Northwestern recruit Miller shows the way for Shawnee

Shawnee's Sophia Miller moved from defense to center-midfield this season. RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Shawnee's Sophia Miller moved from defense to center-midfield this season. RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Posted: September 27, 2013

Sophia Miller can score goals. She has 12 through the first seven games of the Shawnee field hockey season.

She scored three in a big win over Washington Township. She scored four against Paul VI. She scored two against Seneca and two against Haddonfield.

But the Renegades' senior captain has a rare perspective on her offensive production: She figures it's more a function of her position on the field than her passion for putting the ball in the cage.

"I'm more of a defensive-minded person," Miller said. "I like scoring goals, but I like giving the team that base on defense, that stability. I think that's important."

Miller is one of South Jersey's top players. She is a Northwestern University recruit. She was a member of USA Field Hockey's U-17 team that traveled to Holland to play a series of "friendlies" last spring.

She will train with USA Field Hockey's U-19 team this winter at the organization's new facility in Lancaster County, Pa.

Miller played defense for the U-17 national team and likely will play somewhere on the back line at Northwestern. That was her position for Shawnee, too, until she moved to center-midfield this season.

"Last year we had Marissa Cutry [now at Maryland], and she played this position," Miller said. "This year I've moved up and have gotten more involved on the offensive side. I'll do whatever the team needs me to do."

Miller's scoring has helped Shawnee to a 6-1 start. The Renegades' only loss was by a 3-2 score to undefeated Moorestown in a fast-paced game on Monday.

Miller was all over the field in the loss. She helped the Renegades take leads of 1-0 and 2-0. However, Moorestown rallied each time and scored the game-winner on the penalty stroke with around nine minutes remaining in the second half.

"I like that we kept our intensity up all through the game," Miller said after Monday's game. "We couldn't finish in the first half, and that was frustrating, but we kept playing hard. This was a learning experience for us."

Miller was born in Canada and moved to the Medford area with her family around 10 years ago. When she was looking at colleges, she was determined to "go North," and settled on Northwestern after attending a camp at the Big Ten school in Evanston, Ill., in the summer of 2012.

"It's a great school," said Miller, who plans to tailor her studies toward a career in the medical field. "I liked everything about it - the girls on the team, the coaches, the competition."

With her stick skills, Miller has shown that she can score at a high rate. But she still takes pride in her defensive approach to the game.

"At center-mid, I try to keep sort of a base as a transfer between defense and offense," Miller said. "A lot of it comes down to communication. I like working with the goalies and setting up the defense and working with the forwards with the offense, too.

"I try to do both to help the team. But it seems like I still lean toward the defensive side, just to help us keep things stable."