Ready to defend WPIAL field hockey title

| Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, TRIB-LIVE

Last year, the Fox Chapel field hockey team won the Section 2 championship and followed that with a WPIAL title. The Foxes entered the PIAA playoffs with a 20-0 record before falling to Lower Dauphin in the first round.

Coach Jen McCrady lost nine seniors from that team, including starters Nicole Susi, Jenna Alexander, Margot Savin, Maggie McIlroy and Christina Brown. There is plenty of talent returning, though.

The group includes junior forward Paige Ryan, who recently committed to play at Michigan State, senior midfielder Meg McCrady, junior midfielder Abby Pitcairn, junior defenders Grace Knepshield and Sarah Fownes and sophomore goalie Marissa Hardiman.

Looking to join them in the starting lineup are senior forward Megan Botos and junior forward Katie McIlroy. In the midfield, junior Mia Jamiolkowski and sophomore Rebecca Klaas, along with senior defenders Krista Spuhler and Megan Eisengart and junior defender Sally Dean, also will be key contributors. Junior Gwynneth Heidinger also will play goalkeeper.

“We have a large group of returning sophomores and 13 new freshmen,” McCrady said. “Looking to make an impact immediately are junior defender Molly Kelly and freshman Isa Lagazzi. We have a lot of athletic sophomores and freshmen looking to fill out the remaining varsity spots.

“Our strengths this season are veteran leadership, speed of play and ability to finish. This is a team with a strong returning core. They know how to win. Most of this team has been playing together for the last three years, so we look for that familiarity to play a large role in our success.”

An area of concern for McCrady is finding the right combinations to put on the field.