The Owls carry seven freshmen from Pennsylvania on their roster this season.
The field hockey team, consisting of mainly underclassmen, has eight freshmen with forward Amber Youtz and midfielder Nicole Kroener leading the way. Both have started all 13 games for the Owls thus far.
Youtz was a first team all state selection her senior year at Central Dauphin High School and was selected to the 2010 United States Field Hockey Association Futures Tournament. The Dauphin, Pa. native has contributed three goals on 21 shots this season with a .762 shot on goal percentage.
Senior forward and team captain Bridget Settles said Youtz supplies the team with a needed spark on the offensive side.
“[Youtz] has great stick skills and we really need that on the forward line,” Settles said. “Her hustle is great and she’s always giving her best effort.”
Coach Amanda Janney said from the beginning of the season she saw an aggressive-attacking nature to Youtz’s game.
“I just see a lot of heart and hustle,” Janney said. “She’s a great athlete with the instincts of that kind, of no fear in being really aggressive.”
On the defensive end, Kroener’s abilities give the Owls’ defense extra speed and hustle. Kroener was an all-state honorable mention selection at Twin Valley High School. She was a two-time captain for her high school team and earned Berks All-Academic honors all four years of high school. The Morgantown, Pa. native’s athleticism is a determining factor in the Owl’s transition from defense to offense.
Senior captain Caryn Lambright said the importance of Kroener in the midfield isn’t underestimated.
“[Kroener] is really a key part of our midfield in transferring the ball,” Lambright said. “She can spin out of almost any defender coming in on her.”
A key part of any collegiate sport is recruiting. For field hockey, Pennsylvania is one of the largest talent bases on the East Coast. Out of the Top 5 ranked schools in the nation for field hockey, each school has players originating from the Keystone state. With such a convenient recruiting area, all but two of Temple’s players are from Pennsylvania.
Janney understands the competition in Pennsylvania.
“You see a lot of top schools take in international students to play,” Janney said. “But I like to bring in girls from Pennsylvania.”
To look further into the recruitment process, the appeal of the school and of the girls already on the team is key. Kroener’s visit to Temple sealed the deal to her decision to attend the university.
“When I came here for my visit, the whole team was very welcoming,” Kroener said. “And of course [Janney] is a really great coach.”
Academics were also a key part of Kroener’s decision. Having declared a major in biology, Kroener said Temple’s College of Science and Technology made her decision concrete.
To Youtz it was a certain team chemistry that brought her to Temple.
“What drew me into Temple was the community and how everyone wanted to work together and play as a team,” Youtz said.
But Youtz and Kroener aren’t the only freshmen contributing to the team so far. Freshman goalkeeper Haley Mitchell is another young gun providing a boost. In six appearances, she has three saves and a .600 save percentage. Mitchell was a second team all state selection at Cocalico High School.
Lambright doesn’t see any problem with the togetherness or unity of the young team.
“The year before there was a large freshman class coming in, so we learned to get used to it,” Lambright said. “Now with this class, it was an easy transition and we all work together well.”
For the Owls, looking to the future isn’t a bad prospect. As the team begins to enter Atlantic Ten Conference play, players are continually working to get better. With such a young team, Janney understands the patience needed with growing pains.
“We don’t have a lot of experience to figure out a good team,” Janney said. “We have outstanding seniors, but they could only do so much. Our sophomores and freshmen are working hard but we need them to step up as the season goes on.”
With the main part of the season coming up, as conference play heats up, the underclassmen will be important. Youtz realizes the significance of this part in the season and she knows what needs to be done to finish the season strong.
“The second half and the playoffs coming up are all about us playing as hard as we can,” Youtz said. “And for us younger girls to play for the seniors and make this year one of their best.”
Colin Tansits can be reached at email@example.com.