Barker preps to defend field hockey titles

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 24 August 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Mike Wertman – Anchoring the lineup for the defending champion Barker field hockey team is this group of returning starters. In front are Erika Moeller, Melissa Grosshans and Caitlyn Mason. In back are Gabby Clare, Kelsey Blackley, Madison Greenwald, Morgan Brown and Alexandra VeRost.

It’s probably an over used sports cliche but when it comes to the Barker High girls varsity field hockey team saying that the Lady Raiders “don’t rebuild they merely reload” is certainly accurate.

Barker, which captured an eighth straight Niagara-Orleans League championship last fall with an 11-1 record, returns no less than eight of 11 starters from that squad which went on to also win the Section VI Class C championship and the Class C Far West Regional title before being nipped 2-1 in double overtime by Cazenovia in the state semifinals.

Senior attacker Melissa Grosshans, who earned first team N-O All-League honors last fall, along with second team honorees, senior midfielders Morgan Brown and Alexandra VeRost head that returning starting contingent.

That group also includes senior attacker Gabby Clare, senior defender Kelsey Blackley, junior goalie Caitlyn Mason, junior midfielder/defender Erika Moeller and junior midfielder Madison Greenwald.

“We have a lot of experience back,” said Coach Jeff Costello. “It’s a nice group of kids and they really put in the work.”

The Lady Raiders large veteran contingent also includes seniors Renee Levy (attacker/defender) and Elizabeth Luckman (attacker); juniors Erin Greenwald (attacker), Emma Duffy (defender/midfielder), Courtney Bodine (defender/goalie), Becky Stoloski (attacker/defender), Paige Fudella (defender), Kelsie Engert (midfielder/defender) and sophomore Lydia Dewart (attacker).

Barker’s losses to graduation include attacker Olivia Denny and midfielder Heather Mason, who earned first team N-O All-League honors and Brooke Bodine, a second team honoree.

“I like what I see as a team,” said Costello. “We’re really drilling a lot on attacking. The key for them is to use their speed and possess the ball better. When we got into the regionals and the state semis last year we really had trouble scoring and we’re working hard to correct that.”

In order to better prepare, not only for the league campaign but also the postseason, Barker will be playing a pair of games on the turf at Pennsylvania schools in early October, at Fox Chapel and Mount Lebanon.

“We want to do everything we can to get ready for the post season,” said Costello. “We want to get a lot of turf time.”

Barker is scheduled to open defense of it’s N-O title at Kenmore on September 4. The contest will be a rematch between last year’s 1-2 N-O finishers as Kenmore posted a 10-1-1 record. The teams split a pair of meetings as a late season tie with third place Akron (8-3-1) cost Kenmore a share of the title.

Barker’s Schedule

Sept. 4 – at Kenmore, 4:45 p.m.
Sept. 11 – at Roy-Hart, 4:45 p.m.
Sept. 16 – Wilson, 4:45 p.m.
Sept. 18 – at Newfane, 4:45 p.m.
Sept. 23 – Akron, 4:45 p.m.
Sept. 25 – Medina, 4:45 p.m.
Sept. 30 – Kenmore, 5 p.m.
Oct. 3 – at Fox Chapel, Pa.
Oct. 4 – at Mt. Lebanon, Pa.
Oct. 7 – Roy-Hart, 4:45 p.m.
Oct. 9 – at Wilson, 4:45 p.m.
Oct. 14 – Newfane, 4:45 p.m.
Oct. 16 – at Akron, 4:45 p.m.
Oct. 21 – at Medina, 4:45 p.m.