A star on high school, club teams

Moira Putsch , Notre Dame senior.
Moira Putsch , Notre Dame senior.
Posted: September 20, 2013

The tagline for its website is "the choice of champions," an appropriate description of the WC Eagles - the competitive field hockey club in Spring City.

In July, the Eagles won championships in the national club tournament in their under-14, U-16, and U-19 groups. The U-16 and U-19 teams are ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Field Hockey.

In addition to fielding championship teams, the WC Eagles have proven to be a hotbed for local field hockey talent. Sixteen of the 19 members of the Eagles' top U-19 and U-16 squads play on high school teams in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The Eagles have 32 Division I commitments in their 2013 class overall.

Area standouts who play for the Eagles include Downingtown West's Nikki Freeman, Archbishop Carroll's Becca Zamojcin, and Villa Maria's Amelia Iacobucci.

The Eagles' star, however, is Moira Putsch, a senior at the Academy of Notre Dame who turned heads last year with her 45 goals and 25 assists. She was named The Inquirer's 2012 player of the year in Southeastern Pennsylvania and committed to Maryland in the spring, choosing the Terrapins over Penn State, Virginia, and North Carolina.

"Depending on who you're talking to, she's probably the No. 1 or 2 [player] in the country," Notre Dame coach Adele Williams said. "On any given day, she can make something happen from nothing. Her speed is unbelievable. Her hand speed is unbelievable."

Putsch credits much of her success to her rise with the WC Eagles, for whom she has played since she was in the sixth grade. She said her club coach, Jun Kentwell - a former player on the Chinese national team - is "world class."

"They teach us at a young age the skills we need," Putsch said.

Williams said Putsch's story - playing club hockey at a young age and developing into one of the area's top players by the time she got to high school - is much more common now than when she started coaching the Irish 11 years ago.

Williams said close to 90 percent of the players on her team are competing in club hockey and have been since they were in middle school. That's a dramatic change from maybe a handful of club-affiliated players her teams fielded in the early 2000s.

"It's benefiting the sport because you have [field hockey] year-round," Williams said. "It's competitive. It's extremely competitive."

In the Inter-Ac League, in which Notre Dame and Episcopal Academy are the perennial top teams, the influx of premier club players is even more concentrated. Six girls playing in the Inter-Ac are members of the top U-19 and U-16 squads, with five at Notre Dame or Episcopal.

The Irish and Churchwomen split the Inter-Ac title last year after Episcopal won the league outright in 2011. That title ended a three-year Notre Dame run that included an undefeated 2010 season.

Williams said playing in such an ultra-competitive league makes her season goals more clear: The Irish want to win the Inter-Ac title more than anything, even this year's third annual Pennsylvania Independent Schools championship (which, by the way, Notre Dame won the first year and Episcopal won last year).

"I would like to win the league," Williams said. "It's been the thing we've dominated for so long, and we just want to continue our streak."

The Irish will open Inter-Ac play Friday at home against Germantown Academy.

Contact Joey Cranney at jcranney@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @joey_cranney.

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