State Crown Has Fulfilled Abbey Woolley's Daydream The Ocean City Star Is The Field Hockey Player Of The Year.

Posted: December 09, 1997

Abbey Woolley loves to fall into a dream-like state.

It won't happen in her calculus class, or advanced-placement statistics, but these daydreams happen often. They feature recurring subject matter and always end with the opposing field hockey goalie retrieving the ball from the back of the cage.

``Imagery is a big thing for me,'' Woolley said. ``I like to picture things in my mind. How a game might go, or how I might play. It's a way that I get myself ready and pumped up for a game.''

Woolley's fantasy world became reality this season. The Ocean City senior forward, who has incredible stickhandling skills and a soft touch around the cage, scored a South Jersey-best 41 goals and paced the Red Raiders to their first state championship.

For her outstanding season, she has been named The Inquirer's field hockey Player of the Year in South Jersey.

``The season went exactly as I had pictured it,'' Woolley said. ``I always dream about scoring goals, but this year was different.

``I really had the feeling we were going to be able to accomplish something big. We got on a roll, and everything seemed to fall into place. First, it was the conference [Cape-Atlantic American Division I]. Then, our first South Jersey title and, finally, the states. It was an incredible feeling.''

Not everyone needed a crystal ball to predict Woolley's success on the field this season.

``You could easily see how much she picked her game up over the summer,'' said Shawnee coach Bobbie Schultz, who ran a hockey camp that the entire Ocean City team attended during the summer. ``She's a gamer. She works hard all the time and has great game sense.

``It's hard to compare players from year to year, but without a doubt, Abbey was one of the players who only come around once in a while.''

Woolley's statistics were staggering. She scored in 23 of Ocean City's 25 games, including an amazing natural hat trick in the state final against High Point. That performance left spectators in awe.

``Abbey took complete control of the game,'' High Point coach Beverly Keur said after the Red Raiders' 4-0 rout in the final. ``We tried a couple different things on defense to try to slow her down, but none worked. It was a great individual performance.''

Woolley's 41 goals established an Ocean City record and ranked second in the state.

While Woolley's scoring talents were well known around South Jersey, there had to be a little secret as to how the senior could score 41 goals after a junior season during which she scored 11.

``Focus and poise, Abbey found both this season,'' Ocean City coach Trish LeFever said. ``She played with more emotion and physical control. She learned how to funnel her emotions. She didn't get frustrated at all.''

Frustration was a problem for Woolley last season, something she acknowledges.

``It wasn't an attitude problem, but I would get really upset when things weren't going right,'' she said. ``I would play out of control, just trying to make things happen.

``Playing under control was something that I really worked on coming into the season. My whole attitude changed, and I think that had a lot to do with my play.''

Woolley's maturity was evident in her play.

While mistakes were few and far between for her, Woolley would hustle back on defense if she committed an error. She made as many great defensive plays this season as she did on offense.

``I felt like I became more of a complete player this year,'' Woolley said.

Woolley gained a great deal of experience over the summer. She was selected to the United States Field Hockey Association's B Camp as well as the USFHA's national tournament and Super Camp.

``The B Camp really took my game to another level,'' she said. ``It helped tighten up my stick skills.''

Her performances at those camps made her one of the state's top recruits this season. After difficult debating, Woolley made an oral commitment to the University of North Carolina three weeks ago. Virginia, Maryland and Penn State were her other top choices.

Again, it was a premonition.

``I always saw myself playing for North Carolina since I was little,'' she said. ``I don't know why, but I was a Tar Heel.''

However, Woolley doesn't anticipate following a career in psychology.

``I don't see it,'' Woolley said.

She is undecided at the moment, but is looking into the business or secondary-education fields.

She's just waiting for a sign.

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