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  • Mason Frechtel scored one of Chesapeake's eight goals in a win over Atholton on September 12.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Mason Frechtel scored one of Chesapeake's eight goals in a win over Atholton on September 12.

Small Numbers, Big Deal: Chesapeake Girls Making The Most

Colin Murphy
View Bio
September 20, 2017

The difference between teams that make a deep playoff run and teams that don’t goes beyond just skill. Sometimes, depth is a major factor.

That’s one factor that makes this year’s Chesapeake field hockey team even more impressive. With just 15 varsity players and 39 in the program overall, the Cougars proudly cast their lack of depth as a strength. To them, it’s a badge of superior fitness.

“We have low numbers, so all the running we do really helps us build a strong team,” said junior midfielder Eryn Beal following the team’s 8-0 win over Atholton on September 12 in which the Cougars had their regular number of subs: three. “You’re running and running, and you don’t have time to stop. It’s just conditioning, and doing your best.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Chesapeake field hockey vs. Atholton, 9.12.17

Doing their best has translated to success early in the season. The win over Atholton was the Cougars’ first this season over Howard County competition — as new members of the county’s A tier, Chesapeake plays the top teams from Howard County instead of the bottom teams from Anne Arundel County — and came on the strength of four goals by Rachel Fleig, two goals and an assist by Beal, a goal and an assist by Hannah McKeon and junior Mason Frechtel’s first goal as a member of the varsity team. Goalies Eve Vickery and Alexis Wade (one save) combined for a shutout behind the stout defense of Riley Sullivan, Logan Beal, Tatum Schatt, Leah Evans and Madison Hoyer.

The Cougars stayed in county on September 14 for a tough match against Old Mill — a program that has experienced its own rise in recent seasons — and grinded to a 3-0 win after leading 1-0 for most of the game. Eryn Beal notched a brace in the victory over the Patriots, while Logan Beal had an assist and Fleig scored a goal.

A 6-1 win over Manchester Valley and a 2-1 loss to Severna Park preceded the Atholton and Old Mill wins at Chesapeake’s home tournament. The loss to the Falcons came when Chesapeake was missing two starters due to ACT testing and prematurely deployed the plan of bringing JV girls up to the varsity, which coach Joan Johnson knows she will have to do to provide the team some depth as the season progresses.

“There are a few girls that are just about ready, and we’ll work them into the lineup,” she said. “[Because of our lack of depth] we have to work [smart], not harder. We have to make the good passes. We don’t want to make it exhausting on ourselves. … We try to work on playing simple hockey, simple passes. Our numbers are still small until we have girls ready to work up.”

On a team of only 15 playing at an elite level, everyone makes and impact, as the aforementioned girls plus Alexis Arruda, sophomore Shelby Bennoit, senior Bridgette Tayman, and freshman Georgia Spangler all provide valuable minutes for the Cougars.

Johnson is glad to see the team playing pretty well in the early going, though she knows the road is not easy.

“It was really nice to see other girls score [against Atholton],” said Johnson. “It’s nice to know that we got our first Howard County game under our belt, moving up to the A tier. Not that I take any of the other ones lightly or for granted.”

Frechtel said the small numbers offer another added benefit: a close-knit group.

“I think our team, we have a lot of chemistry, so we’re all working well together, making good bonds,” she said. “I think that helps coming together on the field and winning games.”

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