Rockford Field Hockey coach Mark Neumen is excited with Rockford’s sophomore season in field hockey.
In its rookie 2020 season, “We started the year with just 26 girls but by our first game we had increased to 31,” Neumen said. “We were able to field both a varsity and JV team in our first year. Though it took us seven games to score our first goal, we finished our year with two wins and one tie. The improvement as the year went on was tremendous. We had some fantastic seniors and without these four to lead these very young teams, we would not have made the progress we did.
“Our first senior class, Aislynn Aulhbach, Peyton Kerr, Macy Ruchty and Kelsey Neill, are really what kept this team focused. As any first-year team there is much adversity to overcome, frustration with learning particular skills, learning the game and overcoming losing. These girls really kept everyone positive and encouraged each to work harder. These young ladies will always have an impact on our program.”
Senior defender Macey Palmer is like the quarterback for this team.
“Everything really starts with our defense and Macey has been such a great leader for not only our defenders, but also our young goalie Olivia Hewitt and the midfielders,” Neumen said. “Macey is assisted on defense by two other seniors Reese Black and Lauren Huber and Tessa Gregory, a sophomore, who really as a unit help protect the cage and keep us in the game. Sophomore goalie Oliva Hewitt has really worked hard and has done an outstanding job transitioning from a lacrosse goalie to field hockey and we look forward to watching her play as the season progresses.
“We have a lot of young talent in our midfield group which has been a blessing so that it provides us much needed depth. This group of midfielders is led by two seniors Piper Riley and Ava White. Much like our seniors from last year, they will be the catalyst for our team on keeping the positive and focused throughout the season. Senior Maddy Mill will also get considerable playing time at midfield and we look to her leadership and energy on the field as well. We are really excited with our juniors and sophomore midfielders who continue to learn and improve each day.”
The Rams have good experience with juniors Issi Osborn, Mckinley Collins and Alexis Neumen. They played a year at Forest Hills prior to the Rockford team being formed. “We are really looking forward to these three on our improved play in transitioning and their ability to score and create scoring opportunities,” Neumen said. “In our forward positions we are looking to juniors Myah Schultz, Avery Schueller and Jordan Kerr along with sophomore Hope Deuel to add to our scoring totals this year.
“This outlook for this year is really promising. We have some great leadership and a very athletic team that continues to improve each day. We look to improve against our higher division opponents and strive to finish in the top two in our Division.”
Neumen likes his team’s athleticism and depth.
“We have grown in just one year from having 31 girls play at the high school level to 41 girls this year, 23 on varsity,” Neumen said. “There is a lot of excitement within the program, which is translating to our energy at practice. These girls may be still learning but that are a super hard-working group. Being only our second year we are really still learning field hockey IQ. Our stick skills are improving but really understanding the game and how it’s played is the area we are looking to improve upon the most.”