Luft says Wissahickon field hockey team jelling

Posted: September 12, 2011

Even though first-year coach Lauren Luft's Wissahickon squad dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Council Rock North in her debut Sept. 2, she was pleased with her team's effort.

"It was nice to see a good game," said Luft, who took over for the highly successful Lucy Gil. Gil stepped down after her husband accepted a position out of state.

Luft, who comes from an extensive field hockey background, said she didn't feel any added pressure stepping into Gil's shoes. Luft previously coached at Archbishop Wood, St. Joseph's University, and Haverford College.

"I have a good squad, and people stepped up," she added. "We're working on jelling together; one game at a time."

She points to the fact that she has three key players - Lauren Becker, Gretchen Guaglianone, and Zoe Kale - among the returnees from Wissahickon's District 1 Class AAA championship team from a year ago.

North coach Heather Whalin was delighted with the win for several reasons.

"We lost to them twice last season, once at the beginning of [the year] and once in the district playoffs. It was good to see us step up against the challenge."

Not good news. It wasn't the news Villa Maria coach Maurene Polley wanted to hear to start the season, but she is confident the Hurricanes will be able to overcome some early adversity.

The Hurricanes lost Meghan Murphy for the season due to a hip problem, and goalie Maddie Joyce likely will miss the first month of the season due to a bout with mononucleosis.

Murphy, a junior midfielder, underwent surgery in July.

If the Hurricanes' early-season play is any indication, they will be very competitive as usual.

"We've have some gaps to fill - it's a little early yet - but we have some decent speed," said Polley, who has watched Villa post wins over Notre Dame (4-2) and Lancaster Mennonite, a perennially strong team from District 3.

The Hurricanes' big Athletic Association of Catholic Academies opener with Mount St. Joseph Friday was postponed because of the weather.

Familiar faces. Two very familiar field hockey faces are in an unfamiliar location this season.

Jeff Harding, who stepped away from high school coaching after leading Central Bucks East to three PIAA Class AAA championship games and a state title in 2002, and former Hatboro-Horsham coach Marie Schmucker are serving as co-coaches at Central Bucks South this season.

Harding, whose daughter Maddie graduated from South in June, said he inquired about the South post left vacant by Christine Ford's resignation. He asked Schmucker, who had returned to Hatboro-Horsham to coach after a battle with cancer but got caught in the teachers' labor dispute with the district, to join him.


Contact staff writer Don Beideman at 267-815-0733

or dbeideman@phillynews.com.

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