Mount St. Joseph Academy’s field hockey captains for 2015, Courtney Target (left) and Taylor Gray. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Mount St. Joseph Academy’s field hockey captains for 2015, Courtney Target (left) and Taylor Gray. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Tina Reinprecht, who helped mentor some of the most successful teams in Mount history during the first decade of the millennium, came back to serve as an interim head coach for the Magic last fall. The word interim has now been dropped from her title at the Mount, since former MSJ stick skipper Christina Post Peruto decided not to return after taking maternity leave in 2014.

Reinprecht is the founder of the well known and highly successful Mystx Field Hockey Club, and had three daughters who played for the Mount. Katie (’08) and Julia (’09) Reinprecht were members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Field Hockey Team and are currently gearing up for 2016.

Returning as an assistant coach for the Mount franchise is four-time MSJ parent Mary Beth Stefanowicz, whose youngest daughter, Mary Kate, is a sophomore on the team this fall. One of new additions to the staff is Betta Ceretta, who was both a player and later head coach for the national team in her native Uruguay. She brings extensive international experience and is also a coach for the Mystx club. Helping out with the Magic netminders will be Vanessa Fry, a former goalie at Wissahickon High School (’11).

Mount St. Joe graduated four athletes (including three current NCAA Division I players) from its 2014 team, which for the second year in a row finished fourth in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies.

Current seniors Taylor Gray and Courtney Target are the team co-captains for 2015. They have not yet made their college choices, but two of their classmates have; Taylor Merkle (Fairfield University) and Norwood Fontbonne Academy grad Eliza Ewing (Johns Hopkins).

Among the other 12th graders is goalie Allison McMullen and Norwood alum Libby Burgoyne. Burgoyne’s older sister Ann (MSJ ’13) is currently playing at Fairfield, where she was named the America East Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2014. Rounding out the senior class are Liz DeGroat, Mairéad Denton, Maddie Ferrero, Bridget Horan and Virginia Poliwoda.

The relatively small group of five juniors includes Margot Biamon and Norwood graduate Margaret Lynch, who both became varsity impact players as freshmen. Their classmates on the current club are Suzanne Kushnerick, Hanna Poliwoda (Virginia’s sister), and Ava Self.

Of the eight sophomores on the roster, Grace Wallis and Natalie McNamara were full-fledged varsity players in 2014, and this class also includes former NFA standout Jax Nyzio. Yet another former Norwooder, Mari Kniezewski, is among the 10 freshman on the varsity/JV squad, along with a legacy player, Katie Maransky’s younger sister, Ellie. Kniezewski has a twin sister, Kara, a new Springside Chestnut Hill Academy student whose primary sport is basketball.

The Mount hockey players visited SCH several times last week. They took advantage of the fact that the Blue Devils’ fall practices didn’t start until August 24, using one of the school’s artificial turf fields for some of their workouts.

Speaking of turf, the durable plastic grass is finally making its way into the Catholic Academies realm. Villa Maria Academy is installing a turf field that will be fittingly named after its legendary field hockey coach of 45 years, Maurene Polley. The uniform nature of the synthetic playing surface is particularly important to hockey players, who move the ball almost exclusively on the ground.

It is universally used in the college game, and at most public high schools in the Philadelphia area and elsewhere. Villa’s prudent move will put pressure on other AACA schools to follow suit, as happened within the Inter-Ac League once a few schools installed turf on one or more fields.