A successful field hockey team needs to have talented performers, sound leaders, a balanced attack, and willingness to learn and grow from any mistakes they might make. Neshaminy, who is on a quest to record they second straight undefeated mark in the SOL National Division, certainly qualifies as a bona fide field hockey power.
The ‘Skins currently sit atop the Suburban One League National Division with an unblemished 6-0 mark. Among their league wins are a 5-1 drubbing of archrival Pennsbury, a 6-0 lopsided win over previously undefeated William Tennent, and a 5-0 rain shortened tussle with Council Rock North. Not surprisingly, head coach Traci Curtis of the rival Falcons described the ‘Skins as an “extremely smart, strong, skilled, fast and disciplined team.”
The ‘Skins lopsided margin of league victories can be attributed to two sources. They have a potent offense led by Peyton Ritchey. They also have strong midfield players in Jamie Pennington, and Brooke Cordisco. As a capper, they also have a stellar defense with the agile and experienced Maddie Tiemann manning the all-important goalie position.
All four of these key performers definitely possess the requisite skills. Equally important, they are all senior leaders who can help guide and direct the younger players. Neshaminy head coach Jamie Pinto values the total leadership provided by this quartet. “We have captains at each line. That was not done on purpose but it just worked out this year. We have Peyton upfront to lead. We have Jamie in the middle. We have Brooke playing behind Jamie and leading the defense back there. And Maddie is in the goal. That means we have leadership all over the field. They do a great job helping the players around them.”
From a coaches’ standpoint, that spells a balanced attack. Neshaminy can rely on its offense to score points. If that gets thwarted, they know the defense is there to back them up. According to coach Pinto, Each group does its own part. Defensively they’re stepping up each game. We have some new players back there. We have some freshman who have assumed important roles such as Avery McGinty. We have some key upperclassman like Asia Barnard who are leading back there.”
The balanced look is also obvious on the offensive side of the field. Coach Pinto believes everyone from the linking mids to the high-scoring attackers are performing well. “Offensively the mids do a nice job and the forwards are working hard. Every aspect that we have works hard together and plays off each other. There have been some games we’ve had where the defense hasn’t touched the ball which is fine. But they are always ready back there.”
One attacker, Peyton Ritchey, is seemingly impossible to stop. She cruises past would-be defenders and has an uncanny ability to take advantage of scoring opportunities. In her coach’s estimation, “To have had her for four years has been great. She’s improved throughout the years as she’s gotten older. Her senior year she’s gotten more confident. She’s always had the skills and speed. Now she has confidence in herself and the team has confidence in her.”
In the three games against key league rivals, Pennsbury, William Tennent and Council Rock North, Peyton scored six times. She is already well on her way to vying for a league high in scoring honors.
As solid as the entire Redskin attack has proven so far, coach Pinto believes there is always room for improvement. That is why she makes sure the Redskins engage such non-league powerhouses as Owen J Roberts, CB East and Perkiomen Valley. “I think our losses were key games. We keep building from them. Our losses are from non-league opponents and they are strong teams from strong conferences. That shows us what we really need to work on. That helps us to improve. We have a non-league game then a league game. So, we learn from the losses and get fired up and are ready for the SOL games. If you’re winning all the time, which is great, you never learn anything. Playing tough teams shows us what we need to improve upon.”
Watching Neshaminy play it’s tough to imagine they need any improving. They certainly seem primed for a strong second half of the season.