Field hockey aiming for late-season playoff push
The Whitehall field hockey team has settled into a nice groove midway through the season, putting themselves in position for a district playoff push.
They’ve won three out of their last four games, raising their season record to 4-6. They’ll look to extend that streak with four games this week. The toughest of those tests will be against Liberty who are currently 8-3 as of Sept. 21, along with Stroudsburg who sits at 6-4.
While it’s been a good stretch, head coach Jennifer Bodnar said that she’s still looking for them to put together a full 60-minute game. Additionally, she’s still looking for that signature win this season.
“That’s the challenge this week,” she said.
After losing to Liberty on Saturday, who were 7-3 heading into the game, the Zephyrs have Stroudsburg (6-4) looming on Thursday. They represent the type of team that will require that full 60-minute effort.
“We need to get one of the 50-50 matchups in the books,” said Bodnar.
During that stretch of four games, the Zephs have found the back of the cage 19 times. Their offensive surge has been spearheaded by senior Maddie Trocki. Trocki has been on a tear lately, netting 11 goals in their last four games.
In their win 5-0 against Pleasant Valley, she had four goals. She followed that with three tallies in their 9-0 win over the Canaries.
While goal scoring will always generate headlines, Trocki fashions herself as a player who’s main role when she takes the field is setting up other players. It’s her first thought when she has the ball on her stick in the offensive zone.
“I try to find the right pass to my teammate to make us more successful,” said Trocki. “More assists makes us a better team.”
Trocki had an assist in the win over Allen as Whitehall pounced on the Canaries as soon as the second half whistle blew to put the game on ice. They scored three quick goals as Jenna Rohrbaugh, Olivia Mittura and Trocki all collected goals within the first few minutes. Rohrbaugh, who finished with two goals, was able to free the ball from the scrum in front of the net and jam it behind the Canary keeper for their sixth goal. Additionally, Olivia Hines finished with two goals, while Mittura and Mya Frana each added a score.
Goalkeeper Mackenzie Holubowski earned a shutout in the win.
Trocki said that if the opportunity arises, she will take the shot, but her initial instinct is to look for to see if one of her teammates has a better opportunity. It’s how she plays the game.
Bodnar said that Trocki has a great skill set and is one of the best players in the league with the ball on her stick.
“There are few players who can match her stick skills and speed,” said Bodnar. “The girls really rely on her.”
Bodnar said that the senior’s continually keeping them in games with her ability.
With eight games remaining as of Sept. 23, Trocki believes that reaching the postseason will take a big team effort.
“It comes down to how much we want it,” she said.
They missed the district playoffs last season, and the senior would like to qualify in this her final season with the maroon and gold.
She said that they have the potential, and it’s now it’s a matter of putting that potential into practice.
That potential was on full display when they lost 4-2 to undefeated Parkland on Sept. 10. Trocki said that the game gave them a big confidence boost and showcased what they’re capable of achieving as a team.
“It just shows that we’re a good team and we have the potential to win.” said Trocki.
The senior said that they’re a young team that needs to stay focused and eliminate any distractions. She said it’s important to get a consistent effort from everyone every time they step on the field.
“We have to go in with the mentality that every game’s winnable,” said Trocki.
Trocki has been playing field hockey since seventh grade and has been a varsity starter since her sophomore season. This year she wasn’t to be able to lead them back to the postseason and said that she needs to do her best in order to achieve that goal.
Whether it’s putting the ball in the cage, or assisting on her teammates’ goals, Trocki is looking forward to a strong finish to the season that will position them for a playoff berth.