Having already matched its 2012 win total of eight, the Arundel field hockey team has taken a considerable step forward this season. At 8-2 through October 6, the Wildcats have notched quality out-of-conference wins over Leonardtown, Seton Keough and 2011 4A state finalist Bethesda-Chevy Chase to go with county wins over Southern, Meade, Glen Burnie, Chesapeake and Old Mill.
Arundel’s two blemishes have both been by one goal, a 2-1 defeat to reigning 4A state champion South River on September 18 and a 4-3 loss to Annapolis on September 26, in which two second-half Wildcat goals were disallowed on controversial decisions by the referee.
Head Coach Carrie Vosburg says the work of the team during the offseason and the girls’ willingness to meet the heavy demands placed on them have been key to their progress this season.
“We returned most of our team. We only lost two seniors,” said Vosburg after wins over Chesapeake and Old Mill during the first week of October. “That makes a big difference. They understand what we’re asking of them, which makes it easier, because I don’t think we’re an easy coaching staff. We have very high expectations for them. They knew that coming into the season, and they put a lot of time in during the offseason as well. I have a really special group of kids, and they get along really well, and I think they really want it.”
The Wildcats’ most recent win, a 2-0 mark on the previously undefeated Old Mill Patriots on October 3, stands out as a hard-earned result against a quality opponent that the Wildcats pulled out despite being without multiple key players who are sidelined with injuries. Old Mill’s stingy defense kept the game scoreless until midway through the second half, when the Wildcats pulled away on goals by Jordyn Harris (assisted by Whitney Ross) and Skylar Grady.
“We played pretty well. We still have a lot of people out with injuries, so a lot of people stepped up against Old Mill,” said Vosburg.
Two days prior, the Wildcats overcame a slow start offensively to eventually surge to a 7-1 win over the host Chesapeake Cougars on goals by Grady, Ross, Sofia Michael, Rebecca Lloyd and three by Ally Pollak.
After games against North County and Northeast in the second week of October, the Wildcats will have the opportunity to put their mettle to the test when they close the regular season with games against Severna Park and Broadneck, and by then they hope to be at full strength with injuries healed. The Wildcats lost 2-1 to the Falcons and 3-1 to the Bruins last season.
As Arundel builds a case for inclusion in the county’s upper echelon of field hockey programs, Vosburg says the next step is for the girls to develop a killer instinct, seize the lead early in games and then put the nail in the coffin.
“In years’ past they didn’t win a lot of games, and last year’s teams struggled with that mental aspect of it, and we still struggle with that a little bit,” said Vosburg. “The games we are losing, we’re losing by one goal, and we’re coming back once we get scored on. That in itself is an accomplishment, because we couldn’t do that last year. So we’re handling and overcoming some of those mental hurdles, and now we just have to be able to finish.”