HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. ‒ Katarina Zhu and her Hastings’ varsity field hockey teammates hope to pick up where they left off last year, on an upswing.
The Yellow Jackets improved during the second half of the 2011 season, earning a sectional berth. And even though they lost the first-round game, the second-half resurgence gave the Yellow Jackets a positive outlook heading into the offseason.
Hastings approached the offseason, especially the summer, with more determination. Returning seniors Zhu and Kaitlyn Suydan held captain’s practices during the summer, and the turnout was excellent.
“We came into preseason very enthusiastic and very dedicated,” Zhu said. “We also came in in better shape than last year. It was apparent that the girls were doing running outside of practice.
“We did a lot of training during captain’s practices, and that helped. We didn’t want to make it too difficult, but we wanted to do more than we’ve done in the past.”
Zhu and Suydan headline a lineup of seven returning starters. The junior trio of Emily Johnson, Eliana Epstein and Jamie Katz are joined by sophomore Ashley Bannon and freshman Lucy Sedky.
Even though half the team will be comprised of freshmen, Zhu is not concerned. She is happy to see the freshmen turnout, which is higher than in previous years.
“I am impressed with the freshmen’s dedication and willingness to learn,” Zhu said. “They are excited to be here and they are eager to play.”
The freshmen will have an opportunity to fill the spots vacated by last year's seniors, including four starting positions. Zhu said the veteran upperclassmen are helping the freshmen with the transition to varsity. Zhu said the team is in agreement on goals.
“Everyone is taking it much more seriously and we are very eager to play at a higher level this year and we are very eager to improve on last year,” Zhu said.
Hastings hosts Irvington on Wednesday, Sept. 5, in the season-opener for both teams. The Yellow Jackets then travel to Pelham on Friday, Sept. 7.