Jamie Smith, now in charge of field hockey at Lenape Valley High School was correct with her insightful statement that being a first year coach brings with it both challenges and benefits. Let’s focus upon the positives, which are seemingly plentiful for the Patriots this season. Key returning student athletes to a varsity roster that finished with an impressive overall record of 12-5-1 last year include Sage Berkowicz (senior, goalie, First Team All Colonial Division in 2018), Molly Guisti (senior), Julianna Gentilucci (junior, forward, First Team All Colonial, Second Team All Sussex County in 2018) and Angie Falleni (sophomore, forward, Honorable Mention All Colonial in 2018).
Newcomers local to contribute at the varsity level include Autumn Dachisen (senior, back), Quinn Dachisen (sophomore, midfield), An Nguyen (senior, back), Brielle Sarno (junior, forward), Brooke Proctor (sophomore, back and midfield) and Dara Pellinger (sophomore, back and midfield).
“I am looking at Autumn Dachisen, Molly Guisti and Sage Berkowicz [to be leaders],’’ Smith said. “All are seniors, all are looking to make this program better for the future teams. I am impressed with Autumn's capabilities to communicate to her team as she continues to keep every single athlete, varsity or JV, involved. You have leaders who naturally lead on the field and then you have Molly Giusti. She is one of our strongest leaders off of the field. Her work ethic, drive and communication skills are something I see the younger athletes looking at. Sage is a force on and off of the field. She holds this team to a high standard, as well as herself, and she isn't afraid to push the limits. It's leaders like her who keep the overall energy high and on point.’’
The Patriots won the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Colonial Division crown with an 8-0 record last year.
“I would like to see our team work through being mentally tough, not just in high pressured situations but keeping our intensity, our energy and our drive through whatever it is we are doing,’’ Smith said. “How we carry ourselves as female student athletes off the field will only help us mold together on the field.’’
Lenape Valley competes in the Colonial Division along with Jefferson, Kittatinny, North Warren and Sparta. On Sept. 16, they have a road game scheduled at Kittatinny.
“This year is going to be a rebuilding year for our Patriots as we lost key graduates in our program,’’ Smith said. “We are focusing on rebuilding ourselves from the inside out-rebuilding our leadership, our work ethic and our game day strategies. My goal this season is to have each of our female athletes walk into a pressured situation and be comfortable and confident in themselves. We have seniors who are hungry to fill some big shoes and we have underclassmen who are stretching their limits every day.’’