Rising senior Abby Riley celebrates after scoring the winning goal to lift North East to a 1-0 victory over visiting Rising Sun in last year’s playoffs.

NORTH EAST — After defeating county rival Rising Sun in the 2A North playoffs last season, reigning County Coach of the year Kendie Hudson is focused on 2019 as she returns nine players from last year’s sectional semifinal squad.

“Each year brings a new beginning. This year, we are fortunate to have a team full of positive attitudes who are willing to work hard and learn new skills,” she says. “They are a dynamic and feisty bunch who I have no doubt will give their all this season.”

Leading that dynamic and feisty bunch into battle this season will be All-County representatives Abby Riley (midfielder) and Virginia Edwards (defense), just two of nine seniors who bring something unique and different to the team.

“Olivia Ness, Natalie Dvorak and Kate Hylan will anchor our defense. On the midfield line, Kaylyn Jennings and Kiley Day bring a can-do, never-give-up, tenacious attitude to their positions,” Hudson said. “Jordan Edwards and Megan Talbott bring speed and stick skill to the front line.”

Hudson believes that the Indians’ dedication to the regular season, as well as heavy preparation outside of school, will aid their run at a regional title.

“They have started preparing for the season as early as May. More than half of the team participated weekly in the County Parks and Rec Summer League,” Hudson explains. “They attended intense workouts every Wednesday and Thursday. By the time preseason rolled around, they were ready to tackle any obstacle thrown at them. Hard work and determination is a constant driving force on our team.”

As with any team, harmony and desire is key and according Hudson, North East has it in spades.

“This team has a strong chemistry unlike anything I have ever seen, which is evident in their fluid passing and their communication,” she says. “We will continue to build stick skill and tricks to expand their field hockey toolbox. I have high expectations for this team, and our staff will continue to push them towards success.”

Eagles welcome new coach

CHESAPEAKE CITY — There’s a new head coach at Bohemia Manor, but one who knows the program better than almost anyone else.

Veteran club coach Caitlan Gartland played for three straight UCBAC Susquehanna Division champions at Bo Manor and has been an assistant under previous coach Ashley Christy for the previous two seasons. Prior to that, she assisted Kendie Hudson at North East.

“It’s a huge honor and privilege to be a part of the rebuilding process,” Gartland says. “We’re looking forward to getting back to being competitive.”

Gartland will look to four returning players – senior goalkeeper Sade Barr, senior defender Sierra Shrewsbury and juniors Allison Anderson (midfielder) and Emily Young (forward) – to stabilize a very young team and so far those players have been up to the task.

“I’m pleased with the way they’ve stepped up,” Gartland says of the veteran players. “They feel very good about the season and where the team is heading and we’re feeding off of their energy.”

Gartland has 18 players, 10 of which are making the move to varsity for the first time, so she isn’t expecting any miracles coming off of a 2018 season that saw the Eagles finish 2-11.

“We want to have a shift in culture,” she explains. “We’re working on building confidence and competence because they’ve only had a stick in their hand two weeks.”

Even with a learning season ahead, Gartland feels that the newcomers and veterans can be the right mix ingredients for a successful rebuilding recipe.

“We have some smart freshmen who are bringing competitiveness and athleticism to the field, so we have to believe we can be successful,” she said. “If you have the confidence, know what your role is on the team and where to be on the field, then the wins and goals will come.”

Elks look to build on double-digit wins

ELKTON — After a successful 2018 season that featured 10 wins and a regional quarterfinal win (4-0 over county rival Bo Manor), 2nd year Elkton head coach Krista Klumpp will have an interesting mix of veterans and newcomers, but depth will be an issue.

“I have 17 players on varsity, including five players who are playing the game for the first time,” says Klumpp, a veteran coach with extensive NCAA Division I and Division III college experience as well as high school coaching in Pennsylvania. “We haven’t been able to scrimmage 11 vs. 11 so I come up with strategic ways to incorporate game situations into our preparation.”

Even with low numbers and inexperience (Klumpp notes that some of the newcomers are lacrosse players trying the game for the first time), the returning group of seniors are cause for high hopes, including all-county defender Jessica Moore and honorable mention goalkeeper Alliyah Marshall, whose success Klumpp takes a lot of pride in.

“She’d never played goalie before last year, but she was the quickest and most athletic girl on the field,” Klumpp explains. “We trained her, put her in the cage and she’s done very well for us.”

Captain Riley Easterling returns to provide leadership and versatility along with four-year player Brooklyn Rau and Dinisha Preddie, who provides more speed for the Golden Elks.

With those returning players leading the way, Klumpp feels that health and conditioning will be the keys to another successful season for Elkton.

“We’ve had a year together, so the players know my expectations and routine, which means we’ve been able to move right into working on our skills,” she says. “The numbers will be an issue, but as long as we stay in good health and keep our conditioning up, I think we’ll be a pretty decent team.”

Familiar face returns to Panthers sideline

PERRYVILLE — A familiar face returns to the Panther sideline this fall, hoping to restore the field hockey program to the glory of a fairly recent past.

2016 All-County Coach of the Year Janet Candy is back in charge of Perryville field hockey and is looking forward to the challenge of reviving a program that has contended in the regional playoffs year in and year out.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the girls, rebuilding the program and getting back to where it once was,” Candy said.

Coming off of a 3-11 2018, the Panthers have room for improvement and will have a group of veterans up for the challenge. They are led by honorable mention goalkeeper Shannon Mahan, senior midfielder Anna Gibson, fellow middie Ava Muscala and a newcomer on defense, Olivia Hunsberg. Candy says defense will be key, as well as keeping the heat off Mahan.

“We’re going to start rebuilding with a strong defense,” she explains. “Our best chance for success will be pushing the ball up the field.”

After that, Candy’s expectations are for the Panthers to return to form as far the skills aspect of the game.

“We’re working on getting back to fundamentals and working together as a team,” she says. “That will help us rebuild the program.”

Playoff loss motivating Tigers

NORTH EAST — Disappointment marked the end of the Tigers’ 2018 season, brought on by a 1-0 shootout loss to North East in the playoffs.

With that match not too far in the rear view mirror, 7th year head coach Katie Keyes wants her team to use that loss as motivation throughout the season.

“At the end of the game, we told them to remember how this feels,” Keyes said. “We already wanted to set expectations high, but the girls came into preseason very focused.”

Though the Tigers lose two-time County player of the year Biz Hurm to graduation, Keyes will have a number of experienced players back on the field this season, including all-county honorable mention goalkeeper Jess Rea and junior Kloee Karvois. Joining them will be seniors Emily Ngyuen, Emily Leonard, Brianna Frazier and junior Rachel Taylor.

“It’s great for us as coaches because all of these players are able to step up on and off the field and provide leadership,” Keyes said.

With a solid group of returners on deck, Keyes has already stressed the importance of practice, shaping an identity of toughness that will help the Tigers soothe the sting of last season’s bitter end.

“We’ve emphasized that we want our practices to be tougher than our games,” she explains. “We want to be so prepared from competing against each other practice, we just have to go out and play our own game, be consistent and get back to the overall idea of what Rising Sun field hockey is.”

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