Lady Warriors set big goalsPublished 9:39pm Saturday, August 24, 2013
Nansemond River High School brings a large, but experienced group of sophomores and seniors into this season with goals shaped by two major events.
First, the Lady Warriors saw their season end last year in the semifinal round of the district tourney. It was a game that, if won, would have given them a berth in the regional tournament.
Second, the Virginia High School League’s realignment puts Nansemond River in a smaller conference and region against schools of like size, schools that coaches think are likely to have less skill in field hockey.
In the Southeastern District, with schools much larger than those in Suffolk, the Lady Warriors went 7-2 in the regular season, finishing second behind Lakeland.
“We look to definitely stay competitive in our conference and hopefully advance to that regional tournament,” NR head coach Ali Mowry said.
Grassfield High School has denied the Ldy Warriors access to regionals the last two years, but the Lady Grizzlies are not a part of Nansemond River’s new conference. Though the Lady Warriors will still have Lakeland to contend with, the top two teams in the conference move on to the regional level.
One of Mowry’s five seniors, Kimberly Bates, talked about one of her coach’s main concerns for this season.
“We are playing teams that are a little bit lower, skill-wise, which will probably help us get further, but we should stay consistent playing,” Bates said. “We have to play up to every team we play.”
Mowry hopes to keep her team focused throughout the year, as well, since a lot of the conference games do not even begin until mid-October.
Senior forward Amber Daubenspeck said, “I think that this is the best varsity team Nansemond River has had in a while.”
Mowry feels good about this year’s squad, which features seven sophomores, five seniors and three juniors.
Among her senior standouts will be Madison Janek.
“I’m looking for her to get our defensive line going and working the ball up the field,” Mowry said.
Senior forwards Bates and Daubenspeck will be expected to generate some offense and overcome some of the team’s past difficulties of scoring in transition.
“I’m also looking for my sophomore class to really produce this season,” Mowry said. “I think they’re going to be strong, and hopefully some of those girls are going to fill in the gaps that were left.”
Those gaps include a spot on defense that used to be filled by 2013 graduate Taylor Flick and a mid-field position formerly held by Shelbi Holloman, who plays for Roanoke College this fall.
Sophomores Ashley Hiltabrand, KateLynn Hodgkiss, Claire Janek and Jaclyn Mounie should see time in the midfield and maybe even some at forward.
Sophomore Cali Valdivieso will be expected to step up on defense.
“All five of them are very versatile,” Mowry said. With the effort and energy they bring, “I feel like I’m comfortable putting them anywhere on the field, and they would give me 100 percent.”
Senior Brooke Street will take over for graduate Lindsey Hunter in the goal.
The Lady Warriors begin their season at home on Monday against their nemesis, Grassfield High School.