From pouring rain to over one degree weather, the Southern Lehigh field hockey team has practiced through it all. Ever since Aug. 11, the team of 28 girls have fought hard through every practice, scrimmage, and game — and the hard work has certainly paid off.
Led by senior captain Tess Stoudt and junior captain Zoey Ritter, the Colonial League champions continue their season into Districts XI playoffs with an 20-0 record to their name. It has been years since the field hockey team has emerged from their regular season completely undefeated.
“Personally for me, this season was different than years past because I felt like I was closest with the people I was playing with,” junior Mackenzie Reese said. “Freshman and sophomore year when you’re a varsity player it’s always upperclassmen, and so this year now that I am an upperclassman I feel like I’m close with everybody.”
Many on the team attribute their success to their support for one another. Over the past two months, they have built unbreakable friendships.
“We’re a really close knit team. In years past we haven’t been as close,” junior Casey Kramberger-Ganglione said. “I think that being more connected has made us stronger as a team.”
This year’s group is also surprisingly young. Of the starting varsity players, only one is a senior, and six of the eleven are underclassmen. While the young team certainly makes for some challenges, it also gives the team an edge when it comes to seasons to come.
“We’re definitely younger than most other teams, but I think that’s a good thing because we’re going to have a ton of experience on varsity when we become upperclassmen,” top scorer sophomore Iris Gluck said. “And so far it’s worked out pretty well too.”
Off the field, one of the team’s most important bonding activities are their daily spirit days. Whether they’re dressed to a theme on practice days or wearing their game day shirts on game day, their spirit days create unity both in their looks and as teammates. For their Colonial League, and PIAA district and state games, the team also prepares with a pasta party the night before to help get everyone in a good mindset and communicating.
“It allows us to have a closer bond and more unity between all four grades not just as varsity and junior varsity,” junior Stephanie Kish said.
When it comes to their field hockey skills, hard work and determination to win are a key factor in their success, a sentiment also echoed by the coaching staff.
“I think the girls really want to work hard and do well and that is an infectious attitude,” said head coach Mrs. Adrienne Searfoss.
Every practice, the team runs “repeats” and plays scrimmages on their grass field, nicknamed by the team as the “cow pasture.”
“Since we’ve been practicing on a bad field, it makes it so that we’re stronger and we have more experience when we play on other fields because we know what to expect,” Gluck said. “Even though when we get to postseason, we don’t have the advanced skills that teams with turf have, we have that team bond and grit that makes us fight till the end and win.”
As the team prepares to advance onto the district championship and beyond, they are practicing harder than ever.
“I think we wanted it more than the other teams; we practiced and played harder,” freshman Olivia Hafler said. “I think that’s only going to get stronger as we move on.”