Field hockey prepping for districts
As the Whitehall field hockey team heads into the postseason, they’ll be relying on the strength of a strong senior class to help them advance through a tough field of competitors.
Two of those seniors who will help them hopefully navigate upward through the brackets in pursuit of a district championship are Joyce Lu and Hallie Kern. The two defenders have been paired together since seventh grade. I guess it’s safe to say that they’re joined at the stick.
Lu, who co-captains the team along with Kern, said that she likes the fact that Kern is constantly picking up her teammates. She’s also accountable.
“You can always depend on her to have a good game,” said Lu.
Lu said that her defensive partner is someone who will work hard to raise the spirits of those around her when thing may not be going their way on the field, and that’s further enhanced by her steady play throughout the game.
Kern said she admires Lu’s strength as a player, someone who can beat a triple team with her strong stick skills and determination. Kern said that once Lu gains control, good luck getting the ball away from her.
“She never loses possession,” said Kern.
Kern also said the Lu leads by example and her positive attitude rubs off on everyone.
“She just never lets us down,” said Kern.
Last season the Zephyrs failed to qualify for the postseason. Kern said that it’s very exciting to return to the district playoffs in her senior season. She said that after habitually securing a district berth prior to 2018, the fact they missed out last season felt so defeating.
“Coming back this year just feels so amazing,” Kern said.
Lu said that making the playoffs felt like their own kind of revenge over what transpired last year.
“Based on us just being able to make it, in our eyes, we’ve had a successful season,” said Lu. “That was one of our main goals this season.”
The season began a bit rocky, and a playoff berth hung in the balance as they worked to get back to .500 midway through the season. But once they defeated Stroudsburg, the signature win head coach Jenn Bonder was looking for, and that turned their season around. From that point they reeled off five connective wins and in the process punched their ticket to the postseason.
Lu said that the win gave them confidence knowing they could defeat the Mounties who’ve beaten them throughout their careers.
“It gave us the mindset going into the more difficult games this season that we could win,” said Lu. “And from there we just played better and more confident on the ball, and as a team, and that really helped.”
Whitehall will most likely play Nazareth in a 8-9 matchup at the Zephyr Sports Complex on Monday evening. The only way that will change is if there’s a shake up at the top of the district power rankings.
Bodnar said the team’s excited to play Nazareth, a team that they’ll be looking to exact a little revenge against following the 3-0 loss in their first meeting. She said it wasn’t a game where they played their best.
“We kind of think that was a stain on our season, that loss, and I think that our seniors are excited to get another home game,” said Bodnar. “I think it’s a good thing to strive for this week, and to kind of set some goals, and to get some revenge from that game this season.”
She believes the layoff will benefit them after falling to Northampton and Moravian to close out the season. They’ll now start fresh and focus on Nazareth.
With the end of their Whitehall field hockey careers looming Kern said that She and Lu have been really close over that six-year span of playing together. It’s that way on and off the field. They shared everything together and she’ll always remember that camaraderie. Kern will also remember the impact coach Bodnar had on her career, starting when she was in middle school when Bodnar would visit her games.
She’ll also fondly remember the feeling she shared with teammates when they found out they made districts.
“It was just such a big accomplishment that you felt like excited for the postseason and the practices leading up to it,” said Kern. “It really felt like you accomplished something.”
Lu said she’ll remember the array of players who played alongside her over her career. While it’s been different rosters, she said that each team helped her learn and grow as a player. She said that her senior year has been special with the team they have and that’s made for some lasting memories.