Kutztown Lady Cougars back in the playoff hunt

File photo by Aimee Herbert The Kutztown High School field hockey team is expecting to get back to their winning ways after two non-winning Berks League seasons.

After three straight winning seasons, the last couple of years have been average at best for the Kutztown High softball team. In fact, last year the Lady Cougars finished at exactly .500 (4-4) in the Berks League. But this year, Eryn Ziegler, who is beginning her second full season as head coach of the Cougars, believes this team has the talent for another winning season.

I think this is going to be a very exciting career for the Kutztown Cougar Field Hockey team, said Ziegler. The kids are coming back after a fantastic building year last fall and put in a lot of hard work during the offseason. We have a strong coaching staff with a great knowledge of the modern game. Everyone has big goals for this season and we cant wait to set out and see what we can achieve.

The Cougars lost only three graduating seniors from last years team, so they will have a lot of experience in 2013. They will also have a lot of youth as many of the returning players are just juniors this season. They all have a year of varsity experience so they will come into the season knowing whats coming.

Though there are many juniors on this team, there are also a couple of seniors who will be counted on as leaders on the team.

Senior Meghan Donut is the heart and sole of the defense after making the All-Division team last year. Coach Ziegler is very happy to have her back on the team.

Meghan has incredible hand-eye coordination that allows her to make many difficult defensive saves, ending the 2012 season with 19 defensive saves total, said Ziegler. Meghan spends a great deal of time outside of practice on the field working on perfecting her skills and helping her teammates do the same. She has a large aerial ball that we will be looking for this season with the modifications to these rules.

Jenn Rohrbach is another key senior who will be counted on heavily.

She has excellent stick skills and plays are very smart game of field hockey, said Ziegler. As a defensive mid, she has the ability to read the offense and play accordingly, almost always coming up with the ball. She is a quiet leader on the field and always gives 100%.

At midfield will be Zoe Keim, who has worked hard in the offseason to improve her game. Coach Ziegler likes her ability on the field and her willingness to do anything it takes to get better.

Zoes asset to the team is her ability to see the field as a whole, said Ziegler. She understands the fundamentals of the game and is constantly positioning herself on the field to support her teammates with the ball. Zoe puts in long hours on the field perfectly advanced skills and always looking for new ones to learn.

Katie Blackwood is back for her junior season after making the All-Division team as a sophomore in 2012. She was third on the team in goals with six during the Berks League season. In the offseason she play on a club team that competed at the Disney Showcase over the winter.

Shes an offensive force and is extremely talented at placing the ball in the goal, said Ziegler. Katie leaves her heart on the field during every game.

In goal will be sophomore Tina ODonnell who will replace Fiona Kane-Salafia who played well in goal last year. ODonnell is young, but Ziegler believes she is ready to take over as the starting goalkeeper.

Tina has fast footwork and a natural ability to do what it takes to put herself in between the ball and the goal, said Ziegler.

Rachel Fegely, Emma Weaknecht and Alyssa Wentzel are all juniors who should makea major impact on the team.

Although the team has not had a winning record over the past couple of seasons, this team is confident that they will get back on the winning track this season.

The team is hoping to compete for the division title, but that will always be difficult with Oley Valley in the division. Still, the Lady Lynx have a few chinks in their armor over the last couple of seasons, so anything can happen.

We are spending our preseason putting together a rock-solid defense and a penetrating offense, said Ziegler. Were aiming to finish among the top five teams in AA District III, landing us in the state playoffs. While these are lofty goals, we feel that we have the skill and drive to be able to accomplish whatever we set out to do.

The question is can these girls play together as a team enough to reach those goals. They have the talent, but that doesnt always translate into wins. This years team should be a good one. Can they improve enough to contend for a division title - only time will tell.

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