Field hockey team expect a strong season

By James McDonall

This is their season — the University of Calgary Dinos field hockey team plan to climb to the top this year. The 2011 squad is a confident bunch with coach and players alike excited about their potential.

“I think we can medal, without a doubt, at nationals,” said goalkeeper Stephanie Petrowitsch. “There’s a good chance that if we all stay focused and we all bring everything we need, then we’ll win.”

An important factor for success this season is continuity. Player turnover is a fact of life for all university teams, but this year’s Dinos squad lost only two players from last year’s roster, giving 2010 Canada Interuniversity Sport coach of the year award-winner, Jenn Swagar, cause for optimism.

Anticipating improvement from last year, Swagar said “I expect that we are in the top two in our conference and a contender at nationals.”

Strength and conditioning coach Jeremiah Barnert kept the girls busy with dry-land training and practice games over the summer.

“They were training between three or four times a week in the weight room and on the track,” he said. “They were playing in fairly competitive leagues once or twice a week. Then once we got into August we basically started our training camp and now [that] we’re into September we’re gearing up for nationals.”

Swagar expects a very strong year from the squad as a whole. She believes this year’s Dinos are the fastest team in the conference and feels the strength of the team comes from their ability to step up at any time. She said any of the starting 11 players has the finesse to carry the team, but a few players to watch out for are midfielder Courtney Campbell; forward Kaitlyn Longworth; and defender Carolina Romeo, who will be a consistent source of frustration for opposing teams. Campbell and Romeo were named first- and second-team All-Canadians in 2010.

Petrowitsch is excited for the year to start. “This is what all five years have been building up to — we’re right where we want to be.”

She feels the key to success is continuity and staying healthy.

“It looks like we’ll have two new players crack the top 16, and we’ll carry some people for ‘red shirts’ because injuries can happen in field hockey,” she said.

She admits to some injuries herself. “I became good friends with everyone in athletic therapy over the past five years — they’re great! [We are] doing everything we can to ensure that we go into the season healthy and that injuries are dealt with when they first come up.”

Swagar said the team’s finesse is important in order to face any opposition.

“My philosophy of field hockey is that all 11 players have to be able to do all the skills,” she said. “Whether you’re a forward or a defender you need to be able to high-point, cycle or drag.”

She said, “the game today is so fluid that simple, positional play is not always relevant — the best teams can do it all.”

The first game of the season is Sept. 17 against the Victoria Vikes. The Dinos’s record against the Vikes in the past has been consistent with two wins, one tie and one loss last season. Swagar likes the Dinos’s chances against the visitors’ “congested” style of play as long as the team can outrun and outplay them.


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