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  September 4, 2008 Issue                                       

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Springside hockey filling the cage in early outings

Lions senior Steffi Fitzpatrick controls the ball in the air.

Under new head coach Tara Maguire, Springside School breezed through its first two field hockey scrimmages last week, outscoring Cheltenham High School, 7-0, and Friends Central, 6-0.

Turning up for their first official practice on Aug. 18, the Lions embarked on a regimen of six hours practice a day.

“They turned up ready to play and ready to run,” Maguire said. “They’ve got a lot of heart and they’re really willing to work and to take risks together as a team. I’m finding them very coachable.”

Maguire is a former U.S. Field Hockey team member and Penn State standout. With an MBA already on her resume, she’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at Chestnut Hill College.

Her last coaching stint was as a Penn State assistant in 2005, and she now operates her own business providing one-on-one field hockey training.

“I love working at the high school level because I think you can have a lot of impact on their lives right now,” she explained. “It makes a real difference when they ‘get it,’ when they understand it’s not just about field hockey, but about principle; showing up on time, following through on their commitments, showing respect for one another.”

Lucy Ross, a 2004 Springside graduate, is Maguire’s assistant coach, and the team captains are senior sweep Meg Cronin and junior forward Katie DeGennaro. Nine players graduated from the Lions’ 2007 squad, and aside from the captains, the returning varsity players are seniors Steffi Fitzpatrick (back), Sami Pulley (goalkeeper), and junior Lindsay Yang. Two other veterans from the ’07 varsity, senior Allie Aversa and junior Michal Patchefsky, have retired their sticks and are now serving as team managers.

Junior Lindsay Yang beats a Friends Central rival to the ball. For more photos visit (Photos by Jimmy J. Pack Jr.)

The other senior on the squad is Meg Speight, and the juniors are Colleen Caldwell, Louise Hearn, and Leah Spalding. Caldwell, a midfielder out of Norwood Fontbonne Academy, transferred to Springside this year from Mount St. Joseph’s.

With a total of just 21 players out for upper school hockey this fall, Springside is carrying a large varsity contingent and will not play a JV schedule. There are eight sophomores on the roster, and one of them, midfielder Hillary McDonnell, played on the 2007 varsity. Another sophomore, Meredith Noll, is Pulley’s backup in goal. The other 10th-graders are Melissa Beight, Annelise Davies, Ali DiFelice, Allie Grady, Caitlin Sirianni, and Meredith Noll.

Freshman Libbie “The Libbinator” Maine has already secured a starting spot on the team, and she put away four goals during the Lions’ encounter with Friends Central last Thursday. Three of her classmates are also on the roster: Elena Markos, Martina Reynolds, and Lacey Swift-Farley.

Coach Maguire characterizes her new squad as “a strong attacking and counterattacking team. We’re using a fairly simple style of play, passing and moving. We want everybody to be able to play an all-around game; we’re focusing on a lot of team defense and team offense.”

Hired early this summer, Maguire didn’t have much input into the makeup of the Lions’ non-league schedule. It is not particularly rigorous, considering the level of play Springside will encounter in most of its games in the Girls Inter-Ac League, where the team posted a record of 1-9-2 last fall. In past league campaigns, the Lions have often played tentatively, falling short of their potential. It’s a pattern they plan on breaking this season.