Girls Varsity Field Hockey
WEST PITTSTON — Make no mistake, Wyoming Area’s field hockey team is fast.
But, its players are strong, too.
Makenzie Switzer and Kayla Kiwak showcased that strength Monday, as the Warriors’ all-state duo fired a pair of rockets into the cage in the first half of a 3-0 win against Crestwood in Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 action.
“We’ve been working all summer on our shots, both strong and reverse,” said Wyoming Area head coach Erin McGinley. “We got some weighted balls that we practice with; hitting a weighted ball and then hitting regular-sized field hockey balls, it makes a difference.”
After Monday’s first quarter, tied at 0, McGinley urged Switzer to use the strength she’d built up during the preseason.
“There’s the lane, all day, they’re giving you the space,” McGinley told Switzer. “Take it and go.”
Switzer followed that guidance to a T, gaining possession just outside the circle and powering into it before launching a slap shot through the defense and into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
“I think using the weighted balls just trains our field hockey muscles to be used to the heaviness,” Switzer said. “When we go back to the regular balls, it’s easier for us.”
About 10 minutes after Switzer’s score, Kiwak took her turn, smashing a reverse chip into the goal.
Kiwak isn’t exactly sure how hard she hits a ball, as she’s unaware of any readily available technology that allows field hockey players to chart their hit speed like baseball pitchers.
“I think it’d be really cool if they could figure it out,” Kiwak said. “I actually read an article online that a USA men’s player has a shot of, I think, 110 mph. Mine’s nowhere near that.”
Humble to some degree, Kiwak, a senior who’s verbally committed to Indiana, is as good as anyone in the WVC when it comes to finishing their shot.
“If it’s on-cage, it’s probably going to be in the back of the net,” McGinley said of Kiwak’s scoring abilities.
Crestwood rallied at the end of the third quarter, forcing three consecutive penalty corners. However, goalkeeper Carly Saranchuk and the Warriors’ shutout remained intact after Crestwood clanked a pair of shots off the left and right pipes.
Wyoming Area (3-0, 2-0 Division 1) added one more to its tally in the fourth quarter, when Toni Minichello scored her team-leading sixth goal on a Kiwak assist.
Wyoming Area returns to action Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. at home, when the Warriors host Wyoming Seminary in a rematch of the last two District 2 Class A championship games. Sem won both.
Anchored by a strong group of upperclassmen, as well as more hands on deck in the coaching staff (including assistants Melanie Leo, Anna Dessoye, Lizzy Dessoye, Kerryn Redcay, Zoe Prutzman), Wyoming Area figures to have as good a shot as ever when it comes to possibly beating Sem.
“We’re so excited. We can’t wait,” Switzer said. “I can’t explain to you how excited we are.”
Crestwood dropped to 0-3 with the loss, but goalkeeper Isabella Caporuscio played well, making 14 saves.
SECOND QUARTER: Makenzie Switzer (WA) unassisted, 11:22; Kayla Kiwak (WA) unassisted, 1:53. FOURTH QUAURTER: Toni Minichello (WA) from Kiwak, 2:53.
Shots: WA 19, Cre 6. Corners: WA 10, Cre 7. Saves:WA (Carly Saranchuk) 6, Cre (Isabella Caporuscio) 14.
Wyoming Area Coach: Erin McGinley 2019: 20-3-1; lost to Wyoming Seminary, 2-0, in the District 2 Class A championship game; lost to Oley Valley, 2-0, in the PIAA semifinals. Players to watch: Senior Kayla Kiwak, fwd. Juniors Megan Beppler, def.; Toni Minichello, fwd.; Makenzie Switzer, mid. Coachs outlook: We are extremely excited to see all the season has to offer for this team. Theyve really put all the extra work in this summer, training and learning to execute new concepts and skills. We also have more depth than weve ever had. Its very exciting having a lot of underclassmen who are learning and developing, and some of which will be an asset to this years current varsity team. We keep telling the kids, Live in the moment, because in the current dynamic, we dont know what the future holds. Allow yourself to shine bright.
Wyoming Area field hockey coach Erin McGinley has reason to be proud of the recent past and enthused about both the present and future. The Lady Warriors had the most successful season in school history in 2018, then topped that in 2019, advancing a round further, into the state semifinals while losing only to a pair of state finalists. Wyoming Area enters this season with two first-teamers and two second-teamers returning from the Pennsylvania Field Hockey Coaches Association Class A all-state team. Their presence should leave the Lady Warriors positioned to again challenge defending state champions Wyoming Seminary and Wyoming Valley West for Wyoming Valley Conference supremacy. As for the future, the players rising from a successful junior high program, will allow Wyoming Area to play a full junior varsity schedule for the first time in McGinleys four years as head coach. We have underclassmen that showed up all summer long, McGinley said. They put a ton of work in this summer and this preseason to get ready. Kayla Kiwak, a senior center forward, is a two-time, first-team, all-state selection. Mackenzie Switzer, a junior defensive center midfielder, joined her on the first team and is heading into her third season as a starter. Right forward Toni Menichello and center back Megan Beppler, two more juniors who have started since their freshman season, were the second-team, all-state picks. They are just some of the returnees from a team that went 11-1-1 in Division 1 of the WVC and 20-3-1 overall. Bianca Pizano, who started as an outside midfielder as a freshman, is ready to move into the attacking center midfielder role for her sophomore season. Sophomore left back Morgan Janeski is another returning starter. Alexys Moore, the first player off the bench at both forward and midfield last season, takes over at left midfield. She is a sophomore. The freshman class includes projected starters Nina Angeli at right forward, Samara Campenni at right midfield and Alyvia Yatsko at right back. With an all-state goalie Ellie Glatz on the varsity, Wyoming Area kept current sophomore Carly Saranchuk on the junior high team last season to gain more experience at the position. She has put in the extra time in the offseason to be ready to take over the position. Once voluntary offseason workouts were approved to start July, McGinley said her team was able to prepare uninterrupted and get more time together than some other programs. She hopes that has the Lady Warriors ready to go for the start of league play Wednesday night at Hazleton Area. The team did go without a head-to-head scrimmage and a multi-team scrimmage because of adjustments for the coronavirus. McGinley said the emphasis has been on adding six non-league games for the full 18-game schedule, if there are not any interruptions. They will meet Hazleton Area and Lake-Lehman, divisional opponents, in an extra game as part of that non-league schedule. I just think its going to be an exciting season because so much is unknown, McGinley said. The kids are kind of relishing every moment they get to play and be on the field, because it is uncertain. Theyre not taking it lightly.
Wyoming Area 7, Hazleton Area 0 At Hazleton Area, Toni Minichello led Wyoming Areas offensive outburst, scoring five of the Warriors seven goals. Kayla Kiwak and Bianca Pizano each added a goal and two assists. FIRST QUARTER: Toni Minichello (WA) from Nina Angeli, 12:58; Kayla Kiwak (WA) from Bianca Pizano, 3:47. SECOND QUARTER: Minichello (WA) from Kiwak, 7:06; Minichello (WA) from Kiwak, 5:22. THIRD QUARTER: Minichello (WA) unassisted, 11:19. FOURTH QUARTER: Pizano (WA) from Karamia Marranca, 6:34; Minichello (WA) from Pizano, 1:42. Shots: WA 9, Haz 1. Corners: WA 5, Haz 2. Saves: WA (Carly Saranchuk) 1, Haz (Elaina Ashman) 2.