Sewickley Academy field hockey continues building process
For the second straight year, the Sewickley Academy field hockey team is rebuilding.
Many on the team are first-year players.
The Panthers opened the season last week with a 6-1 loss to archrival Shady Side Academy.
Sewickley Academy was 3-9-1 a year ago.
“We've been struggling to get players,” coach Cheryl Ann Lassen said. “Last year, we had 14, four of whom graduated. This year, about half of the team is playing for the first time.
“Three years ago, I had nine seniors. Now, I have just a few. It goes in cycles.”
Senior co-captains Alexis Bosilovich, Megan Johnson and Grace Meakem lead the Panthers. All are in their fourth year on the team.
“It's been rough, but we're trying to keep a positive attitude,” Bosilovich, 17, said. “The way I look at it, we may be rebuilding again, but since it's our second year (of rebuilding), we have to be better than we were a year ago.”
Johnson, 17, said it's tough giving advice to younger players without intimidating them.
“You sit directly across from a girl and she's so shy, you can hardly hear her,” Johnson said. “Someone like that is going to be afraid to ask for advice or speak up when something is wrong.”
“We want them to yell when they have to and feel relaxed,” said Meakem, 18, who agreed that communication is sometimes lacking.
“We talk a lot off the field, but we have to talk more on it,” she said. “We need to do simple things like spread out, make better passes, do more on penalty kicks — things we can achieve with better communication.
“We need more intensity.”
Since Lassen became coach in 1994, Sewickley Academy has had a winning record. The Panthers last made the WPIAL Class AA playoffs two years ago, when they were 13-4 overall and 11-3 in section play.
From 2006 to 2008, they made the playoffs three straight years. In 2001, they were WPIAL champions.
“Field hockey isn't as popular as it used to be,” Lassen said. “There are more sports now, including soccer, which is attracting a lot of girls who might have played field hockey.
“The interest in field hockey is not there, at least in our area.”
Sewickley Academy is one of 18 field hockey teams in the WPIAL, including six in Class AA.
Lassen is encouraged by the play of senior forward Arianna Carley, who moved to field hockey from soccer this year.
“Arianna has been a great addition,” Lassen said. “She played field hockey in middle school, which helps.”
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.