Top high school develops 3 field hockey players

Forwards Sarah Keer and Maris Stern and midfielder Grace Shanton all played at Lehighton Area High School.

Redshirt-junior forward Maris Stern (left), redshirt-senior forward Sarah Keer (center) and freshman midfielder Grace Shanton all played for Lehighton Area High School. | CHIA YU LIAO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

While playing at Lehighton Area High School, Sarah Keer and Maris Stern were part of a high school dynasty.

Keer, a redshirt-senior forward, played in back-to-back Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association championship games, when Lehighton won in 2009 and lost in 2010. Stern, a redshirt-junior forward, played on the team as a freshman in 2010 when Lehighton posted a 24-2 record.

“The run we went on for those two years was pretty special,” said former Lehighton coach Shawn Hindy, who played for the United States National Field Hockey team from 1995-2007. “The amount of talent we had was evident in the success we had sending players to play in college.”

“I think one or two field hockey magazines had us as the number one team in the nation,” Keer said. “It was crazy. With the level of success we had over those two years, I would say we were a powerhouse of a school.”

Playing at one of the top high schools in Pennsylvania prepared the two to move on to college field hockey. Keer has played in all of Temple’s (4-8, 0-4 Big East Conference) games and made three starts.  She scored the overtime game-winning goal on Sunday against the University of California, Davis. Stern has also played in 12 games and started the last 10. She has two assists and a defensive save. Stern has played 699 minutes this season, already surpassing last year’s total.

In 74 career games, Keer has 10 goals and eight assists. When she chose where she wanted to play in college, distance was a determining factor. Keer had slimmed down her list to three schools. Temple was the only one less than eight hours away from her home.

Lehighton is only about an hour and a half away from Temple. It makes it easy for the family, friends and former teammates of the Lehighton alumnae to come to games at Howarth Field.

“It’s really big having the support while we’re playing, and it is always cool knowing when we go home we have the support of the whole town, everyone asking us how we’re doing and that we’re representing the town,” Stern said.

Keer was the trailblazer at Lehighton. She signed a National Letter of Intent to Temple in 2013 before Stern committed the following year. Stern said Keer made her choice and transition to Temple easier than if she had gone to a school where she did not know anyone.

Former coach Amanda Janney, who led the team from 2005-14, recruited Keer and Stern. When coach Marybeth Freeman arrived, she saw their competitiveness and knew Lehighton’s reputation for developing field hockey players.

“I think they have a high level of athletic success, I think their fundamental skills are on point and I think that they are very tactically aware,” Freeman said. “They’ve had some great coaches go through their program, and they really pay attention to the details and it puts them at a very high-performing level.”

Though she didn’t recruit Keer and Stern, Freeman landed a third player from Lehighton in February 2016 when freshman midfielder Grace Shanton verbally committed. She had no interest in going to school in a city, but she decided to give Temple a chance because Keer and Stern were there.

“Coming here and seeing them play and seeing the campus and how it is not really a city but rather its own little town, and seeing how Marybeth and how welcoming the team was, it wasn’t hard to pick Temple,” Shanton said.

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