NSA aims to do more with lessPublished 9:01pm Saturday, August 31, 2013
The field hockey team at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy entered this season with a small roster that lacked a single senior after seven graduated last year. The first week of the 2013 season showed both the difficulties the team now faces, as well as its potential.
On Tuesday, Bruton High School came to NSA and left with a 12-1 victory.
Lady Saints head coach Ashley Skinner said, “I felt like we came out strong. Unfortunately, our goalie was injured during the game, so a younger goalie had to step up into her place.”
Injuries are something NSA cannot afford. Senior team captain Sarah Higinbotham underlined the team’s biggest challenge this year: “We need to work through being able to run a full game and being able to go a hundred percent a full game, because we only have 12 players, and (there are) 11 on the field.”
Skinner concurred saying, “I think that conditioning is going to be one of our biggest challenges this year.”
Thursday’s home game against Smithfield High School proved the challenge is possible to overcome, as sophomore mid-fielder Brooklyne Carr scored with 53 seconds in the game, resulting in a 1-0 victory.
“I was proud of how they came back after such a tough loss on Tuesday and were able to fight on Thursday,” Skinner said. “It just shows the level of commitment that they have for the sport and for our team.”
Last year’s more-experienced squad went 5-12-1 overall and 2-4 in the conference, falling in the quarterfinals of the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools tournament. This year’s team features five juniors, three freshmen, two sophomores and two eighth-graders.
“It’s definitely a rebuilding year for us, since we’re so young, but our younger girls are very skilled,” Skinner said.
“I’m confident that they’re going to step up and be able to perform with the older girls that we compete against.”
She said, “They had the luxury of working with the older girls last year.”
Higinbotham agreed and expects a lot from the team, including a winning season, “because we are a much closer team than we were last year. It’s smaller, we’re pushing each other more for each other, not just ourselves, and we’re working together better.”
Among the standouts on the roster, Skinner highlighted Higinbotham, a mid-fielder.
“Sarah’s our team captain, she shows a lot of leadership on and off the field,” Skinner said. “She leads by example. She’s not only pushing herself, she’s pushing her teammates, as well.”
Higinbotham said doing so was her goal. Also, in terms of personal performance, she aims to help out more on offense, scoring “at least 10 goals in a season, because usually I’m not the one that scores. I’m usually the one who assists.”
Skinner will also look to junior mid-fielder Jessie Lerner.
“Jessie has a lot of skill with her stick work,” the coach said. “I’m looking for her to be one of our leading scorers this year.”
NSA has a couple of up-and-coming players Skinner noted, including freshman forward Emma Claire Stewart.
“She’s very fast, she’s small, she’s quick, and I’m looking for her to use some of those dynamic skills in our attack this year,” Skinner said.
The coach also said she will count on Carr to lend her power on defense and some on offense, like against Smithfield.
While the directive during the season is to take games one by one, Skinner hopes to improve on the record from last year and go further in the conference tournament.
Nansemond-Suffolk (1-1, 0-0) will visit Bethel High School on Tuesday.