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FSL Field Hockey: Ablin Sisters Are a Great Bet for Germantown Friends

By Mark Zimmaro (Photos by Mark Zimmaro), 09/18/23, 11:30AM EDT


By: Mark Zimmaro

PHILADELPHIA - Isla Ablin assumed it was a pretty safe bet. 

The Germantown Friends School senior captain and 2022 All-Friends League Honorable Mention has played a lot of field hockey over the years and she was excited to play her first game with freshman sister Lexi Ablin. Lexi had never played the sport before but had worked hard to make the team. Lexi then bet her sister that she’d score a goal in her first ever field hockey game.

It would be a pretty incredible long shot, right? 

“We had a bet going, that if she scored I would give her $50 and I didn’t think she would score,” Isla said. “And then she scored twice. It was definitely not what I was expecting.”

Two goals calculate to $100.

“Yup,” Lexi said with a great big smile. “From her.”

They weren’t meaningless goals, either. The Tigers braved the heat on Sept. 8 and traveled to Archbishop Ryan for a non league game to open the season. Lexi scored twice in a 4-0 victory with one goal coming in each half. It was detrimental to Isla’s wallet, but great for team morale.

“I’m happy she scored,” Isla said. “It was really unexpected and we’re really excited that she is scoring and making a big impact so early on. I’ll pay the $100.”

Germantown Friends has endured a recent rough stretch of years in FSL play, going 0-7-1 last season in the league and 2-9-1 overall. 

The bet between Germantown Friends sisters Isla and Lexi Ablin

They’ve had four ties in the last five seasons but the Tigers’ last FSL victory was in 2016 during a 2-6 season. Germantown Friends graduated zero seniors last year and an infusion of young talent has raised expectations in the Tigers’ locker room. They’ve started off the season winning two of their first three non league games, adding a 2-1 victory over Archbishop Wood

“Our goal is to make it into the FSL playoffs,” said Coach Rachel Steinman. “If we don’t make mental errors and don’t have these breakdowns. In previous years, that’s what hurt us. We would have close games and a goal would happen and it would fall from there.”

Germantown Friends freshman Lexi Ablin scored twice in her debut against Archbishop Ryan. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

This year, the Tigers will play their home games on the turf at La Salle University. A new playing surface and a new mindset are already paying dividends. 

“On this team we have a ton of freshmen who are bringing a lot of energy to the team and we have a lot of awesome additions to the team this year. I told them we have the potential to get there, we just have to be competitors and we have to work hard and truly believe that we can hang with these teams.”

“On this team we have a ton of freshmen who are bringing a lot of energy to the team and we have a lot of awesome additions to the team this year. I told them we have the potential to get there, we just have to be competitors and we have to work hard and truly believe that we can hang with these teams.”

Lexi may have seized the spotlight with her terrific debut, but Isla has been laying the foundation for four years. She took hold of a captain’s band last season as a junior and is the steadying presence on the Tigers’ back line. 

“The team sees her leadership style,” Steinman said. “She’s my center back and she holds the structure together. She’s very good at communicating and a good person for the younger ones to look up to. She’s very encouraging to the younger players.”

Especially towards her own sister. 

“At home we go out back and pass to each other,” Lexi said. “And once the preseason started, we would go up to the field and practice on shooting.”

Practices can get competitive.

“I think there’s a bit of mutual competitiveness,” Isla said while glaring at her sister. “We’re tough on each other. And our mom will play with us because she used to play in Scotland. She’s also been quite tough on us.”

Although field hockey was new to Lexi, she does have experience in field sports like soccer and lacrosse. The instincts and the work ethic are already on display and she's enjoying the experience.

“She’s a competitor,” Steinman said. “She wants to score. She wants to be out there. She wants to learn. I can’t coach that. That is something these kids are starting to understand.”

Foxes on the Move

Friends League play officially kicks off on Friday with just one game on the schedule as Moorestown Friends begins its final season in the FSL with a trip to Academy of the New Church

Starting in winter, 2024, the Foxes will compete in all sports in the Burlington County Scholastic League in New Jersey, which will drastically cut down travel time for league games. Moorestown Friends was a founding member of the Friends School League, starting 43 years ago. In field hockey, the Foxes won three FSL titles in 1985, 2007 and 2019.

“Change is never easy and this is bittersweet as we have strong relationships with our peer schools in the Friends Schools League,” Moorestown Friends Athletic Director Danielle Dayton said in a statement. “We had a MFS Athletics League Membership Committee which worked through this decision and sought community feedback. We carefully reviewed the advantages of joining the BCSL and it became very apparent that this move would be in the best interest of our student-athletes now and in the future. The Friends Schools League will forever be a treasured piece of our 238-year school history and we hope to continue to face many FSL schools in non-league competition.” 

Hey Now, You’re an All-Star

Of the 18 members of the All-Friends League, only half graduated last year. Returning seniors include Zarah Synnestvedt of Academy of the New Church, Olivia Neri of Moorestown Friends, and Riley Barusevicius and Kayla Rosenbaum of Shipley. Representing the incoming junior class are Ellery Johns of Academy of the New Church, Juliana Kyle and Shay Singer of George School, Lily Neilson of Shipley and Grace Malavotta of Westtown Friends.