Girls will need to step up
The Whitehall field hockey team completed another successful season that saw them earn trips to both the league and district championships.
The Zephyrs achieved those results by posting a 12-8-1 record in 2014. They finished second in the Skyline Division of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, and won their opening round games in both the EPC and District XI playoffs. They accomplished this feat with a team that featured just two seniors on the roster.
Not surprisingly, head coach Emily Repsher would have prefered to keep playing, but she knows her young team had a strong season that gave them the opportunity to chase a league and district title.
"We had an unfortunate outcome in our last game, but overall I thought it was a success," said Repsher. "I'm pleased how it went."
Repsher said the team worked hard all season and that was reflected in their strong offensive output this year. That Zephs scored 73 goals this year, averaging almost 3.5 goals a game this season.
A large part of that offensive clout was spearheaded by senior forward Kourtney Cunningham who finished the season with 28 goals and 19 assists to lead the Zephs. That earned the senior first team all-league honors.
"Kourtney led our forwards this year," said Repsher. "She really had a strong year for us. We're definitely going to miss her."
While Kourtney Cunningham's departure leaves a huge void, the team has a number of players who can potentially step up and assume that role, including forwards Kassidy Cunningham and Kylee Cunningham, as well as center midfielders Taylor George and Cara Bonshak, with Bonshak earning second team all-league this season.
Repsher believes that ultimately someone will step into that role and looks forward to seeing how they adapt next year.
They also lose Tianni Rivers to graduation, a veteran who could consistently find the back of the cage as well.
"She was an offensive threat for us and we'll miss her leadership," said Repsher.
Defensively, the Zephs remain stout with goalkeepers Kayla Naylor and Gabriell Henninger returning. They'll also return defenders Vita Marks and Rachel Schannauer. Schannauer was also a second team selection this season as a defender, and has also shown a propensity to pop it in the cage when the opportunity arises.
"Our back line stays in tact and that will be helpful as we look ahead to next year," said Repsher. "That's definitely a positive for us."
They'll also see the return of Rachel Hibshman, defender Hayley Yandrasitz, and midfielder Caitlin Cunningham that will add to that strong group of returnees.
"We're not losing a lot of experience," said Repsher. "It's nice to have a corps of girls to build on as we look forward to next season."
She was also encouraged by how they battled Emmaus in their rematch at the Sports Complex. After getting blanked in their first meeting by the perennial state title contenders, the Zephs stayed with the Hornets throughout the game, eventually losing 2-1.
"We played a really good game that day and it showed what we can do as a team," said Repsher.
The challenge confronting Repsher next year will once again be having the fall sports overlap for some of her players. It makes it difficult on days the two teams play, but she knows it's a situation they have to overcome.
Still, she has an experienced team that's ready for the challenges ahead in 2015.