Coach Settle likes Fauquier’s offensive weaponry in field hockey
Friday, Aug. 30
Led by first team all-region attacker Allie White, the Falcon field hockey team has plenty of scoring punch back. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
The Fauquier High field hockey team is experiencing a bit of a flip flop this season.
Last fall the Falcons entered the year with a solid defense opposite an attack that had questions due to inexperience.
Fast forward to 2013 when four of the team's top five defenders have departed. Now the burden may fall on the offense until the defense proves itself.
The Falcons endured scoring difficulties last year in opening 0-4. Once the offense solidified the team won seven of 10 in one strong stretch.
Fauquier watched Kettle Run win the Evergreen District regular season crown, but the Falcons recovered to win their fourth straight district tournament crown. That began a solid postseason run that saw Fauquier place second in the Region II, win a Group A-AA state tournament game 2-0 over Northampton, and reach the state semifinals, where the season end with a loss to Tabb.
The chief loss on defense is Hailey Miller, the District Player of the Year, Region II's top defender and a first team all-state player. All-district goalie Bailey Hilton also graduated.
Fauquier coach Brooke Settle is quick to emphasize her team's defensive cupboard is not empty. Senior Morgan Ryan anchors the defensive corps after earning first team region and district honors last year. Lauren Canard moves into the all-important goalie slot.
Settle says the defense will be efficient thanks to a productive team summer camp and hard work.
"I'm not overly concerned about the defense. Morgan is solid and she'll help to mold those other defenders," said Settle.
On the offensive side, Allie White led the team with eight goals en route to first team all-region and all-district honors. Megan Diehl and Lyndsy Smarelli both were second team all-region and first team all-district. Second team all-district returnees include Savannah Markel, Micensie Barrett and Hannah Abeel.
The remainder of the roster includes Mallory Frister, Abby Seitz, Elle DelGallo, Kendall Scott, Victoria Kroencke, Paige Grimes, Laura Newbill, Katie McCoy, Ivy Olinger, Pamela White and Madison Martin. Settle is carrying 19 girls on varsity.
"I'm pleasantly surprised and very pleased," the coach said of the team's progress since practice opened Aug. 5. "I think this could be a high-scoring team. They communicate all across the field."
Settle noted a recent practice where the squad concentrated on new penalty corner plays.
"Their execution was amazing. We have an offense that is starting to come together," Settle said. "As with all teams we need to improve in areas. I'm looking for better play decisions."
Settle knows she has capable offensive weapons in White, Diehl, Smarelli, Markel, Barrett and Abeel.
Should they click, Fauquier could be extremely dangerous and hard to stop.
"We have good passing, but sometimes we need to see where the best opportunity is," said Settle. "The best teams play two plays ahead. That's what we have been working on this week."
One new wrinkle that everyone will experience is the newly-instituted conference tournament, which determines regional berths. There is no longer a district tournament. Fauquier is in a conference with some powerful teams from Stafford County, like defending state champion Chancellor.
"It's going to be hard getting used to playing new teams," said head captain Morgan Ryan.
But Ryan is excited to see if the Falcons stack up and whether they've got a third straight state title run in them.
"Sure, I'll be nervous but it's states all the way. I've gone every year. I want the younger girls to go to. It's been a wonderful experience," Ryan said.
A wave of new foes is on the schedule. It figures to help the Falcons prepare for the postseason and make them a better program overall.
The Falcons will play Chancellor, King George, Orange and Courtland twice in the regular season, as well as traditional local rivals Kettle Run, Eastern View and Liberty. It's probably a tougher schedule.
"It's one step at a time. You go into a game thinking you're gonna lose, you're already two steps behind," said Settle.
The Falcon junior varsity consists of Peyton Evans, Allison Cree, Becky Mallin, Madison Strum, Emma Symanski, Brenda Chapelle, Cati Adele Slater, Kate Crawford, Laura Elphee, Erin Jones and Whitley McDonald.
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