After a promising start to the season, the OPRF field hockey team had what head coach Kristin Wirtz described as a “disappointing” weekend at its annual Invitational.
With Friday’s matches being postponed due to weather, the Huskies went winless on Saturday, getting blanked by Pioneer of Ann Arbor, Michigan (4-0) and New Trier (5-0), a 1-1 draw with University School of Milwaukee, and a scoreless draw against Loyola. The invitational was won by New Trier as the Trevians defeated Lake Forest 3-1 in the title match.
While certainly disappointed with Saturday’s showing, Wirtz believes it was a valuable learning experience for the Huskies.
“Up to this point, we’ve had a really strong season, and these are the most challenging teams we’ve played,” said Wirtz. “This is a good experience that serves as feedback to figure out what we need to do to step up.”
Despite going winless, there were a few standout contributors for OPRF, most notably goalkeeper Kate Bartall and center back Shealy Callahan.
“I think we had a few people step up,” Wirtz said. “Cate Barkdoll has been a champ for us in goal every game. She had a tough day today, but she had a lot of pressure on her. Overall, I’m proud of her for sticking with it; her save percentage is high and she’s very solid and keeps us going.
“Our center back, Shealy Callahan, has been strong this season,” added Wirtz. “She’s our wall in front of Kate and has been doing a good job for us. Our defense had a bit of a tough day, but overall they’ve had a good season.”
Wirtz feels that the errors made by the Huskies (7-3-3) are correctable. In addition, she believes the rough showing will ultimately help her team.
“We had a breakdown in defensive organization today,” she said. “Winning the 50/50 balls is huge, especially when you’re playing these quick, fast-paced games. Winning them, along with playing possession hockey is going to make a big difference for us.”
“I think it’s important for us to put ourselves in these situations where we’re competing at the highest level, and these teams (at the invitational) are definitely at the highest,” she added. “It’s important to have this now so that we know where we need to go moving forward and what we need to work on so that, come the playoffs, we are mentally and physically prepared to compete with those teams.”
OPRF resumes action Thursday, Oct. 3 at Lakes Community High School, followed by matches at New Trier on Oct. 7 and at home versus Naperville North, Oct. 9.