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MC girls begin Shober era with high hopes
The Manheim Central field hockey team continued its run of qualifying for the Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Double-A playoffs last year. The Lady Barons advanced to both tournaments for the fifth straight year in 2010.
Unfortunately, however, the Central girls went two-and-out last year, suffering a 4-2 loss to Warwick in the L-L quarterfinals and then dropping a 5-0 shutout to Fleetwood in the opening-round of Districts.
While the Lady Barons lost five quality seniors from that squad in Sarah Bomberger, Randi Boyd, Megan Gingrich, Amanda Ruth and Nancy Saylor, optimism is again high in Manheim Central’s camp.
If they are to return to the post-season once more this October, they will do it with a new skipper in Samantha Shober, who becomes the Lady Barons’ fourth coach since the end of the 2004 season.
Earlier this week, Lititz Record Sports Editor Bruce Morgan conducted an interview with Shober to discuss the upcoming season. The following is a transcript of their conversation:
Bruce Morgan: As a first-year coach, how is the transition going for you and the team?
Sam Shober: I would definitely say the first week of pre-season was hectic just because it was something new. It was a learning experience. There were a lot of things I didn’t realize as a player (at Cocalico High School and Lebanon Valley College) that head coaches are responsible for. But I think definitely after the first few practices got underway, I got a feel for time management and what my team needed to do, and it’s definitely more enjoyable going to practice than the first week of pre-season was.
BM: How do you like this team that you’ve inherited?
SS: I love them. I actually kept worrying about getting a (teaching) job offer too far away that I wouldn’t be able to keep coaching them. Like I said, I want to be part of this team and I think it’s an awesome community to be a part of. The girls are hard, hard workers and that’s something you can’t really teach and I count on that every day. If you work hard, you’ll get what you want in life. People are there along the way to teach you the skills, to fine-tune what you might have already, but they’re hard workers and I’ll be the one to fine tune their skills and kinda go from there. But I’m very pleased.
BM: I know you probably don’t know a lot about last year’s team, but how many returning players do you bring back from that team?
SS: I chose not to learn a lot about last year just so I could kinda have my own free reign. I believe probably between six and eight returning starters should be in the lineup once again.
BM: Do you feel like you have pretty good balance in all areas of the field?
SS: There are certain areas where I wish I could have a little bit more strength right now, but I think that will come with time. I’m starting a new system with them and kinda starting to get them to understand the system that I want them to be playing. So it might be more of a learning thing right now than a weakness in the field. We’ve had one scrimmage so far last week and we’ll scrimmage again Wednesday and they’re starting to kinda click and see what I want out of them.
BM: What kind of system are you implementing?
SS: It’s confusing — it’s diamonds all across. There’s a diamond four at the back, a diamond four at the top and two outside mids who get to do a lot of running.
BM: Are they picking that up pretty well so far?
SS: Yes, they are. I implemented the system so we could have some width with the field and also be very offensive, and they’re finally picking up on the aggression that I want offensively and the width that I want coming down the field in the other 75 percent of the field. It’s finally clicking and starting to work very well.
BM: Who are some of the players that you’re looking at in your system? Will you still have forwards, midfielders, backs?
SS: For the most part. We do have what we call up forwards and deep forwards, up backs and deep backs. But essentially, the people who play in the middle of the field are going to be where my strengths are for this season.
BM: Who are they?
SS: Right now, my middle of the field players are Morgan Mummau and Paige Daniel and Katie VanBlargan. Abigail Hahn is trying out the deep back position, but we’re still searching for a home there. I have (Morgan, Paige and Katie) in the middle and mentally, they’re understanding more about what I want and they’re doing a wonderful job of showing that leadership on the field and then distributing the ball wide and allowing that person to shine.
BM: So their strengths are just distributing the ball well and understanding the system?
SS: Yes, I’m really looking to have a team that is light on individual carrying of the ball and we’re very heavy on passing and that’s working well with them there.
BM: Who do you have at your up forward positions?
SS: Right now, Morgan Mummau is going to be playing up forward. She’ll be like a cherry picker essentially. She’s the highest forward in the lineup and is responsible for hopefully finishing a bunch of goals this season. It’s kind of like a striker — she’s going to be very offensive-minded.
BM: Who are some of the other girls you’re looking at in different positions?
SS: Some other people that I’m confident with are Brittiny Griffith and Savannah Ford, Katie Bustin I really like and Katelyn Grazan. I do feel confident with Abigail Hahn somewhere in the backfield and I’m also very confident with Shenyele Groff in the backfield. Katie Bustin is definitely going to be one of my midfielders and I believe Katelyn Grazan at this point will also be a midfielder. (VanBlargan and Daniel) will be in the middle of the field. Paige is an offensive center mid and VanBlargan is a defensive center mid.
BM: How many midfielders will you have?
SS: I guess if you look at it from that viewpoint, four, although we call Paige a deep forward, we call VanBlargan an up back, but essentially, it’s about four mids.
BM: Who do you have in goal?
SS: Right now, Corissa Landis will be our goalkeeper. She’s doing well. She had a bit of a run for her money when a field player decided to step in as a goalie, but I think she’s realized that she needs to step it up and she’s doing very well now.
BM: How do you see yourselves in the Section Two mix?
SS: As much as I don’t want to get into trouble for bad talking Cocalico, I do think that we have a very good chance at giving them a run for their money this year and maybe regaining a Section title from them. So we’ll see.
BM: Who else do you see as being teams that you’ll have to overcome in that Section?
SS: I do think Cocalico is obviously going to be the toughest, but Ephrata is probably going to put on a good show as well. So we’ll have to work hard for them as well.
BM: So you would say that you’re optimistic about your squad this year?
SS: I’m definitely optimistic. Sometimes their passion isn’t exactly where I want it to be, but like I said, they’re hard workers and if I ask them to do something, they’ll say, ‘Coach, exactly how do you want me to do it?,’ and it will all be taken care of.
BM: Would you be disappointed if this team didn’t make the playoffs or make a playoff run?
SS: Yes, I would be very disappointed. I think they are very capable of a playoff run, both in the L-L League and Districts.
BM: Is that a statement about what you think the talent-level is on this team?
SS: Yes, I definitely think they’re more than talented enough to make that playoff run and hopefully get a little further than they have in past years.
BM: Do you have any concerns about the team at this point?
SS: They kind of figured out that I don’t like to lose (laughing). Very quickly they figured that out. That was good for them to learn and they’re hard workers and they want to please people, especially people they seem to like. And they’re very anxious to get underway with the season and show people what they’ve been working on.
BM: What would you say are the strengths of your team this year?
SS: The leadership is phenomenal. I couldn’t ask for a better set of seniors or a set of captains. They’re just doing very well pulling together and helping each other out when one might be falling a little bit behind. So I’m very impressed with their communication and their leadership and I think that will take them very far. This year’s captains are Brittiny Griffith, Savannah Ford and Morgan Mummau. All the seniors, not just the captains, do a good job (with the leadership), and there are some juniors who I’ve been very impressed with their leadership skills as well. More LADY BARONS, page B-2