PHILADELPHIA--The Episcopal Academy field hockey team played a phenomenal 2018 season. It all began with a preseason trip to Amsterdam, Holland and the Churchwomen ultimately defeated defending champion Germantown Academy in the PAISAA state title game by a narrow score of 5-4 and concluded with a 15-2-2 record.
EA has some shoes to fill this year. Gone are goalkeeper and All-American Caroline Kelly (Boston Univ.), forwards Gianna Pantaleo (Boston Univ.) Maddie Rehak (Bucknell), Annie Rau (Denison) as well as center back Lauren Devletian (Dartmouth). Returning players are senior forwards Laura Null and Kathleen Anderson, midfielder Melanie Lim and Louisa Baxter. Juniors Sofia Acosta and Kelly Smith along with sophomore Macy Szukics, will be leading the way in the midfield.
“We have great talent,” said EA head coach Gina Buggy. “It will be dependent on finding the right positions for the right people.”
After an intense 15-minute overtime and intense shootout loss to EA in the PAISAA final Germantown Academy is looking to coming back strong. The Patriots had a successful Inter-Ac run. With a 15-5-1 overall and 8-1-1 in league record. The Patriots won the Inter-Ac title for the first time in 12 years.
Star center and midfielder Sammy Popper has graduated and gone on to Princeton, no doubt leaving a gap for the Patriots.
“We have a big hole to fill in our midfield with the graduation of Sammy, but a lot of our girls are already stepping into leadership roles on and off of the field,” said head coach Jackie Connard.
“The 2019 season will be an exciting one for the Patriots,” said Connard. “We have a more challenging out of league schedule than the past few years, so we’re looking forward to playing high-level field hockey throughout the season. The team is enthusiastic and-tight knit, looking forward to a great season.”
The Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Blue Devils have also been working hard to prepare for a new year. It is the start of a new era as the team welcomes first-year head coach Emilee Ehret. The Blue Devils concluded with a final record of 7-10 last season, and are confident they will have a stronger team this season.
That goal is well within reach as SCHA has only lost one main starter to graduation, center/midfielder Sarah Edelson (Amherst). Heading the list of returnees for 2019 is none other than senior goalkeeper Shannon McNally who has already committed to Indiana. Seniors Maggie Pearson, Anna Mollen along with juniors Polly Sweeney, and Charlotte Stahlecker are back as well as sophomores Bella Tulio and Hannah Pierce. Caroline Foley along with Kaitlyn Melison are the only two freshmen on the varsity squad.
“I’m really excited,” said Ehret. “Girls are ready to be a force in the Inter-Ac."
Day after day, SCHA has been working out and focusing on fundamentals of fitness and endurance.
“We’re getting physically ready to compete for the entire game,” said Ehret.
The Baldwin School will be playing a JV schedule this season. With midfielder Nadia Dixon as the lone senior on last year’s squad, Baldwin will look to continue to build their program.
Leading the way for this year’s team are junior center/midfielder Alice Zehner and senior left-wing Amanda Yep. Also starting is senior right midfielder Julianna Charles.
“We’re a young team,” said head coach Karen Lancaster. “We’ve seen some good things in preseason. Despite the heat, we’ve had a pretty strong start.”
Not far from Baldwin is crosstown rival Academy of Notre Dame. The fighting Irish had a great season a year ago going 18-3-1.
They too have their share of shoes to fill especially on defense with the loss of defenders Belle McHugh (Drexel), Maggie Pina (Villanova) and Lindsey Barnes (Fairfield). Additionally, they lost leading scorer and forward Lauren Curran (Boston College) and midfielder Jessica Schneider (University of Notre Dame).
Key returnees include senior midfielder Mia Leonhardt, senior midfielder/defender Emily Graeff, senior defender Brianna Odgers, senior midfielder/forward Meg Mitchell, senior forward Vivi Trumpbour and juniors Abby D' Anjolell and goalkeeper Paige Kieft.
The midfield and goalkeeping are looking strong for the Irish.
“It will be exciting to see how the incoming players adjust to their new roles,” said Williams.
Another Main Line rival in the Inter-Ac is the Agnes Irwin School. This marks the start of a new era as the Owls welcome first year head coach Morgan Paese.
Gone from last year is goalkeeper Paige DiLullo. The Owls bring back a strong set of returnees. They are senior forward Avery Niedland, senior midfielder Ciaran Scott, senior forward Hadley Evans, junior defender Kelly Cooper, and sophomores Marissa White, Ariana Karalis and midfielder Lily Botta.
“We have a strong group of seniors leading the team this season along with skill and experience across all classes,” said Paese.
“As a program, we are starting fresh with many changes in leadership.”
The owls are counting on team familiarity and a strong new skill system to lead the way on the field this season.
“Moving forward, our tangible goals will be achieving a winning record, with a focus on improving Inter-Ac League play,” said Paese.
William Penn Charter is already for the season under head coach Maiyah Brown. The Quakers bring back a wide array of talent.
Leading the team is senior Avery Myers and juniors Lilly Avrigian and Kaylee Dyer. Gatekeeper is junior Zora Johnson. Among the rookies sharing their talents on the varsity roster are freshmen, Sydney DelBello, Emilia Malhotra and Casey Jones.
“There are a ton of girls,” said DelBello. “I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of improvement and being able to play on a team with older and skilled girls.”
League games for the rest of the Inter-Ac teams begin this Friday, Sept. 27 at 3:30 p.m.
Germantown Academy will host Episcopal Academy
Agnes Irwin will host Academy of Notre Dame
Penn Charter will host Springside Chestnut Hill Academy