Every coach dreams of having a player who inspires other players and who brings out the best in her teammates. Kate Cocco of the Council Rock South hockey team is just such a player. In her four years as a varsity starter she has helped the Golden Hawks remain a force in the Suburban One League.

Kate’s statistics are impressive in themselves. She earned Suburban One League first team honors in both her sophomore and junior year. Her junior year she netted 20 goals and recorded 11 assists. That year she helped the Golden Hawks finish second in the league and earn a spot in the district playoffs. This year she has already scored 16 goals with 9 assists. South currently boasts a 6-2 league mark, good enough for another shot at the post season playoffs.

Ironically, Kate got a somewhat belated start to her hockey career. “All my life I basically played soccer and then when I got in middle school my coach Scott Mills got me to play field hockey. My older sister played field hockey and said she loved it so I started playing in seventh grade. Then I started playing club for the Mystx in ninth grade.”

Kate found hockey best suited her athletic persona. “I felt I was better at it. I had good hand-eye coordination so I was good at pulling around girls. Also, I really liked the girls on the team because they’re really fun to be with.”

Watching Kate maneuver up and down the field, weaving in and out of opponents, and getting off precision passes to her teammates, you would think her stick was a mere extension of her body. She, however, admits it took a bit of learning to master the basic skills. “The hardest part was definitely getting use to using one side of the stick and having to turn it every time you pull.”

Having mastered the basics, Kate could blend her talents into a total team effort. “I play center forward. I help spread the field out, distribute the ball, and then if I get an opportunity, I’ll go to goal with it or pass it off or at least try to get a corner.”

Recognized as one of the SOL’s premiere players, Kate naturally draws a lot of attention. “Usually there is a girl following me. It’s kind of annoying. It gets to me a little bit but I just try to cut as much as I can to try and get open and create spaces for the other girls so we can get a chance to make something happen.”

As one of the team captains, she is more concerned with how her team performs than any “annoyance” she might experience. She feels lucky to be surrounded by such a dedicated group of girls. “We bonded really well. All our personalities just gel together. I think our defense is really good especially Lauren Mitchell. She holds the defense together back there. Our goalie, Karlie McCloskey, is really good. She saves a lot of shots.”

With Kate at the helm, the offense has also carried it’s load. So far this season, they have recorded 10 games where they scored three or more goals. Kate feels this successful string started with the Golden Hawks first game against archrival, Council Rock North. “I feel when we beat North for the first time (3-1 on September 20th) it gave us hope and we really felt we could make playoffs and have a good season.”

The Golden Hawks had a second chance to take on North in their rematch on October 15th. For Kate, that night at Walt Snyder Stadium bore dual significance. “It was important especially since it was Senior Night. Just playing North for the last time was kind of a bitter-sweet moment because it was the last time playing our rival.”

South gave early notice that they were ready for any challenge. Keeping the ball at the Indians half of the field almost the entire first half, they peppered North’s net for four scores. Nine minutes into the game Kerry Kaufman scored off an assist by Kate Cocco. Ten minutes later, Cailey Hiscox found the back of the Indian net. Two more goals by Lauren Mitchell and Kate gave the Golden Hawks a commanding 4-0 lead at half.

The team had lived up to their pregame strategy. “We played really well in the game before so we were basically trying to play that way again. Just trying to get the ball down on their end was key. We were trying to get as many corners as we could and then hit the post players to get it in.”

The 5-2 conquest of North was especially satisfying for Kate. “It felt great especially since it was Senior Night and the last time we’re playing North. To get a win for our last league game felt really good. Being our last regular season home game made it really special.”

Kate’s leadership will undoubtedly motivate the Golden Hawks as they head into the District and State playoffs. She truly is an inspiration for her team.

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