Mount field hockey co-coaches Christina Peruto Post (left) and Lois Weber (center), and longtime assistant coach Sharna Shuford. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

For Mount St. Joseph Academy field hockey, the 2011 campaign will encompass a period of transition on the sidelines as well as on the pitch. Longtime Magic mentor Lois Weber has been joined by co-coach Christina Peruto Post, a Mount St. Joe alumna who will carry on as the MSJ skipper after Weber retires at the end of the season.

Weber is now in her 10th year as coach, a position she shared with Mystx Hockey Club founder Tina Reinprecht for the first seven years of her tenure. Last fall the Magic won the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies championship, finished second in the PIAA District 1 tournament, and advanced farther in the state tournament than any other team from Southeastern Pa., reaching the final four for the third time in five years. They were state runner-up in 2006.

Weber’s new colleague, Peruto Post, graduated from Mount St. Joseph in 1997 and played hockey at Cornell University, first as a wing, and then a back. After graduating from the Georgetown University School of Medicine, she embarked on a five-year residency in orthopedic surgery.

“I got through the most difficult part of it, but in my third year I realized it wasn’t really what I wanted to do,” she recalled. “I remember watching the U.S. field hockey team in the 2004 Olympics and getting so wrapped up in it. It’s just something I’m very passionate about, so I took a leave of absence from my residency and I never went back.”

She began working with club hockey teams at Mystx, and helped out coaching lacrosse (another sport she played at the Mount) at Germantown Friends School. For the past two years, she was an assistant hockey coach at Merion Mercy Academy, which brought her back up to speed with developments in the AACA.

Now she has completed the circle, in a sense, by returning to coach at her alma mater.

“I’m very excited about it,” she said. “The challenge this year is that we lost a lot of our starting defense and our starting goalie.”

Keeper Kat Matchett, now playing at Holy Cross, was a four-year varsity player for the Magic, and two of her classmates will also be playing Division I college hockey, Jenna Seybert (Lafayette) and Natalie Tacka (Lehigh). A fourth 2011 graduate, Mary Jo Horgan, was offered a Division I hockey scholarship but elected to play basketball at Lehigh. There were four other seniors that helped provide great depth of talent for the 2010 Mounties.

This year’s defense will be anchored by tenacious senior sweep Laura Pacheco (also a lacrosse standout), and vying for the goalie’s spot will be junior Meg Mutzel and sophomore Christina Black. Pacheco is a team tri-captain along with senior twins Allie and Brooke Sabia, who have both committed to play at the University of Massachusetts.

The siblings both play forward and are graduates of Norwood Fontbonne Academy, are two other attackers for the Magic, juniors Anne Burgoyne and Julia Mustin. Other returning varsity players are seniors Katie Gozdon and Maddie Hass, juniors Emilee Ehret and Allison Waters, and sophomore Millie Stefanowicz, who was the only freshman to see a lot of varsity playing time last fall.

“We have some holes to fill, but I see a lot of talent out on the field,” noted Peruto Post. “Laura [Pacheco] will be key for us on defense, and on offense we’ve got some real firepower with the Sabias and Anne Burgoyne. Emilee Ehret looks amazing, and Millie (Stefanowicz) is so versatile we could play her almost anywhere on the field.”

Another addition to the Mount hockey family won’t arrive until a few months after the season has ended; Peruto Post and her husband, Kevin, are expecting their first child in January.