St. Joseph’s Academy field hockey displays its strengths

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org
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The field hockey team this season at St. Joseph's Academy is lean, but not-so-mean — it's tough to be mean with so many smiles.

"We have a much smaller squad than we've had in years past, so our bench players are all very strong" said the varsity team's coach, Claire Aubel. "We have a lot of unselfish girls playing this year, which is working to our advantage. There's lots of passing, so it's not a one-man show by any means this year."

The coach is pleased with the team's cohesiveness, especially knowing that it's a long season. "It's not about wins and losses at this point," Aubel said. "Not until the end-of-season tournament."

Kristen Weber, a senior co-captain who plays forward, said: "We try our best to go 110 percent. At the end of the game, we know we need something to work on at practice. Every game we try to get better, move on and forget about the past and just focus on what's important now."

Every practice she notices that her teammates are smiling, excited to play field hockey. "We go all out every practice and game," Weber said. "I feel like we have that drive as a team."

Despite having an assortment of players from sophomores to seniors, "we've bonded so well this year. Everyone is friends with each other," Weber said.

A 10-3 win Sept. 19 against Kirkwood High School put St. Joseph's record at 10-0-1, equaling that of another undefeated Catholic school, Villa Duchesne.

The Kirkwood game demonstrated St. Joseph's passing skills in moving upfield and finding openings in front of the net. Scoring was led by juniors Annie Genovese with six goals and Amanda Isom with two, while seniors Grace Dressel and Mackenzie Miller each added one goal.

In most games the scoring is more spread out among players, Aubel said. St. Joseph's got off to a fast start, with Kirkwood coming out strong in the second half. "It was good for us to learn how to rebound from that — to take getting scored on and push back," Aubel said. "They're a great team. They definitely gave us a challenge."

Dressel, the other co-captain, said St. Joseph's passing was sharp, but the team lost focus for a bit after jumping out to a big lead. "After a timeout, we got a goal right away," the midfielder said. "Our coach told us, 'Show us the team you could be,' and we saw it as a little wake-up call. I think this game was good for us. It showed we can be scored on, that we aren't a perfect team and that we have things to work on."

Dressel has played soccer since she was in primary grades. When she began playing field hockey in about sixth grade, she picked up its nuances quickly. "It's so similar to soccer," she said. "I just love it. It's such a fast-paced game. All my friends play it, and it's a lot of fun."

Weber, who will play next year at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., also began playing in the sixth grade, following in the footsteps of her sisters. "I love the speed of the game, I love running. I picked it up, and I fell in love with it," she said.

Aubel, a graduate of St. Joseph's, said she enjoys coaching, which enables her to give back to a school that meant so much to her. The players need no coaxing in bringing their faith to their tasks, Aubel said. Before each game, they take the lead in prayer. And they will be starting a charity community service project — a clothing drive — in the next couple weeks

Dressel said her coaches stress sportsmanship, having a good attitude and being responsible and respectful on and off the field. She brings similar Catholic values to the field, "the simple things that we've been raised with," she said.

Weber said she brings her faith to her play by working hard and getting the most of the talents God gave her. 

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