Barnegat Field Hockey Squad’s Future Strength Resides Within Its Youth
After being shutout in its first two contests of the season, the Barnegat field hockey team broke out of its offensive shell with a 3-0 victory over Lakewood on Sept. 13. Still, with a program in the process of rebuilding, coach Trisha Winkle is focused not on wins as much as improvement.
“I want these girls learning and progressing day by day through to the end of the season,” said Winkle, a second-year coach whose first crew last year went 2-16-1. “This is the proverbial rebuilding year. We have a lot of young girls playing varsity because we don’t have big numbers for field hockey. But that experience is going to help shape this program for later.”
With just four seniors and two juniors on the entire roster, of which half of them start and one’s currently out with a concussion, Winkle knows experience is at a premium. The Bengals started six freshmen and the only two sophomores on the team in the first game against Lacey.
“A lot of the girls still need some time to get accustomed to the varsity game,” Winkle said. “It’s faster. The girls are stronger. Many players have some really great skills. So for us, it’s like throwing them into a fire. But we need them on the field, so they’re playing.”
Among the more experienced players on the roster are senior forward Nicole Crockett, who had an assist in the win over the Piners; senior midfielder Megan Thelin; senior defender Kyla Russo; as well as junior defender April Stout and junior midfielder/defender Rebekah Santos.
Meanwhile, the rest of the starting crew so far have included sophomore goaltender Gabby Volerman and a number of freshmen – forward Shannon Schiverea, who scored once against Lakewood; midfielder Maddie Schleicher, who scored her first two varsity goals against Lakewood; midfielders Mikenna Reiser and Maddy Santorelli; and defenders Faith Wolf and Brooke Lynn Schmalz.
The rest of the squad includes senior Lauren Helfrich, sophomore Alayna Galati and freshmen Lily Campbell, Reilly Hogan, Jennie Woodstock, Annabella Iorio and Patricia Tanola.
“It’s hard to say what level of play this team is capable of yet,” Winkle said. “There’s a huge learning curve going on. We’re going to need girls to step into roles they’ve never played before and ask them to absorb all they can while trying to be competitive.”
But if things seem dismal for the Bengals, believe Winkle: it’s really not that bad. The future is bright, as far as she’s concerned, and she’s willing to let the team take its lumps this season so it can build up for years down the road.
“Our girls were way more in shape than they were last year, and the freshmen were able to get started on training earlier,” Winkle said. “I’m here to build a program, and the experience will develop. It’s just going to take a little time. And that’s OK, because in a couple of years this program is going to be more competitive than it has been in awhile.
“We also have a very good program in our middle school now, and as those girls feed in and start building alongside the ones here now, we could be a pretty strong program a few years from now.”
— David Biggy