Despite small numbers, field hockey players remain optimistic

September 27, 2018 — by Anna Novoselov

Despite a small team, senior captain Autumn Zuleeg is hopeful for the remainder of the season.

Continuing a trend of recent years, the field hockey team is struggling with low numbers.

With only 13 varsity players and an injury that has kept one player sidelined, the team has only one substitute, meaning the starters have to play almost every minute of the game. Even with this obstacle, the girls remain optimistic.  

“The players have the same desire to win and work hard,” sophomore Allison Ha said, “so we can keep up the intensity during games.”

The team tied Monta Vista 1-1 On Sept. 20 at Monta Vista, tied Lynbrook 2-2 on Sept. 18 at home, lost to Presentation 7-0 on Sept. 13, and tied Homestead 1-1 on Sept. 11. The Falcons are 0-3-3 as of Sept. 21.

The girls are focusing on endurance, communication and team dynamics to improve their performance.

Last year, the team had four seniors, three of whom had played field hockey for all four years of high school. Although there are only three seniors this year — right defense Autumn Zuleeg, forward Cameron Webster and goalie Judy Yang — Zuleeg said that the five sophomores on the team show a lot of potential.

The captains are Zuleeg and juniors Hannah Beine and Sarah Rieken and the coach is Nanu Sidhu.

Rieken said the girls have a good team dynamic and get along very well. She hopes that, as an upperclassman, she will be more of a leader and help everyone stay focused during practice.

“The team is positive and energetic,” Rieken said. “I want to win games and I think we’re capable of that.”

Sophomore center forward Allison Ha said that the girls need to work on communicating across the field and coaching each other. She wants them to help each other out during games and give feedback about how to improve.

Practices are largely focused on raising fitness levels and learning how to play as a team, despite varied skill levels. Zuleeg said that she hopes that each player will focus on her weaknesses and improve.

Ha said the hard work has given her increased endurance and speed, allowing her to run for longer amounts of time without getting tired.

“I’m really optimistic about the season because of how much passion is put into the practices,” Zuleeg said.

The hard work and grueling practices unite the team and form strong bonds between players. Zuleeg credits field hockey for creating lasting friendships and giving her the experience of being on a team.

“Sports give you a lot of connections and suffering together, through sprints, coaches yelling at you and injuries,” Zuleeg said. ”It really connects you and bonds you in a way that you can’t get anywhere else in school.”