Six seniors will lead Tiger field hockey team
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon last November, the Northwestern Lehigh field hockey team battled Palisades into overtime in the District 11 tournament until the Lady Pirates got the game’s only goal, ending the Tigers’ quest for their third straight district championship.
Goal keeper Gabrielle Gober played perhaps the best game of her high school career in goal and her teammates all played well, but Palisades found a way to shut down the Northwestern offense.
Gober returns this year for her senior season, giving Northwestern one of the best goalies in the area.
In all, the Tigers have six seniors on their roster to give them leadership and a group of players who have come through the system year-by-year and know what it is going to take to win.
“I think this year is one of those years we know we have all the things that it takes to win,” said head coach Lissa Opolsky. “As long as we can get those things together, they’ll meet a lot of their goals that they have. It wasn’t fun for them to not meet their goals last year because they walked in as freshmen and a lot of them were instantly able to make impacts and were able to win championships as freshmen. Not being able to sustain that in their junior year was something that did not lay very well with them.”
“It definitely feels more intense this year since we are the ones leading it, but it’s still the same excitement,” said Brinley Rex, one of the team’s senior leaders.
With a good turnout in the number of players trying to make the team, practices have been high energy and very competitive.
Opolsky had the unenviable task of cutting a number of players so she could get the numbers down to a manageable roster and she knows that some of the players that did not make the team might contribute down the road.
“I honestly believe that if we could field two teams, which we would have the numbers to do, and play them in the Colonial League, that we could hopefully have both teams make the playoffs,” said Opolsky. “I know that’s a lot for a coach to put out there, but we are in a position where we have a lot of talent. It’s just whether we can pull all of that talent together.”
Senior Brooke Page comes from a family that produced two other field hockey players and she has drawn not only on the experience of the other players who are in her senior class and have gone before her at Northwestern Lehigh, but uses her sisters as examples of how to play the game.
“They taught me a lot along the way about hard work and accountability and what it takes to be a good player,” said Page “My family has been very supportive and we all cheer each other on and help each other how ever we can.”
Like Page, Daniella Lister has also grown up around sisters who played field hockey and watched others, including Page’s sisters, handle themselves and taken lessons from them that got them to the top of their game. She is now using all of that input to make her game better and also pass it along to the players coming behind her. Lister will be reunited with sister, Ali, at Adelpi University where the two will again be playing field hockey together.
The schedule has Northwestern facing perennial powerhouse Southern Lehigh twice within a week (Sept. 6 at home and Sept. 12 in Center Valley).
For the team to reach its goals, those games will be among the most important on the schedule.
The Tigers get a rematch with Palisades on Sept. 24 Kintnersville.