At Centennial, family affair

Sisters: Courtney and Sara Siegel excel on the Eagles' field hockey team, while Hayley is a standout for the soccer team.

High Schools

October 24, 2002|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Thank goodness for that hill that elevates next to Centennial's Angelo Fortunato Memorial Stadium.

Overlooking the field hockey field and at eye level with the football stadium, which the girls' soccer team plays on, the hill allows Christine Siegel to keep an eye on all her daughters. That hasn't always been the easiest of tasks.

The Siegel sisters have turned the fall sports season at Centennial High School into a family affair, and you can hardly blame their mother for not wanting to miss a thing.

Courtney, a senior, and Sara, a junior, are two of the key performers for the field hockey team, which is 11-3 heading into today's state regional quarterfinal against Lackey.

The youngest Siegel, sophomore Hayley, is a standout for the soccer team, which finished an 11-1-2 regular season and will start defense of its state Class 2A crown next week.

"It would've been neat if all three of them were on the same team, but I never think about that," Christine Siegel said. "Just to have girls in 10th, 11th and 12th grade, I think, is overwhelming. ... My husband [David] and I really just take turns and rotate. It's nice though, when they're at home so we can watch both."

While the school has stopped short of giving Christine Siegel an official seat on the hill, that's where she's been standing on afternoons this fall when both the field hockey and soccer teams are playing at home.

It didn't have to be this difficult for Christine, who used to be able to watch all three on the same field. The Siegel sisters started on the same soccer team in Texas, coached by their father. At the time, Courtney, the oldest Siegel sister, was just 7.

When the Siegels moved to Maryland seven years ago, Courtney and Sara settled on a Western Howard County club team, though they quit the sport a couple of seasons later, while Hayley joined a team in Virginia. She is now on the Bethesda Excel.

"I just got tired of soccer, and was ready for something different," said Sara. "Hayley went to play in Virginia, but I was never that serious."

While in the eighth grade, Sara attended a field hockey camp at Centennial and took to a sport dependent on tactics similar to those used in soccer. Courtney also had made the switch to field hockey a couple of years earlier.

"That would've been fun to all be on the same soccer team, but in a way, I'm glad how it worked out," said Courtney, who, along with Sara, plays lacrosse at Centennial. "Hayley has a different level of intensity with soccer, so it's better that she just plays."

In just two seasons, Hayley, a Maryland's Olympic Development Program player, has laid the groundwork for a spectacular career. As a freshman, she was a key component in the Eagles' run to a state title, and she has avoided a sophomore slump with 10 goals and five assists this season.

Centennial coach Mike Senisi called Hayley a rare player that "rises above everybody."

Hayley said that she depends on her sisters to keep her level-headed.

"I feel I can talk to them if I had a good or bad game," Hayley said. "They are very supportive. They know how much this means to me."

"Courtney and I will talk about our games, but we won't criticize each other," said Sara, who will still take part in the occasional pickup soccer game with Hayley. "And I've never told Hayley what she needs to work on. But we all just have a lot of fun together."

When the topic turns to field hockey, Hayley, whose career in that sport consisted of hitting around the ball with Sara one afternoon, becomes a listener.

"It drives me insane," she said, admitting she's often confused by all the whistles and stoppages. "I don't understand what's going on, but I try; at least I tell my sisters that I do. I'll tell them good job, or run faster or try harder, but that's all the advice I can give."

Sara, 16, and Hayley, 15, call Courtney, 18, the most academic member of the Siegel clan.

Her sisters said Sara is the gossip queen of the family, while Hayley is the laid-back Siegel, whose demeanor off the field contrasts greatly with her intensity on it.

All three, though, share one common trait in that they absolutely hate to lose.

There was one incident when each sister's desire to win really clashed. About 11 years ago, Hayley's rec team played her father's team, which included Sara and Courtney.

"I wanted to win that game more than anything," said Hayley, her sly grin making her next statement almost unnecessary. "And I did."

Recalled Christine: "I didn't know what to do; I just ran from one sideline to the other."

These days, a playful competition exists between the Eagles' field hockey and soccer teams, but the sisters insisted there is absolutely no sibling rivalry.

"Hayley and Sara score a lot, so guys in school say, `Court, your sisters are beating you.' I have to say, `Guys, I play defense. Sara should score. She plays attack,' " said Courtney, who is looking at the universities of Florida and Texas and is striving toward a journalism career.

One of the Eagles' captains, Courtney has been a defender for most of this season but was moved to the midfield recently. She has a goal and three assists. Sara leads the Eagles with 16 goals and three assists.

"It's fun to watch them," Eagles coach Gail Purcell said. "Of course, I think there's a family rivalry going on, but I don't think there's any jealousy."

There was one afternoon this fall when all three Siegel sisters scored, which created some discussion in the Centennial hallways. To the three of them, it was just another thing to joke about later that night.

"It's like having triplets," said Christine. "Ever since they've been little, they've done everything together."

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