Prep Field Hockey: RB High, Del Norte, Poway have talent to play with county’s best
By Michael Bower
All three local field hockey teams have a chance at making a deep run this season.
Rancho Bernardo hopes to stay injury free and bounce back with a run at the Palomar League title.
Poway returns a good portion of its players from last year, which won the school’s first playoff game in five years.
Del Norte also has the experience and pieces in place to take another step forward, after winning its first playoff game in school history a year ago.
The usual suspects are tops in the county: defending CIF San Diego Section Division I champion Fallbrook, Serra, Canyon Crest Academy (now in the Palomar League), Scripps Ranch, Torrey Pines, La Costa Canyon and Rancho Buena Vista.
But all three of the local teams have proven in the past they can compete with any of those teams on any given day.
Here is a closer look at the three local teams:
•Coach: Kate Rudkin, 9th year.
•Opener: Sept. 4 at Bishop’s, 3:30 p.m.
•Last year: 6-12; did not make playoffs.
•Top Players: D, Tiana Miller, Jr.; M, Haley Reagan, Sr.; M, Kathy Rudkin, Sr.; A, Megan Andrews, Sr.
•Outlook: The Broncos look to bounce back from a season riddled with injuries a year ago. They have the talent to do it with Andrews leading the attack and Miller anchoring the defense.
Speedy midfielder Kathy Rudkin, who is committed to Syracuse University for lacrosse, should also provide a spark for Rancho Bernardo.
“Our strength is in the midfield,” Broncos coach Kate Rudkin said. “I usually rely heavily on the midfield and try to work a lot on the transition game … We are looking forward to having a really good season.”
The Broncos showed last year they can play with some of the top teams in the county, beating La Costa Canyon and Rancho Buena Vista once apiece.
Rancho Bernardo will need Andrews to step up as a scorer with the loss of Lindsay Sager, who now plays at the University of Pacific. The Broncos will also lean on the athletically gifted Miller in the back.
“She is the rock of the defense,” Kate Rudkin said of Miller. “She was just so solid for us last season.”
Look for the Broncos to have a turnaround season in the Palomar League and give Torrey Pines, La Costa Canyon and Poway all they can handle.
•Coach: Cindi Lou-Villa, 8th year.
•Opener: Sept. 6 vs. Mission Hills, 4:45 p.m.
•Last year: 12-13; Eliminated in Division I quarterfinals.
•Top players: M, Cassidy Rowe, Sr.; F, Alice Whittaker, Sr.; F, Bri Cassidy, Sr.; M, Ari Kollar, Sr.; D, Sarah Kollar, Sr.; D, Chelsea Hall, Sr.
•Outlook: The Titans won their first playoff game in five years last season and are hoping to take another step forward.
Forward Bri Cassidy is the returning leading scorer and Whittaker is always a threat to find the back of the net.
“I think our offense will be our strength,” Titans coach Cindi Lou-Villa said. “We have a lot of speed, so hopefully we can outrun people with speed and endurance.”
Defender Hall and midfielder Rowe are also returning, as the Titans have a real shot at capturing the league title.
The exit of Rancho Buena Vista from the Palomar League leaves Torrey Pines as the early season favorite. Poway split with the Falcons last season.
The Titans will once again play a tough schedule. They will face defending CIF San Diego Section Division I champion Fallbrook on Sept. 11 and will once again be competing in the prestigious tournament at Serra.
“Every year, we have a really tough schedule and it prepares us for league and the playoffs,” Lou-Villa said. “It helps us get better.”
•Coach: Jason Askegreen, 1st year.
•Opener: Sept. 6 vs. Torrey Pines, 4 p.m.
•Last year: 11-9-1, Eliminated in Division II quarterfinals.
•Top players: D, Madi Reese, Jr.; M, McKenna Grewe, Soph.; GK, Megan Drew; M, Lindsay Stevens, Sr.; M, Alex Godina, Sr.
•Outlook: The Nighthawks are coming off a stellar year in which they won their first playoff game in the school’s short history. The team will return most of that squad, as only five players were lost to graduation.
The key pieces are still in place with Drew at goalkeeper and Stevens and Godina still running the midfield. The latter two combined for 15 of the team’s 33 goals last year. Add sophomore newcomer Grewe into the mix and the Nighthawks have an extremely strong midfield.
A run at the Valley League title is not out of the question, but it will be tough with defending champion Valley Center returning most of its players from an 18-2 season a year ago. The Nighthawks fell three times to Valley Center last year (1-0, 2-0 and 2-1). But expect Del Norte to be in the hunt right to the end of the regular season.
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