7 of 13 players are out for first time
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Head coach Janie Schneider has good news and not-so-good news for fans of the Brentwood High School field hockey team.
Her good news is that more girls are on the team this fall than in 2014. Okay, so the roster of 13 is only one more than last year. Still, in a sport that requires 11 players per side, having two on the bench instead of one can make a difference. Last year there were games when the Eagles had to play with fewer than 11.
“We only had 12 last year, so we’re moving up,” Schneider said with a laugh. “When there were 16 signed up we about peed our pants, we were so excited. But some girls ended up playing different sports.”
Schneider’s not-so-good news is that seven of her 13 have never played organized field hockey before. Brentwood always has a few players who are out for the first time, but not like this — not more than half of the team. And of the seven returners, most are starting only their second season playing the sport. That’s unlike last year when the five seniors included Madeline Neely and Gabby Naumann, who had played since they were freshmen, and Ashley Cloud, who had augmented her two seasons by playing in Gateway Field Hockey spring and summer leagues.
Of the seven first-time players, Schneider said, “They’re still learning the rules. We’re teaching them to hustle instead of worrying about the rules so much. Because that will come, we just need them to hustle.”
Schneider said her most improved players so far this season are senior Abby Harper, juniors Mishal Azeem and Kerry Clarke, and sophomore Emma Stoverink.
Harper and Clarke each scored two goals last year and should now get more, as they’ve been moved up to forward, along with sophomore Mickey Torres.
“I’m excited,” said Harper. “It’s going to be fun to get up there and score some goals because now instead of just having a strong defense we’ll have a strong full field. Instead of the defense hitting it up the field and just having the other team’s defense get it, it’ll finally be pushed up to the forwards.”
Azeem will play midfield along with juniors Aileen Frazier and Oni Wright.
“We have more athletes this year, which makes us a better team,” said Azeem.
Stoverink is the starting goalkeeper after serving as the backup last year to Audrey Brown. Now a senior, Brown has been moved out to defender.
“Audrey was the starting goalkeeper but she does pretty well in the field too and Emma does really well in goal,” said Schneider. “But we may occasionally put Audrey in goal.”
Joining Brown in defender positions are senior Sotiria Karanikolas, junior Emma Lochmoeller and sophomore Megan Jones.
Said Lochmoeller, who has also played midfielder, “Defense is a lot less running but it’s also scarier because you’re the last person before the goalie so it’s intimidating.”
With so many inexperienced players, Schneider said improvement is more important than victories.
“We have a goal of definitely winning a few games, but also a goal of just getting better each game and working hard,” she said. “And they have been working hard, which is important, because you can be a good athlete and not work hard.”
The Eagles, 1-1, play in the 18th annual Gateway Classic Field Hockey Tournament this weekend at Sport Port in Maryland Heights. They play at 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday. It’s the largest high school field hockey tournament in the U.S., with 52 teams.
Six BHS returners: seniors Audrey Brown and Abby Harper; juniors Mishal Azeem, Kerry Clarke and Emma Lochmoeller; and sophomore Emma Stoverink.
Forwards: Kerry Clarke, Abby Harper, Mickey Torres.
Midfielders: Oni Wright, Aileen Frazier, Mishal Azeem.
Defenders: Megan Jones, Emma Lochmoeller (right), Sotiria Karanikolas (left), Audrey Brown.
Goalkeeper: Emma Stoverink.
Audrey Brown, Abby Harper, Sotiria Karanikolas
Mishal Azeem, Kerry Clarke, Aileen Frazier, Emma Lochmoeller, Oni Wright
Megan Jones, Emma Stoverink, Mickey Torres
Caroline Bender, Mia Lewis