BY VIN RAPOLLA
After losing seven starters from last season’s team, it seemed as though the 2004 season would be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Red Bank Catholic field hockey team.
Not so fast.
Last year’s team finished with a record of 18-4, reaching the state tournament final round, and playing in its first-ever Shore Conference Tournament final.
Although this fall’s team may not be the powerhouse it was last season, the Caseys are still proving to be one of the top teams in the Shore, and they’re doing it with primarily young players.
“This year’s team is young, fun and exciting,” said coach Lisa Caprioni, whose squad improved to 3-2-1 with a 2-0 win over Red Bank Regional last Saturday. “We’re getting better with each game and gaining experience.”
The team is being led by a trio of returning seniors. Forwards Andrea Precopio and Kalynn Davies and midfielder Erin Carkeek having been working hard with the younger players to make this season a successful one.
“The seniors have been doing a nice job,” said Caprioni. “They’re working hard trying to blend this young inexperienced team.”
This year’s team is predominately made up of juniors, including back Erica Benn, one of the top defensive players in the Shore. Among the other juniors are forward Meg Pietrunti, midfielder Caitlin Ruffus, utility player Natalie Kuhn, back Carly Walco, goalie Taryn McCarthy and forward/midfielder Meredith Allen.
The Caseys are also relying on the development of a number of underclassmen, including a strong crop of sophomores. They include midfielder Margeau Saboti, backs Mar Brogan, Gabby Conlin and Kerry Griffen, and goalie Allie Thees.
In addition, the Caseys feature a trio of freshmen who have stepped up and adjusted to the varsity level already. They are backs Holly Manucci and Caroline Christopher and forward Brittany Shallou.
“They’ve all been really steady and consistent,” said Caprioni. “[They’re] doing things that don’t show up in the box score.”
With a tough two weeks ahead, Caprioni and the Caseys will look to focus on some of the positives that have kept the team over the .500 mark thus far.
“We’re working hard and hustling, and are constantly learning,” said the coach.
With plenty of regular season games left, and a team that has been steadily improving, the future indeed looks bright for this young Caseys program.
“So far, we’ve been in every game, and things are starting to click,” said Caprioni. “There’s still a lot of season left; hopefully, come tournament time, we’ll be able to get on a roll.”
So much for rebuilding.