Warwick girls gear up for the new season

By on August 22, 2018
Seniors on the Warwick field hockey team are (front row, left to right) Leah Graybill, Biz Van Scoten, Brynne McNelis, Caitlyn Grodzicki, and Sage Barnhart; (back, l-r) Marrakech Cunliffe, Alexa Oehme, Catie Brubaker, and Kate Dickow. Photo by Wendy Dagen

Seniors on the Warwick field hockey team are (front row, left to right) Leah Graybill, Biz Van Scoten, Brynne McNelis, Caitlyn Grodzicki, and Sage Barnhart; (back, l-r) Marrakech Cunliffe, Alexa Oehme, Catie Brubaker, and Kate Dickow. Photo by Wendy Dagen

Lately, the opening round of the District Three Triple-A field hockey playoffs has not been friendly to the Warwick field hockey team.

For three straight years, the Lady Warriors’ season has ended at that spot — most recently with a 3-2 loss to Palmyra last October.

The 2018 season marks a new opportunity.

But if Warwick hopes to get deeper into the District fray this season, coach Bob Derr knows there are still some concerns to be resolved.

First and foremost is their goal-scoring punch.

Gone from last year’s squad which finished 12-8 overall (9-3 Section One) are the Lady Warriors’ two leading goal-scorers in Katie Pyle, an Ohio State University recruit, and Adrienne McGarrigle, who is currently playing at Shippensburg University.

The Warwick girls got their first test of the new campaign on Tuesday in a scrimmage against Downingtown East, and Derr’s biggest takeaway was that the goal-scoring issues need addressed.

“We’re having trouble putting the ball in the cage,” Warwick’s boss remarked. “We’re controlling the play, but we’re not scoring.”

Derr was, however, encouraged with his squad’s play during 7-on-7 OT. It was a reversal of their showing in Monday’s practice, when things were what he called “helter-skelter.”

But a week and a half into pre-season workouts, Derr used the analogy of a light-switch to describe his squad.

“I’m not talking about as individuals. I’m talking about as a team,” he said. “Eleven aside is what I have to address. I may just have to move personnel. We have the capability. The talent is there. It’s just making good decisions with the ball. It’s very similar to basketball, soccer, lacrosse and those types of team sports where you have to function together. If you make good decisions with the ball, then you maintain possession and the game goes smoothly. if you start making poor decisions with the ball and you’re turning it over, now you’re going to do another 50-yard repeat back to the other end of the field. That’s what tires you out. We’re like a light-switch. When the switch is on, they’re good. When the switch is off, then they’re struggling. We just have a lot of areas to address.”

Heading into this Saturday’s play day, in which the Lady Warriors will face three teams who advanced to the State quarterfinals last year in Conestoga, Methacton and Berks Catholic, the lineup is still a work in progress for the Lady Warriors.

Among those who have been working on the forward line include Sage Barnhart, Emily Behn, Julia Eshelman, Leah Graybill, Lamya Mejias, Ashtyn Price, and Meghan Quinn.

Graybill and Quinn both played key roles in Warwick winning the 4×100 and 4×400 at the District Three Track and Field Championships in May, so quickness is a strength.

“We’ve got speed. We’re fast,” Derr said.

Competing in the midfield include Kate Dickow, Rylee Diffenderfer, Caitlyn Grodzicki, and James Madison University-recruit Biz Van Scoten, who impressed against Downingtown East.

“I feel our strength is going to be our midfield,” Derr said, “but it looks like I may have to do some moving with the midfield into the forward positions.”

Turning to the backs, the Warwick girls have depth with Morgan Bomberger, Marrakech Cunliffe, Emma Heffley, Meghan Keeney, Emma Leister, Brynne McNelis, and Alexa Oehme all in the mix.

“We’ve got a ton of backs,” Derr said. “I’ve got all those that are there and they’re capable of doing a decent job. So we have a lot of depth (at back).”

Another area where the Lady Warriors have solid depth is at the goalkeeper position, where Millersville University-commit Catie Brubaker and Julia Healy are competing for the job.

Junior Mille Rohr, in her second year in the program is also up and coming.

“Julia Healy is much improved,” Derr said, “so right now, that’s a good battle (with Catie) for the goalie position. Those two are good and they’re different in styles too, which is interesting. Catie is more the aggressive type of goalkeeper where she may surprise an attack player by coming out on them, where Julia is more the stay back in goalkeeper and let’s just see what the other person is going to do. It’s just a matter of who’s going to come out and get the job done consistently.”

Warwick open its season next Friday, Aug. 31 with a non-league game at Elizabethtown, then opens Section One play on Wednesday, Sept. 5 at Conestoga Valley.

Although the team hasn’t talked about its goals for this season yet, Derr believes they have the potential to indeed get past the opening-round of Districts and make a run at qualifying for States.

“Right now, the big question mark is, we’ve got to be able to put the ball in the cage,” Derr said. “My goal is for them to get in the State Tournament. That’s going to take work. It’s not going to be a piece of cake. We’re in District Three and you’ve got to realize, ‘OK, you’ve got Lower Dauphin, you’ve got Penn Manor, you’ve got Hershey, and you’ve got Cumberland Valley.’ Those are all teams that are going to put up a roadblock for you to try to get to that level.”

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