Penn Charter’s Cora Wolfington (left) and Germantown Friends’ Isabel Ballester cross sticks in a battle for the ball. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

A lot of newly-minted varsity players were put through their paces when host Penn Charter and visiting Germantown Friends got together for a field hockey scrimmage last Thursday afternoon. The PC Quakers graduated nine seniors from last years squad, and while the Tigers only had five players depart with their diplomas, five younger athletes from the 2010 team opted not to play hockey for GFS this fall.

Each school had to replace a multi-year starter in goal; Charter has senior Liz Cahn in the cage, while sophomore Maddie Andrews took over the position for Germantown.

Although three members of the Class of 2012 dropped off the team, the Tigers still have seven experienced seniors: Allison David (forward), Isabella Didio (midfield), Hannah Drake (forward/midfield), Melanie Mason (defense), Rachel Palmer (defense), Morgan Ramsey (defense), and Courtney Wilson (forward/midfield).

Junior Carry Anne Kane is a seasoned varsity defender, and her younger sister, Sarah, is a freshman forward. Defender Lindsay Freed is the only other junior on the roster, but there are four sophomores in addition to Andrews: forwards Isabel Ballester and Alex MacBeth, and midfielders Katharine Cusick and Dana Schulman.

For Penn Charter, Cahn (the reserve keeper in 2010), wing Amanda Fleming, defender Tess Reinhold, and midfielder Cora Wolfington are the only returning seniors, with classmate Danielle Poindexter (defense) moving up to join them on varsity this fall. Fortunately, there are three strong juniors. Katherine O’Donnell can play forward or mid, Molly Pighini is a midfielder, and Anna Wills is the mainstay of the Quakers’ defense.

Another 11th grader, Molly Mornhinweg, has moved up to varsity and has stepped right into a starting role on defense, and Claudia Stedman completes the junior class contingent. Gabi Bembry and Lauren Matt are the only sophomores, but five freshman are showing promise. Avery Shoemaker and Grace Harbison were the top scorers for the Penn Charter middle school franchise last fall, and Shoemaker scored both of the Quakers’ goals in last week’s scrimmage. The other ninth-graders are defender Sophie Eldridge, forward Tara Murphy, and midfielder Layne Wolfington (Cora’s sister).

In Thursday’s scrimmage, PC controlled the play for much of the first half, but could not score on the Tigers’ Andrews, who made several difficult saves.

GFS coach Maribeth Wicoff reported, “The girls knew at halftime that we were getting beat to the ball – they said it before the coaches did. I think we picked up our level in the second half, and when we scored, we had confidence that we could stay with Penn Charter.”

The score remained 0-0 until there was 17:15 left to play, when Wilson got GFS on the board. At 11:32 Charter answered, with O’Donnell driving the ball in from the left side of the circle and Shoemaker closing in from near the right post to score.

“Once we scored, we were able to maintain our energy and get the second goal,” said Charter coach Natasha Pronga, who saw Shoemaker make her second strike off of a pass inside by her classmate, Murphy. “The freshmen stepped up in a major way, and Molly Mornhinweg, who is a new starter, played very well at sweep. We’re pretty young overall and we’re still experimenting with people in different positions.”