Parkland Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONFreshman Aubrey Semler scored a pair of goals in Parkland’s season-opening win. PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONFreshman Aubrey Semler scored a pair of goals in Parkland’s season-opening win.

Freshmen shine in field hockey win

Monday, September 11, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

For a team with a lot of young players on the front line, the Parkland field hockey team came out on fire in its season opener, downing Pocono Mountain West 9-0.

The front group of young players kept pressure on the Panthers throughout the game with freshman Aubrey Semler leading the way with three goals.

Fellow freshman Ashley Young also scored a goal, while sophomores Sierra Marstellar, Maddie Molchany, Olivia Vaccari and Ana Yeager also scored in the game, with Marstellar scoring twice.

“One thing I’m always worried about is that when we play a team that we know we’re more skilled than, we kind of come out lackadaisical and not as intense as I would like us to,” said third-year Parkland head coah Lizzie Millen. “Today, the girls really did set a strong tone, so I was happy that they were mature about playing every game like they should. That was good to see.”

The young offense is helped along by the fact that the defense for Parkland is filled with juniors and seniors who have gained a lot of experience over the past couple of seasons playing for Millen.

When Pocono Mountain did get any sort of challenge going, the Trojan defense was able to stop it before it got too far. The Panthers had just one shot on goal, which was turned away by junior goalkeeper Aanika Kapoor, who was on in relief of senior Brie Barraco.

Semler got her team off to a quick start with two early goals. The second goal came on an end-to-end trip down the field where the freshman showed off her stick skills, weaving in and out of defenders and then finding an opening past goalie Geneve Ryals to make it 2-0 Parkland.

“I work on that skill a lot,” said Semler. “Cutting through players like that is something that I work on. I’ve learned to work hard like that and get to the goal.”

Semler pointed out that while the front group of players are all freshmen and sophomores, they’ve grown up playing field hockey together through youth leagues and the South Parkland Youth Association. Many of them also play together on club teams and have competed at pretty high levels, giving them a lot of confidence in themselves and in each other.

Millen likes what she sees from the young group of players and believes that they’ll continue to improve thanks to the fact that they’re receptive to coaching and have a strong work ethic to improve their game. At times, having so many young players in key roles can have some drawbacks, but Millen has seen them progress well through camp and into the regular season.

“There’s a lot of talent with them, but there’s also a lot to rein in,” said Millen. “They have a lot that they want to accomplish and do, but sometimes the decision making isn’t always there. So we’re trying to teach them the correct way of honing in their skills right now.”

Semler credited the coaching staff and the senior players with having helped the young group gain confidence and providing them with a safety net by playing such strong defense. Semler, for one, is looking to learn as much as possible from the current group of seniors before they move along.

“We are young, but we’ve got the seniors to help us out and bring us along for the next few years and help bring us up,” said Semler. “They’ve been great and they’ve made it so comfortable to come up here and start varsity with them. They’re a really good group of girls and they’ve been here, so they know the drill and know what to do. They’ve really helped to make it an easier transition.”

Millen likes the confidence that she’s seeing and was excited to see how the young players performed in their first game. She believes that Semler has learned a lot just in the short time that she’s been with the team and is continuing to become a better player.

“We try to instill that confidence in them in practice,” said Millen of the young players. “She’s been really good about taking our criticism and critiques and converting them into the results that we desire to see, so she has definitely been a nice asset to the forward line for us.”