Weekly Feature



2017-09-07 / Sports

Field hockey team looking to get back to the finals

by TAYLOR NIGRELLI
Reporter

The Orchard Park field hockey team lost a solid host of contributors from last year’s Class A runner-up team, but it won’t be hurting for participants this season. The varsity team has 25 girls on the final roster. There were 36 at the varsity tryout and more than 30 at the JV one.

The Lady Quakers are coming off a 9-9 season that saw them advance to the Class A final before falling to Williamsville North 3-1. Eight seniors from that team have since graduated, including Second-Team All-Western New York selection Penny Lenard. But there are some solid returning players.

The team is strongest on the back end. There are two more-than-capable goaltenders in Jessie Gacek and Natalie Chojnacki.

“We have two outstanding goalies,” Orchard Park coach Bridget Callahan said. “Jessie Gacek is a four-year player. Natalie Chojnacki is also very good. They’re both juniors and they’re both outstanding. It’s a blessing and a curse to have two goalies this good. We’ll always have someone good in net, but they also have to share time. They both have different styles, but both are great.”

Gacek will serve as a co-captain with Zoe Kasper, who will be among the team’s most important defenders.

“She’s in the back now as a defender,” Callahan said. “She does an awesome job.”

With Lauren Martinez, Sam Fisher, Amanda Aldrow and the aforementioned players, the defense will be an area of strength.

“Right now, it looks like the strongest players will be on defense,” Callahan said. “We’re loaded in the back. Zoe, two goalies, Lauren Martinez, Sam Fisher, Amanda Aldrow are all on defense.”

Sara Puskar and Grace Potenza will be the returning players in the midfield. Junior Jess Peters and sophomore Carly Gregory will be veterans on attack.

The team has some short-term goals, but the long-term aim is to make it back to the finals.

“We have some spots to fill, so we’ll be looking forward to see who fills those shoes,” Callahan said. “We want to work hard, have fun and have great teamwork. We want to see if we can get back in the finals. That would be a good long-term goal. But there are a lot of small goals we have to accomplish before we can get to that big goal at the end.”

Of course, the competition will be tough. Class A features two-time defending champion Williamsville North as well as Clarence, who is no slouch. But you never know who is going to be good until you see them on the field.

“Will North will have Emma Roland, who scored all three goals on us last year in the championship game,” Callahan said. “Clarence should be good, too. But teams change every year. We played Pioneer last season and they beat us 5-1. This year, we beat them 2-0. Teams change, so I know not everything will be the same.”

The team opened the season Wednesday and will play Friday, Monday, Tuesday and next Friday.

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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