Blake Field Hockey Looking to Continue Turnaround Season in Playoffs
Blake's field hockey team has had one of the best turnaround seasons for any high school sport in Maryland. The Bengals officially flipped their 2014 record of 3-9 this past Wednesday when they beat Sherwood in overtime 1-0 to finish the regular season 9-3.
While some may think a turnaround of this magnitude could not have been predicted, head coach Patrick Howley would disagree. His team was incredibly young last year. By the end of the 2014 season his starting lineup included five freshmen.
Coming into this season, Howley thought Blake was primed for a bounce back season, even though the team was still going to be young. The team has five sophomores and one freshman who start.
"We had one of our most successful off-seasons with most of the Blake field hockey team playing on the same winter indoor team and outdoor summer league team," said Howley. "Many of the young players on this team also play club and their passion for the game has spread throughout the entire team."
Blake's defense, which is comprised of Shannon Callan, Ali Kerner, Sorina Lim, Keara Lindsay and goalie Caroline Lamb, has been one of the keys for their success. In particular, Howley believes Callan's aggressive style of play and Kerner's superb stick skills, as well as her powerful drives, sets the tone for the whole unit. All nine of the team's wins have been shutouts, and the Bengals have outscored their opponents 27-5.
On offense, Howley credits his team's deep talent pool as one of their greatest weapon. While Nicole Kidwilder leads the team in points with nine goals and three assists, it has been one of those years when it seems like a different player has been a hero in each game. Sabrina Simpson and Ava Edwards in particular have scored big goals for Blake, while freshman Caroline Via's tireless running in the midfield has been critical to the team's success.
"Many of the players have the ability to shoot with a variety of high level skills. Earlier in the season we were getting into the offensive circle but missing the goal often," said Howley. "We've been working on our shooting vision at practice and focusing on what each player does well. That has helped us put more confident shots on goal for solid scoring chances."
Blake's next game will be on Nov. 2nd in the MPSSAA playoffs against the winner of the game between Kennedy and Wheaton. The Bengals are on of two teams in the 3A tournament to get the added advantage of having a first round bye.
While the bye will certainly aid Blake, what will help them even more is the final games they played this season. Howley believes his young team is ready for postseason play after playing tough Montgomery County opponents Poolesville, Paint Branch, Springbrook and Sherwood to close out their season. All of those games had a playoff atmosphere, and Howley thinks his team couldn't be more prepared for the "win or go home" postseason tournament.
"The determination the team has together gives me a lot of confidence in this Blake team," Howley said. "The seniors have done a great job making sure the classes have not treated each other differently. They've led in a way that ensures that everyone cares for one another as a sister. Chemistry is very important when it comes to the playoffs!"
|October 23rd, 2015||By: Wick Eisenberg|