoebe is back, she is probably going to play more of a defensive role. Between Ana, Ava, Ali, and Phoebe we have a really good mixture of speed, game IQ, strength, and attack and defensive mindset. We are excited about that group — they have been working really well together.”
The Raider defense will be spearheaded by senior Ava Che, senior Maya Zahlan, senior Lauren Larkin, and sophomore Aspen Swanson.
“We have Ava, who played back for us last year; she has nice stickwork coming out of the back and a really strong hit,” said Arndt. “Maya has just upped her game in many ways and has done a lot of off-season work with her club team. She is really our field general in the back and one of our field captains. She and Phoebe have been working well together; we will have her in the center. Lauren is one of our returners, she has got some good strength. We have a new girl, Aspen Swanson, who was on the lacrosse tam and field hockey is pretty new for her. She is a really strong athlete and great teammate. She listens very well and just very coachable. We look to use her in a variety of roles.”
At goalie, senior Norah Kempson is primed for a big final campaign.
“Norah has just been a rock star for us, we are so lucky to have her,” said Arndt. “She is a coach’s dream — she just thrives on competition and teamwork. Her growth from her freshman year to now is just great. I just love it, I am so thankful. We are going to take this year and make the most of it.”
With a battle-tested group of nine seniors, Arndt believes her squad can do some very good things this year.
“We have a great core returning; they just need to play their game. I know that is easier said than done,” said Arndt, whose team hosts Pennington on September 20 and then competes in the 2023 Max Field Hockey National High School Invitational in Conshohocken, Pa., from September 22-23.
“We have a tempo that we want to play at, we have a structure that we want to play, and we have a system. If we focus on us and not change for the team we are playing and really come out with what we have been planning as ours, then other teams will have to adjust to us. We will make in-game adjustments as needed. Last year, I think we had a good group, but we sort of played to whatever the other team was doing. We are focusing on us this year.”