Holy Cross Field Hockey Seeks Fourth Straight Conference Championship

by Eric Meany

KENSINGTON, Md. — Academy of the Holy Cross field hockey coach Jenna Ries does not see recent weather-related disruptions or her team’s busy schedule as impediments to making the changes necessary to put the Tartans’ season back on the right track after an inconsistent start.

The message she wants to convey to her players may take some time to sink in, but her delivery is short and to the point.

“Simple,” she said. “Simple is better.”

Uneven early-season play by the three-time defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champions, including shutout losses to Westfield, Glenelg and South River, has Ries emphasizing the need to solidify the fundamentals.

“We almost have too much skill,” Ries said. “We need to get more into just a simple passing game and back to basics. We’re struggling with just being solid athletes right now instead of field hockey players.”

Even after opening their conference schedule with a 2-0 victory over St. Mary’s Ryken, Ries remained unsatisfied with her team’s play.

“We dominated the game, but it was choppy, not fluid,” she said. “We’ve really got to get back to basics and not let the athleticism dictate what’s happening on the field.”

Despite losing four starters from last year’s roster, Holy Cross fields a deep and talented team. Returning starters Christina McCarthy, Monica Lucas, Hannah Suttle and Jill Genovese were selected for the WCAC All-Conference team in 2010, with goalie Genovese also being selected to the U.S. Junior National Women’s U-19 team.

Ries hopes that some of the tough competition Holy Cross has faced in its non-conference schedule will aid in the development of this year’s squad. Two lopsided losses in the South River Invitational Tournament may have been hard to swallow, but facing top-ranked teams like the host Seahawks and reigning state champion Glenelg should serve to strengthen the Tartans in the long run.

“We need to get out there and get that exposure,” Ries said. “Because we certainly have the talent and the potential to actually run with those teams once we’ve played them a few times and we understand how much work is necessary to reach that level.”

If the Tartans aren’t successful in raising their level of play, there are other teams in the conference that are eager for a shot at the top spot. At Good Counsel, the 2010 WCAC runner-up, new coach Martha Dyer hopes to re-energize a Falcons squad that is replacing all but two members of its starting lineup from last season. Ries also points to the Elizabeth Seton Roadrunners as a team on the rise under coach Bridget Rice.

As for her own team, Ries is not shy when it comes to stating this season’s goal for Holy Cross.

“We hope to repeat the championship,” she said. “But we certainly have our work cut out for us.”


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