South Lakes’ varsity field hockey team is on course to easily improve on last season.
The Seahawks, who won eight games in 2011, cruised through two preseason scrimmages, rattled off three Under the Lights Tournament wins and started their 2012 season 6-1. The Seahawks host Marshall on Tuesday.
As head coach Jessica Dowd enters her second year at South Lakes, the Pennsylvania native looks to build off of last season’s success and make South Lakes a legitimate Liberty District contender.
“I like to tell the girls that whatever happened last year doesn’t matter. It’s a brand new season and things are going to change,” said Dowd, who inherited a squad that one one game in 2010. “They’re going to have different challenges so they need to prepare for each game rather than looking in the past.”
Dowd played collegiately at Philadelphia’s La Salle University, where she served as a captain her senior year. But even with all of her experience, she faced the difficult task of instilling confidence in a group of jaded young players.
“At the beginning of last season, they were going into games with not having a lot of confidence in themselves,” Dowd said. “Coming off of the season they had prior, they were expecting to go in and lose every game. I really had to drill into their heads that you can’t go in expecting lose. You have to expect to win and have the mentality that we’re a new program and we’re no longer those same Seahawks.”
This year’s team is out to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke.The Seahawks opened their regular season with a 5-1 home victory over Falls Church and defeated Yorktown and crosstown rival Herndon in overtime contests. South Lakes outscored opponents 8-2 during the three-game stretch and its defense has pitched four shutouts in the team’s nine scrimmage, tournament and regular season games.
Captains Lisi Mueller (Forward), Emily Lemoine (Forward) and Melissa Westfall (Defense) headline a squad that lost four seniors to graduation. Juniors Hannah Becker (Defense) and Olivia Wolfe (Midfield) also have vital roles on the team.
“I look for them to take charge and really communicate and be leaders for their respective positions and to help their teammates out,” Dowd said of her players. “They’re a great group of girls and I was very fortunate to have them come in. Wwith them now having a full year of my coaching, they came in this season knowing what I expected individually and as a team.”
Dowd’s veteran players have helped sophomores Megan Greatorex (Forward) and Aly McCarty (Forward) adjust to the varsity level and ease into increased playing time and starting roles.
Dowd said last season’s changes and subsequent success challenged her players to work even harder in the offseason at improving skills they were deficient in to ensure more of the same in 2012.
“Coming into this season, the girls knew what I expected and they were ready to go,” said Dowd. “They were conditioned and in shape. We just had to fine-tune some formations. They came in ready to go from day one. So far, it’s been working.”