Eagles aim to keep on improving Offense is strong, defense is young Centennial 1993 high school field hockey preview

September 09, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

Centennial improved from 8-6 in 1991 to 9-4 in 1992, and the Eagles hope to keep the trend going.

They also would like to get past the first round of the Class 3A regional playoffs, where they lost to Thomas Johnson, 4-1, a year ago.

The Eagles appear to have the attack to do it. The only question is whether their young defense can come along quickly enough.

"The key is going to be the mental toughness of this group," said coach Gail Purcell. "I think they have the ability, but their youth and inexperience may be something they have to prove."

Three-quarters of the front line returns even better than a year ago after playing in Europe over the summer. Seniors Chantal Loomis and Abbey Forbes and junior Emily Ward honed their skills against more-experienced players in the Netherlands.

Purcell said the experience forced all three to get more aggressive. Those improvements should translate into a quicker, more versatile offense.

With Loomis on the left wing, Forbes at left inner and Ward on the right wing, the Eagles have one of the county's top offensive threats.

The newcomer to the line, promising sophomore Allison Altcher, moves up from JV to play right inner.

"We're very strong on attack, which is not normally a hallmark for my team," said Purcell, in her 17th season. "I'm looking for us to be more in control in the circle, in terms of having shots on goal, than we have in many, many years."

The Eagles' offense also will get a boost from senior right link Katrina Wolfe, their only returning All-County pick.

A year ago, she scored five goals, had four assists and controlled the middle of the field. Purcell counts on Wolfe to do the same this season.

Joining Wolfe in the midfield will be junior left link Stephanie Schneider, who moves up from JV.

Defensively, however, the Eagles might be vulnerable. Without a returning senior on defense, Purcell is starting all juniors on the field and a sophomore in the goal.

Jenny Grahm, a transfer from Howard, will start at center back with Kim May on the left and Kari Jones on the right. Karen Bryns takes over at sweeper.

In goal, Becca Armiger shows promise after moving up from the JV.

Four juniors also should see plenty of action as the first off the bench. Lauren Stroeble and Krista Maizel bolster the defense with Katherine Lonquist and Jeannie Lee coming off the bench on attack.

In the race for the county title, Purcell said she would give Glenelg and Mount Hebron the early edge.

"This county, every year, gets closer and closer," said Purcell, whose squad finished 5-2 and in third place in the county last year behind Glenelg and Mount Hebron.

"It used to be a very drastic difference, but now any school can beat any school.

"The teams that used to be a little less in ability have really come up -- they've gotten good coaches. There's never a team that goes unbeaten in the county, and that makes for a more important season."

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