The Huntingdon Area High School field hockey team is coming off of its best season since Vickie Schneider took over the program seven years ago. The Lady Bearcats won five games last season in 17 starts.
With all but three starters out of 11 back from 2007, optimism is running high that the Lady Bearcats could even reach .500 this time around, which would be the first time in more than a decade that was accomplished.
The only school that sponsors field hockey in the Mirror coverage area, Huntingdon is one of only two District 6 teams that doesn't have a feeder program. That means Schneider's players are learning on the job. It also makes finishing with six wins or more this season a tremendous accomplishment.
Schneider has three forwards, three midfielders and goalie Natalie Keys returning as the Lady 'Cats look to break their long jinx. They'll find out very quickly how good they are: They open the season on Tuesday against defending district champion Belleville Mennonite.
Coach: Vickie Schneider, seventh year
Last year's record: 5-12
League: Mountain League
Returning starters: Seniors-Kylie Everhart, midfielder; Missy Spickler, forward. Juniors-Chelsie Beck, forward; Natalie Keys, goalie; Danielle Negri, back; Kylie Myers, forward; Sarah Smith, back; Malaree Yablonski, midfielder. Sophomore-Emily Bilger, midfielder.
Other returning players: Juniors-Courtlynn Brown, Brittany Conaway, Caitlyn Crisp, Corrie Crisp, Chelsie Henney, Cassie Riley, Emily Shope. Sophomores-Brittany Bair, Carrie Cerrett, Chelsea Crayosky, Danielle Johnson, Katie Kyper, Jenna Morningstar, Katie Norris, Samantha Smeltzer, Sara Smeltzer.
Newcomers: Senior-Jordan Detter. Junior-Torree Huntsman. Sophomore-Jacob Barnish. Freshman-Kimbre Barnish, Kim Beaver, Shayla Bishop, Jordann Shaffer, Courtney Thompson, Kendra Wilson, Atalie Yingling.
Strengths: ''We have an enthusiastic team that is highly motivated with an experienced goalie and several other returning letterwinners. The players are in good physical condition.''
Concerns: ''There are only two experienced seniors on the team. We need to improve our penalties from last year.''
Assistant coach: Heidi Dunmore