For the past several field hockey seasons, Pittston Area has struggled to put the ball in the cage on a consistent basis. The 2015 season is expected to be much different.
The Patriots return a majority of their lineup, including some players that can score. Pittston Area features eight seniors that have been playing the game for a long time. Under head coach Caitlin Hadzimichalis, who is also an assistant on the King’s College women’s basketball team, Pittston Area should be able to compete.
“This season will be an improvement on last season,” Hadzimichalis said. “The chemistry of our offensive group has added heavily to our flow of play. We had a tough year last year, but the players returning this year, more specifically our senior class, have been playing together for a long time.”
Hadzimichalis said her seniors have really meshed throughout the preseason.
Returning to this year’s lineup will be senior forwards Alana Platukus and Paige Danko. Both have the varsity experience to contend with some of the better defenders in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
“I expect them to set the tone offensively,” Hadzimichalis said. “They play well together and have been doing a nice job of getting the offensive line moving up the field as a unit.”
Defensively, Pittston Area will miss goalkeeper Liz Baiera, who left the team due to graduation. But the Patriots are riddled with senior leadership on the back end.
Marissa Morreale and Haley Norwillo will anchor the defense, along with “battle-tested” seniors Maria Garibaldi and Julia Stella.
“Marissa has the most experience on our back line and uses that experience well,” Hadzimichalis said. “Haley is a calming force. She is a converted midfielder and does a great job of using her athleticism and she is comfortable carrying the ball in transition.”
Pittston Area’s seniors are Platukus, Danko, Norwillo, Morreale, Garibaldi, Stella, Bianca Mattei-Miller and Molly Walsh.
Sophomore midfielder Hannah Robbins gained experience last season. Sophomore forward Abbie Vaxmonsky, along with Robbins, each had the ability to score, Hadzimichalis said.
“Abbie has a natural ability to find the cage,” she said. “This whole offseason (Hannah) has spent playing and improving her skills and knowledge of the game.”
In the Wyoming Valley Conference, Coughlin, Hazleton and Wyoming Valley West are perennial powers. They’ll test this unproven Pittston Area team throughout the season.
“It’s always a tough league,” Hadzimichalis said. “We look forward to playing them this season to measure our improvement.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick