About goals, they know score

Field hockey: Caitlin Swift and Erin Kelly aren't just the best offensive duo for Spalding, but also the best in the metro area.

October 13, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The left wing goes by "Swifty," easy enough considering her name is Caitlin Swift and she skillfully works the ball down the field faster than anyone on the team.

As for center forward Erin Kelly, the second half of the Archbishop Spalding field hockey team's dynamic scoring punch, her nickname often comes with an explanation.

"Tonka?"

"Yes, as in the toy truck," said Spalding coach Leslee Brady. "Sometimes if she knows she can't get around you, she'll just go right through you. One of her goals earlier in the season, she took the ball, the defender and herself into the goal."

Swift and Kelly are far more than the No. 5 Cavaliers' top one-two combination. The junior standouts also are the top two scorers in the metro area this season, often switching positions week by week to help Spalding (10-0-2) pile up win after win.

As of now, it's Swift with 15 goals and six assists for 21 points. Kelly is right on her heels at 13 goals and seven assists for 20 points.

And while both will tell you how fun it is seeing their names at the top of the individual scoring list in The Sun's stats package each Monday, what's more enjoyable is the next day's newspaper, which displays the team's lofty ranking and unbeaten record in the weekly poll.

"We graduated some really good seniors, but we knew we had our whole defense and whole offense back," said Swift, one of seven starters returning from last year's 12-4-2 team. "So we had some spots left at midfield, but they've been filled pretty well. I think everybody was real confident going in, but I don't think our hopes were this high."

The key?

"We're just having so much fun out there this season," Kelly said. "Most of our players are returning varsity players, so that has helped. We always go into each game with a positive attitude and work really well together."

Positive attitude going in, wins going out - and plenty of goals from Swift and Kelly in between.

The two have accounted for 28 of the team's 45 goals; one or the other has registered at least an assist in each of the 12 games; and both have scored goals in the same game on seven occasions.

Swift's quickness and crafty stick skills in the circle and Kelly's positioning and reaction time in front have been the perfect complement.

"They have a really neat knack of knowing where the other is going to be," Brady said. "Caitlin can move that ball anywhere she wants to get around traffic. Erin has a nose for the goal and a real good understanding where she needs to be. They both have a `we-will-not-be-denied' approach to scoring, and because they have different types of skills, they play off each other very well."

There's also plenty of support around them, making it difficult for opposing teams to key on one or the other. Senior captain Erin Love has eight goals and six assists at center midfield, and senior right wing Abby Gallagher has added four goals and seven assists.

The Cavaliers have gone from 8-6-3 in 2000 to 12-4-2 last season to 10-0-2 so far this fall, along with being atop the demanding Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference standings with a 5-0-2 mark.

"I guess we're all a lot more comfortable," Swift said. "Our communication is great: Everyone is doing their job really well, and we all know where each other is going to be and when. So yeah, I guess comfortable is a good word."

For Swift and Kelly, the goals are rewarding, but the wins are more rewarding. It's a close group and when the goals come, the team is closest.

"It's real cool when you hear" the ball clanging off the back of the cage for a goal, Kelly said. "You just jump up, scream and hug everybody around you."

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