Kettle Run field hockey emerges as favorite to win Evergreen District title
Wednesday, Aug. 28
Morgan Rodgers (pictured) and teammate Allison Zaleski were Region II first team last year. They're part of Kettle Run's star-studded 2013 team that began the season Monday with a 3-0 win over Western Albemarle. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
The Evergreen District's defending regular season field hockey champions look well-equipped to defend their title.
Kettle Run returns 13 players from the 2012 championship squad and boast experience up and down the field. The Cougars had a banner year, winning the Evergreen District regular season title and beating Fauquier twice last year to finish 7-7.
They were bounced by Charlottesville, 4-0, in the Region II semifinals.
"I'd just say experience is our chief strength," said Cougar coach Joanie DeGoosh.
With so many returnees DeGoosh said she is dealing with a pleasant situation in preseason because the skill level is so high. But nothing's ever perfect in a complicated team sport.
"We just need to refine some things. We've been working on the basics first," said DeGoosh, noting the abundance of veterans has allowed for some experimentation and movement of personnel.
"We've got some people in different positions. That affects timing through your support assignments and knowing where your support is," said DeGoosh.
Leading this fall's unit are two first team all-Region II performers in juniors Morgan Rodgers and Allison Zaleski. A forward, Rodgers led the Cougars in scoring last fall with nine goals, while Zaleski is a vital anchor on defense. Also returning are a pair of second team all-regional players in senior attacker Addy Foudray and defender Sabrina Eckert. Foudray, Eckert, Rodgers and Zaleski were all-district first team performers as well.
The talent pool also includes Lexi Lombard, Lauren Schlenker, Kathy Schraf, Christina Mohl and goaltender Blair McAvoy. All five were second team all-district in 2012. Meredith Palmore, Bridget Carpenter and Hannah Twomey round out the varsity returnees. Moving up from the junior varsity program are Alexis Zuras, Jessica Wilcox and Amanda Ward.
It certainly looks likely for the Cougars to defend their 2012 crown. However, the changing VHSL landscape has made district glory less important.
DeGoosh declined to make any district prediction, citing the new playoff format. Culpeper and Eastern View enter the district this fall, bringing the number of field hockey members to five from three previously.
The Evergreen District will crown a regular season champion, but all schools now advance to the newly-created conference level which will determine regional advancement.
"Does anything really matter except the conference and beyond?" DeGoosh said.
While she likes her team's prospects, the newness of the system and potential new opponents brings about a fair amount of confusion. Her players, however, expect great things.
"I think we have strong players in all positions," said Lombard, who is a tri-captain with Schraf and McAvoy. "There is the potential to get to states. I think we are definitely are worthy of that competition."
Kettle Run opened its promising 2013 season Monday with a 3-0 home win over Western Albemarle. The Kettle Run junior varsity opens Wednesday against Spotsylvania. The 23-girl unit is the largest in school history, and includes Whitlee Willis, Grace Whisenant, Emma Whisenant, Lauren Moon, Morgan Twomey, Kelly Fanning, Baylie Fiel, Madison Fitzpatrick, Megan Hasle, Taylor Welch, Melanie Sutphin, Hailey Snyder, Isabelle Rustom, Jenna Rowell, Grace Rigby, Taylor Havlu, Diane Kelligan, Blair Houska, Peighton Macintosh, Jocelyn Norman, Laura O'Toole, Mackie Rader and Mary Ann Rasmussen.
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