The High School North field hockey team is sitting pretty in the CVC’s Patriot Division with a 8-4-1 record, including a dominating 3-0 win over arch rival South on October 7. “The season is going well,” says Coach Shannon Maruca. “We have definitely improved since the start of the season and the girls are playing overall more as a team.” ##M:[more]##
One of the key team members is senior Claire Dysart, who has developed a scoring touch that has added to the Knights’ fortunes. “A couple of my goals were off corners and we have improved in our plays off corners this year,” she says. “I also think I am being a little more aggressive, always going towards the goal instead of just focusing on passing. Once it is in the circle I just take a shot.”
Dysart has also shifted from left midfield to right midfield this season, a move that has made it easier to shoot. “It is actually a big change believe it or not,” she says. “On the right side I feel like I can carry the ball more. On the left side you’re always going with the weak side of your stick and you have to get rid of it right away. Right side I have more opportunity to make plays.”
North opened the season with a 5-3-1 record with wins over Nottingham, Lawrence, Steinert, Hamilton, and Hightstown. Marring its perfect record were a tie with Princeton Day School on September 27 and losses to Notre Dame and Allentown, and Hopewell Valley.
Against High School South, North came out strong, scoring all three goals in the first half. Seniors Jenna Leibowitz, Lauren Lam, and Dysart scored, with assists by Lam and senior Alyssa Forsell. North junior goalie only faced three shots in noting the shutout.
A resident of Plainsboro, Dysart was born in Minnesota, moved to Massachusetts and came here when she was in the fifth grade. Her mother is in financial training while her father works in sales and engineering.
Dysart has one sister, Ann, who is a sophomore on the team. “(Playing on the same team with my sister) took a little bit of getting used to,” says Dysart. “But I was already playing with her on the basketball team. It sounds corny, but I guess since we are sisters we have to know how one another plays. We kind of sense it. So I always know where she is in the field and it is easy to communicate with her.”
A member of the Knights basketball team in the winter, Dysart says she hopes to play college field hockey either at the Division I or Division III level. “I really love sports,” she says. “It’s always intense and very challenging. I’m never bored when I am playing field hockey.”
While she is not yet sure where she will go to college, Dysart expects to major in pharmacy in college. “Definitely in the sciences,” she says. “I want to make a lot of money. I want to be in the pharmaceutical industry, such as marketing and stuff like that.”
Maruca, now in her second year as North’s head coach, coached at Lawrence High School for 10 years before leaving to have her first child. A resident of southern New Jersey, she is a stay-at-home mom during the day before heading to the practice field to coach.
“One of the pleasures of coaching is that it is so different every year,” she says. “There are different girls and a different chemistry. Some years there are more returners than not. This year we actually have a young team. We don’t really have as much experience as I would like. But we are doing fine.”
As the season winds down, Maruca is getting the girls ready for the Mercer County Tournament and the state tournament at the end of the season. “The most important thing now for us is to play the full 60-minutes,” she says. “Not just the first half, not the first five minutes, but the entire 60 minutes.”
But the season has already been a rewarding one for the Knights. “I think everyday we play better,” says Maruca. “A lot of the girls were lacking confidence in the beginning. I think that is changing. So we are always working on something, which is nice, because there is always something you are striving for.”
The Knights only have one regular season game left — at home against Nottingham, on Saturday, October 23 at 11 a.m. — before the Mercer County Tournament starts on Tuesday, October 26 (time and location were unavailable when the News went to press).