Indian Creek head field hockey coach Emily Bartz remembers the early years of the Eagles’ field hockey program.
Six years ago, when she started the program in the high school’s first year, Bartz, who played her college career at Towson, had to do everything in her power just to field a team.
“The first few years, I was giving field hockey sticks to girls in the hallway, looking at the lacrosse roster and saying, ‘Hey, what are you doing in the fall? Why don’t you come try out for field hockey?’” said Bartz this past October.
It’s a far cry from where the Eagles stand now. Crediting progressively more intense practices and the slow but steady addition of talent, Bartz has overseen the transformation of the program into its current state as a winner. After dropping their first three contests while playing without goalkeeper Alex Morris, the Eagles won 10 of their last 12 games, including the program’s first-ever playoff win, a 2-1 upending of visiting Friends on October 28.
In the win, Eagles made school history by dominating Friends from start to finish, outshooting the Quakers 30-3. Megan Borneman scored the Eagles’ opening goal off a perfect pass on a corner by sophomore Ashley Leverett. Leverett scored for ICS in the second half, taking the ball the length of the field through the Friends defense and finishing with a hard shot to put Indian Creek up, 2-0. The Quakers managed a goal with four minutes left, but the Eagles held on and possessed the clock away to seal the school’s first playoff victory.
Though the Eagles subsequently fell to Mount de Sales in the conference semifinals, Bartz says that the quarterfinal win over Friends was just another step up the ladder for a program that has improved with each season, despite this being only the team’s second year competing in the IAAM B conference.
“For us to be able to be in the upper group of the [IAAM B] with Seton Keough, Mount de Sales and Maryvale, and beat everyone but them, that’s great for us,” said Bartz. “We’re still not at the point where we can beat those teams. The freshmen and sophomores this year are very good, so perhaps in two years the team will be capable of contending [for the championship]. But even just winning [our first playoff game], that’s a step in the right direction for me. Each year if we can just keep building one step on that, I’ll be thrilled.”
The success this season has come with several additional highlights. On October 14, Indian Creek notched its first-ever win over Glenelg, 1-0, on Alison King’s second-half goal off an assist by Leverett. Outstanding defense by Hannah Garland and Libby Garrison as well as superb goalkeeping by Morris allowed the Eagles to hold on for the win.
Wins over Park and Friends—conference opponents who the Eagles dropped games against last season—are also highlights of the fall so far, as is the Eagles’ 4-1 win over John Carroll on October 2. John Carroll played Indian Creek to a tie during last fall’s regular-season meeting, and the Eagles fell to the Patriots in last year’s IAAM B Conference playoffs, but Indian Creek thoroughly toppled the Patriots in this season’s meeting on two goals by Brennan Davis and one each by King and Kacee Helm. Throughout all of the Eagles’ wins, the team received fine play from Morris, King, Leverett, Garland, Garrison, Helm, Davis, Borneman, Paige Kolbe, Sydney Behling, Sylvia Miller, Meghan Mercer and others. King leads the team and is among county and conference leaders with 16 goals and 10 assists, while Miller (nine goals), Helm (seven goals, two assists), Davis (six goals, two assists), Borneman (six goals, five assists) and Leverett (three goals, six assists) have all posted impressive totals.
Bartz also noted the vision of the administration and the work ethic and bravery of the student athletes in creating a positive environment in which the program can thrive.
“Our kids came to our school to create those traditions of success and set the standards for work ethic for everyone else to follow to help built our program,” said Bartz. “They saw the value in our school for a great education and took a chance on our field hockey program. It’s because of these kids that we’ll continue to be successful. I’ve gone from not having a single field hockey player to having girls shadow at school because they want to come play field hockey.”