East Penn Press

Saturday, October 20, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONEmmaus’ Riley Baughman carries the ball up the field during a game against Council Rock North. PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONEmmaus’ Riley Baughman carries the ball up the field during a game against Council Rock North.

EHS cruises to early wins

Thursday, September 14, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The Emmaus field hockey team hasn’t faced a lot of tough competition yet this season. Through four games, the Hornets have outscored opponents by a combined mark of 41-0, including a 12-0 dismantling of Council Rock North over the weekend.

That’s going to change this week when Emmaus gets its first real test against an undefeated Liberty team that knocked off Easton this season, and has opened some eyes through the early going.

While coach Sue Butz-Stavin is happy with how her team has played, she knows that the tests haven’t been too difficult and she’s looking forward to facing tougher teams that will give her a better gauge of how her team is set up for the rest of the season.

“We’ve got to see how we’ll do under stronger competition and under pressure and I think Liberty will probably bring that,” said Butz-Stavin. “They have a very good offensive player with good skills and good strikes on the ball, and awesome speed.

“We’re a little more comfortable in our roles right now and our subs are feeling a little more confident in their play and that’s a big thing. The other thing is keeping our field hockey fitness at the right level, so you’re not seeing too many substitutions.”

Senior Leah Zellner is off to a fast start on the offensive side of the field, having scored 15 goals through four games, with four goals scored in each of the last three games. Riley Baughman has scored nine goals, and Emily Ingalls leads the team with eight assists on the season.

Zellner believes that part of her success comes from players who are setting up her and the other scorers with great opportunities. She also believes that having strong practices has allowed everyone to fit into a role with the team.

“We’re having really good transitions and great passes from our midfield into the circle. We’re getting a lot of opportunities and I think everyone is playing really well,” said Zellner. “We’ve changed a lot and are doing a lot of running and working really hard, with everyone putting in a lot of work.

“We’re working 110-percent at practice every day and putting our heart into the game.”

The early part of the season has been a juggling act for Butz-Stavin because she wants to get her younger players coming off the bench adjusted to their roles with the team, but she also wants to keep her core group of players on the field as much as possible to prepare them for the tougher games ahead.

What she’s seeing early on is that things are fitting together nicely as players figure out just how they can best help the team.

“Our youngest player on the field is Annika [Herbine], a freshman, and she’s still in the learning process,” Butz-Stavin said. “We have some sophomores coming off the bench and we’re trying to give them some varsity experience and build the confidence in their role.

“They practice well together, but it’s different when it’s game day. Even some of our seniors who weren’t starters last year have to settle in and have to be positive and that only comes from within,” said Butz-Stavin.

It’s worth mentioning that a win over Liberty would give the team 60 straight wins, but that’s something that is definitely more important to the fan base than it is to the coach.

Even the players aren’t thinking much about just how far they can take the streak, focusing instead on just being stronger each time they take the field.

“We don’t worry about that,” said Zellner of the streak. “We just stay positive all the time and get out to an early lead, because that makes the game easier.”