Barker Field Hockey Returns 15/18 From Last Year’s State Semifinal Team
If you take a stroll through Barker during the afternoon chances are you’ll hear an oft-repeated, often times yelled, ‘Let’s GO!’
Those two words have become the calling card of a team that outperformed their own expectations going into 2018 and have similar lofty ambitions for the season ahead.
“The thinking is that we want to get going and improve each day and have a successful season,” explained Head Coach Jeff Costello, who enters his eighth season at the helm. “The theme carries through the mental and physical parts of the game as well as off the field. If you aren’t playing well or making good on the field decisions then ‘Let’s Go!’ Pick it up and be better. If you are playing well then ‘Let’s Go!’ Play fast and keep things going.”
The Barker Field Hockey team (17-4 overall) went on a Cinderella run during last year’s post-season; ultimately advancing to the Class C State Semifinal match thanks to repeated last-minute heroics.
Barker didn’t just have success.. they had youth. They return 15 of their 18 final roster players in 2019.
Paige Sandolfini (starting goalkeeper) and Erin Costello (starting defense) were lost to graduation; Miya Goodale, who was called up for sectionals as an 8th grader, has since transferred to Lockport.
Katrina Clare (30 goals, 4 assists) returns for her senior season to anchor the attack. Clare spent the season trading spots with Maggie Kelkenberg (Clarence) atop the Section VI goal scoring leaderboard.
“How do you improve on a season like last year? I don’t know, but she has refined her game and become an even better player,” praised Costello. “Hard work and dedication have put her among the top players in WNY and she is ready for a follow-up to her incredible junior season.”
Fellow co-captain Ciara Gregoire, whose assist to Clare in last year’s overtime victory against East Rochester helped propel Barker into the State Tournament, returns on the attack.
Also returning on attack are Rachel Hurtgam (12 goals, 3 assists), Emily Wagner (8 goals, 2 assists) and Natalie Bruning (6 goals, 9 assists).
Lena Fazzolari will make the transition from attack to midfielder this year to play alongside Madison Gancasz (1st Team Niagara-Orleans League, 2nd team All-WNY) and sophomore Kaedynce Schumacher.
“Her maturity and skill development have been noticeable during our preseason,” said Costello of Fazzolari. “She loves the game and just wants everyone around her to love it and compete as hard as she does.”
Juniors Courtney Hillman and Megan Hotaling will split time as goalkeepers.
The team will also be joined by two players returning to field hockey; Serena Harris and Virginia Alexander.
Alexander, a junior, has impressed her coaches with aggressive play and field awareness.
Harris, a senior, spent the last two years running cross country. She is expected to be a key contributor in the attack.
Barker kicked off their season with a 2-1 overtime win at Medina.
The team will continue Section VI play with a trip to Wilson tomorrow afternoon.