In her first year as head coach of the OPRF field hockey team, Jane Graham is already sounding a lot like her predecessor Barb Liles: hoarse.

Graham’s raspy voice can be traced to her team’s positive start to the season. The coach has been busy cheering on the Huskies as they kicked off a new campaign and regime with a 4-2-1 record last week. Keeping OPRF’s stellar field hockey program intact is Graham’s main goal as she takes over for Liles, who in 29 years coached the Huskies to eight Illinois High School Field Hockey Association (IHSFHA) State titles and 26 Final Four appearances.

“It’s been a real smooth transition,” said Graham. “This year’s team does a great job of playing as a cohesive group.”

Graham, a former player under Liles, and the Huskies are looking to improve on last season’s runner-up finish at the IHSFHA state tournament. With 12 returning seniors, the Huskies look poised to be vying for the championship at OPRF on Nov. 3. The team will get a taste of what the tournament will entail when the top teams in the area visit OPRF for a regular season tournament this weekend.

Leading the offense for the Huskies thus far are seniors Molly Sinnott and Lizzy Optholt. As of late last week, Sinnott had four goals, and Optholt two. Junior Nicole Cordero has come on strong early as well, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of OPRF’s 3-2 win over Homewood-Flossmoor. Others back from last year include Emmet Drews, Morgan Flint, Emma Jasinski, Kristin Kwakwa, Hanna Rasche, Abby Rosenwinkel, Meghan Scotty, Grace Shirreff, Taylor Stamm, and Karen Zelby. Returning juniors include Megan White and Janie Brennan.

The Huskies also boast an experienced goalkeeper in Lauren Gonzalez, who was invited up to the varsity level at the end of last season to play in the state tournament. Gonzalez has 19 saves this season.

OPRF is eager for yet another rematch with defending state champ Lake Forest, who edged the Huskies 2-1 already this season.

“We match-up very evenly with Lake Forest, so I think our team has a real good shot at achieving a state title this season,” said Graham. “New Trier is another team that always brings good competition, but I think we’re right there, too.”

The Huskies close out the regular schedule with seven straight home games before the state tourney begins.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...