Local U16 field hockey team fares well at prestigious tournament
While most local fans are focused on baseball and softball now that summer is finally here, a talented group of Wayne County girls is busy making headlines in a sport that traditionally takes place in the fall.
Pursuit Field Hockey is a youth organization based at the Northeast PA Sports Factory in White Mills.
Under the direction of co-founders Grace Manzione and Becca Maciejewski, Pursuit travel teams are enjoying a very successful summer at invitational events all over the region.
On the Road
One of the group's most impressive achievements to date came just two weeks ago at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex, located in Manheim.
A team comprised of U16 elite players from Delaware Valley, Honesdale, Paupack and Hazleton Area traveled to the home of USA Field Hockey June 8-9 for the 2019 Limelight College Showcase.
“This tournament is designed to put athletes in front of college coaches for recruitment purposes,” said Coach Maciejewski.
“The great thing about these girls, and a testament to their skill level, is that half of the team is actually comprised of U14 athletes playing up a level.
“Their camaraderie and respect for each another is apparent on the field. They have a sixth sense for one another out there.”
Pursuit turned in a stellar performance at this elite invitational event. The local lasses powered their way to an overall record of 3-2-1, earning rave reviews from their veteran skipper.
“It was tough. It was top notch,” Coach Maciejewski said. “Our athletes played a skill clinic in front of dozens of college coaches from Division I and Division II. Then, they played six tough games.
“I'm very proud of the effort they showed.”
On the Turf
Pursuit opened its gold medal quest with a game against Lion Pride.
This match proved to be a showcase for the team's youngest player. Hazleton Area's Brynn Newborn, who is just 12-years-old, hammered home both goals in leading Pursuit to a 2-1 victory.
Honesdale's Claire Campen assisted on the first goal. Brynn tallied the second off the goalkeeper's pads on a corner.
Next up for Pursuit was a match-up with Manheim's hometown team and the local lasses turned in another outstanding effort.
Katy Corcoran of Honesdale tallied the first goal. Paupack's Hannah Karp then blasted in a pair, propelling Pursuit to a 3-0 shutout. Campen and Jillian Hoey each notched an assist.
Sporting a perfect 2-0-0 record to this point, Pursuit took the field for its third game and just dominated Reserve Velocity. When the proverbial dust cleared, the local lasses had carved out a 7-0 victory.
Karp was unstoppable in this one, slashing her way to an eye-popping five goals. Campen and Hoey chipped in with one apiece, while Corcoran contributed an assist.
Unfortunately for local fans, the winning streak came to an end in Game Four when Pursuit suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at the hand of a team called Individuals 122.
“This was really a tough battle,” Coach Maciejewski said. “It was back and forth all game long. It was a well-played game of hockey against a team that already has several girls committed to major colleges. This is exactly why we wanted to play here in the first place.”
Corcoran scored Pursuit's lone goal off a corner.
To their immense credit, the local girls bounced right back in Game Five versus another stacked roster. Pursuit dictated play in this one, but had to settle for a 2-2 stalemate.
“That team has a great goalkeeper who really commanded her posts,” Coach Maciejewski said. “We dominated play for the majority of the match.”
Campen scored an unassisted goal, while Karp tallied off a Corcoran pass to tie the game.
This set the stage for Pursuit's final match of the tournament, a showdown with the bracket's top-ranked team. Rapid Fire Elite came into the game undefeated and unscored upon, but our U16s gave them all they could handle.
Campen scored first for Pursuit off a Corcoran assist. Hoey then tallied on a shot off keeper pads. Sadly, it just wasn't enough as the New Jersey-based squad prevailed 3-2.
“Wonderfully played game!” exclaimed Coach Maciejewski. “Great use of space. We almost came out with a huge upset of the number one rated team.”
Over & Out
In addition to a high-powered offense, Pursuit's U16 squad also boasts a bevy of talented defenders.
“Scarlett Schratt, Rozlyn Maciejewski and Olivia O'Grady were consistent forces in the backfield,” said Coach Maciejewski.
“They opened up spaces in transition with their vision and passing. They fearlessly tackled and ignited the offense.
“Scarlett had strength in tackling; Maciejewski strength in vision and passing; O'Grady with her aerial lifting skills.”