River field hockey looks ahead

Published 10:43 pm Friday, August 22, 2014

Nansemond River High School’s field hockey team achieved its goal last season of qualifying for regionals, the first time it had made it in more than 10 years. The Lady Warriors push ahead this year without some major contributors to that feat, but coach Ali Mowry is pleased with her 2014 roster of players.

Nansemond River High School junior back Cali Valdivieso, No. 8 on right, is someone her coach is counting on to shore up the Lady Warriors' defense this year.

Nansemond River High School junior back Cali Valdivieso, No. 8 on right, is someone
her coach is counting on to shore up the Lady Warriors’ defense this year.

“I definitely have high expectations for them,” she said. “We’ve had a really good offseason, and I expect that to carry over into the season starting next week.”

Last year, Nansemond River went 12-7 overall, placing second in the Ironclad Conference for the regular season and the conference tournament and advancing to the regional semifinals before being eliminated by Tabb High School.

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Five Lady Warriors from that team graduated in June, including back Madison Janek and forward Amber Daubenspeck, both 2013 captains. Also playing key roles and logging substantial playing time were forward Kimberly Bates and goalkeeper Brooke Street.

Junior KateLynn Hodgkiss has opted not to return, but Nansemond River will still feature plenty of upperclassmen, including seven juniors and four seniors.

One senior expected to stand out is forward Desiree Patterson, who will be a four-year letterman after this season. Mowry noted Patterson was sidelined as a sophomore after tearing a ligament in her knee, and though she played her junior year, she was still kind of feeling her way back.

“I expect her to be full force this year,” the coach said.

Referring to some of her juniors — Ashley Hiltabrand, Claire Janek, Jaclyn Mounie and Cali Valdivieso — Mowry said, “I really expect a lot out of those four.”

Hiltabrand, Janek and Mounie will be midfielders, responsible for getting the ball up to the forwards, finishing plays in the circle when they have the opportunity and playing big roles in penalty corners.

Valdivieso will be valuable to NR as a defender.

Junior Alex Wilde will take over for Street as goalkeeper.

“She definitely has a big role in our defense,” Mowry said of Wilde. “Alex saw a little bit of (goalkeeping) time last season.”

The roster also features four sophomores and one freshman, and Mowry said, “I have high hopes for my younger ones.”

Commenting that the Lady Warriors have not been a heavy scoring team in the past, Mowry said freshman forward Ashlyn Rogers could start to change that this season.

“I think she’s going to be able to create chaos in the circle and really get after the ball,” the coach said. “I definitely think as the season progresses, she will be a big role player for us.”

Working to fill Madison Janek’s cleats will be sophomores Mackenzie Roach and Victoria Czuprynski, both of whom have inspired Mowry’s confidence in them with their performances in preseason practices and scrimmages.

Mowry also highlighted sophomore forward Ariana Samuel as an up-and-comer when the coach said, “She’s earned a lot of trust, as well, with her attitude and effort in practice.”

Mowry expects her team to be competitive in the conference if she can form the right lineups and the players work together.

Nansemond River’s season opener is Monday at Grassfield High School.