By Anthony Williams

Coming off of a 12-8 campaign last year, the Bordentown Regional High School Field Hockey team is poised to make a lot of noise in the BCSL Patriot Division with a plethora of returning talent for the 2012 season.

Head coach Julie Reisig has her offense running like a well-oiled machine and is rapidly developing the defense into one of the stingiest units in the county. With a lot of talent and youth, the Lady Scotties may be building the foundation of a sustained run over the next couple years.

After losing the school’s first 100-point player — Melanie Hazlett — to graduation, the Scotties have turned to standout sophomores Caitlin Nitschmann at right inner, and Melanie’s younger sister, Michelle Hazlett, at left wing to fill the void and lead a balanced Bordentown attack. Nitschmann and Hazlett are two of 10 players to have scored a goal in Bordentown’s first five games, with Nitschmann posting four goals and three assists, and Hazlett recording a hat-trick in a 5-4 win over Maple Shade on Sept. 17 for Bordentown’s first home win.

“Caitlin is one of the strongest skilled players I have ever coached,” Coach Reisig said. “She is the fastest player on the team, has an excellent touch, and is doing a great job taking over where Melanie left off.”

The Scotties’ potent offense produced 22 goals in the first five games, with 17 of those goals coming off of assists, much to the delight of their coach.

“We’ve outplayed, outshot and outcornered every team we have played so far,” Reisig boasted. “We are working on increasing our conversion rate, but the statistics don’t lie. We are a great passing team and have players with great stick skills.”

The biggest contributor to the 17 assists the Scotties have recorded so far is senior right winger and captain Emily Meszaro, who leads the county with six assists and orchestrates much of Bordentown’s offense.

“Emily is a role player,” Reisig said. “She knows her role is to bring the ball down the field for us and create opportunities for our offense, and she does it well.”

Despite the loss of D-1 goalkeeper Alicia Carthan to graduation, Bordentown has a very serviceable defense that must continue to gel to compliment the team’s explosive offense. Junior center midfielder Jess Carey and senior center back/sweeper Madi Peppler are tasked with bringing the defense up to speed and have been up to the task in the early stages of the season. Both players are a force on defense, and Carey brings an extra element to the team with equally impressive offensive skills.

“Madi is an absolute wall on the back line, and Jess can dominate the midfield on offense and defense,” Reisig said. “Our defense is still a work in progress, but we definitely have the tools to mature into a solid unit.”

The Scotties understand they need to continue to improve if they want to reach their goals of contending for the Patriot Division championship and advancing beyond the second round in the playoffs, and it starts with its star player.

“We work really hard every day at practice,” Nitschmann said. “I treat every practice like a game so I’m ready physically and mentally prepared when I step onto the playing field.”

Nitschmann is well aware of the shoes she is expected to fill but does not show any signs of it affecting her game time performance.

“I don’t feel any pressure to be like Melanie, but I try to emulate some of the things she did out there, like working hard and being a good leader,” Nitschmann said.

Bordentown is off to a 3-2 start and well on their way to attaining their goals, but will have to avenge two tough losses early on to Delran and Holy Cross, including a 2-1 overtime defeat against the latter.

“Obviously we want to contend for the Patriot Division crown,” Reisig said. “But, as long as we can get better statistically on both sides of the ball, we’ll be all right.”