Most field hockey teams would settle for scoring nine goals in a full week of games.
But this isn’t your mother’s field hockey team.
Evanston exploded for a single game school record nine goals Saturday, Sept. 24, and buried visiting Homewood-Flossmoor 9-0 at Lazier Field. Freshman Sascha Hammond and juniors Gigi Hogan, Makayla Clark and Maddie Nimrod each scored two goals apiece and freshman Sienna Seyferth also scored in the rout.
The outburst probably shouldn’t have been entirely unexpected after the Wildkits improved their record to 5-3 on the season. Rained out of a showdown with state power New Trier earlier in the week, the Kits showed plenty of pent-up energy – not to mention slick stick work – for Saturday morning’s 9 a.m. start.
They also tallied seven goals and five goals in earlier wins this year and that’s the kind of offensive firepower that first-year head coach Annie Lesch will take any day in a sport where a “blowout” win is usually 2-0.
“I think what’s happening is that the three freshmen we have starting (Hammond, Seyferth, Bridget Durkin) are always hungry for goals, and they’re setting the tone,” said Lesch. “And they’re backed up by the older girls, who are our mids and have harder shots.
“I didn’t see this coming today. It’s a pleasant surprise, especially considering that we haven’t played a game in over a week.”
Evanston pounced on the Vikings with three goals in the first quarter – courtesy of Seyferth, Clark and Clark again on a brilliant backhand effort with just 44 seconds left in the period – and built the halftime advantage to 6-0 on tallies by the offensive igniter, Hogan and Nimrod.
Sophomore goalie Bridget Lesch, the coach’s daughter, didn’t face a single shot on goal in the lopsided win.
Annie Lesch is filling in for head coach Jenner Johnson, who is taking a year off for maternity leave, and the former college coach is impressed by the culture that has taken hold for the still-new program at ETHS.
The Kits have built that 5-3 record with only two seniors, co-captains Sofia Rocca and Anna Marks, on the varsity roster and could be looking at a high seed for the upcoming Illinois High School Association state tournament if they can survive a gauntlet that includes games against New Trier, Lake Forest and Chicago Latin the week of Oct. 10.
“I was willing to help out because I have coached in the past and I have two daughters in the program,” said Lesch. “Everyone on this team is really supportive of one another and I think we have a nice culture here. People are not afraid to make mistakes because no one points a finger when they do.
“These girls are always positive even when others make mistakes. Our practices get really competitive, but when practice is over, they’re back to being supportive teammates again.”
Lesch pointed to another junior, Julia Newbold, as someone she expects to be a key contributor the second half of the season.
“Julia is someone who has really stepped up for us as an unsung hero,” said the coach. “She can play anywhere on the field, she has great composure and she’s a good stickhandler. She has the full game. She didn’t start last year, but now she’s become our secret weapon.”