Springside’s 2011 field hockey captains (from left), Angela Cascio, Libbie Maine, and Lacey Swift-Farley. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Six members of the 2010 Springside School field hockey team left the scene after commencement ceremonies last June, including Indiana University recruit Nicole Volgraf, and Hilary McDonnell, who is playing hockey at Vassar College.

The 2011 Lions have been busy trying to plug those gaps, and in one of their early scrimmages they easily overcame visiting Friends Select, 4-0. Forward Libbie Maine was under the weather for last Wednesday’s tune-up session, but the other four returning seniors started for the Lions. Ashlee Hale, who’s getting looks from college recruiters, is a third-year starter in goal, while Tina Reynolds and Lacey Swift-Farley play in the midfield and Angela Cascio is positioned in the forward line. Cascio, Maine, and Swift-Farley are the team tri-captains this fall.

Four juniors back from last year’s varsity are Norwood Fontbonne Academy alum Cassie Dunne (forward/mid), Jackie Willits (mid), Taylor Wrubel (forward), and reserve goalie Alexis Berry. The first three started at last Wednesday’s scrimmage, along with classmate Chelsea Richardson (left back), who has come up from last year’s JV team. The sixth representative of the junior class is Jackie Gansky (mid/forward).

The other starters against Friends Select were sophomores Charlotte Cilio (a midfielder out of Norwood), Anna Kuo (right wing) and Morgan Schneer (a back), with fellow 10th grader Alex Middleberg providing depth on defense. Freshmen Allie Billock, Neema Herbert, and Carlin Rode are also getting a taste of varsity action.

“Overall I was happy with what I saw out there,” said second-year coach Lydia Imperiale, a Lions alumna herself. “The young girls need to build up their confidence and raise their intensity, and that comes with experience.

“Up in the circle,” she went on, “we need to be really aggressive, keep our sticks low, and be ready when the ball comes off the goalie’s pads. Out in the open field, we need to create space and take the ball to that space, and be careful not to get bunched up.”

Both veterans and rookies will have to get used to playing while wearing the eye goggles that are now required for all participants.

“What I’m hearing from them,” Imperiale reported, “is that they feel like they’re protected, and that helps them go after it a little bit harder. So that could be a good thing.”