by Tom Utescher

As Mount St. Joseph Academy field hockey hopefuls assembled for their first practices last week, the Magic coaches were gratified to observe a significant uptick in numbers. Last fall, a relatively low turnout meant that no cuts were made when putting together the varsity and JV squads, but this time around a large pool of players will have to be trimmed down to a manageable size.

2012 Mount St. Joseph Academy field hockey captains Ali Waters (left) and Ann Burgoyne. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

“We had 26 freshmen trying out for the team, and there’s definitely some talent there,” said second-year head coach Christina Post. “A lot of these young girls are serious about hockey and have been playing on club teams for a number of years.

“We have a handful of real stand-out players, but beyond that there are skilled juniors and sophomores who I think are going to make this a deep team,” she continued. “Even after a couple days the coaches are going back and forth about a number of players because we know it’s going to be challenging to make those cuts.”

One of the “stand-outs” of whom everyone is aware is Emilee Ehret, a Wyndmoor native who already committed to play hockey at Penn State last year. She’ll be a midfielder, most likely center mid, so that her skill and power can be used up and down the pitch.

Two other senior veterans hail from Norwood Fontbonne Academy, Ann Burgoyne and Julia Mustin. Burgoyne, a forward who is being eyed by a number of Division I programs, has been working on extending her shooting range, according to Coach Post. Mustin, a steady defender, has been dealing with a minor injury in the pre-season, but should be back in action shortly.

Burgoyne is team co-captain along with the fourth senior on the squad, Ali Waters. The lanky forward was not usually grouped in with the “big guns” on offense last year, but it was Waters who actually scored most of the Mount’s goals in two meetings with league archrival Villa Maria.

In 2011, the Magic shared the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies championship with Villa, and finished fourth in the Class AAA District tournament. In the first round of the PIAA state playoffs, the Magic lost 1-0 to District 12 champ Archbishop Carroll, finishing up with an overall record of 17-4.

The goalie from that squad, Christina Black, is back in the cage as a junior, and the defensive unit will draw on players such as her classmates Cara Beal and Dana Scott. Another 11th grader, Millie Stefanowicz, will positioned in the midfield where, according to Post, her impressive skill set can be utilized on both offense and defense.

Forward Chrissy Pascali was a starter throughout her freshman season in 2011, and two other current sophomores, mid Katie Maransky and forward Stephanie Mahoney also gained a lot of varsity experience last fall. Post noted that fellow 10th grader Adrienne Pero, a back, has made a strong showing in the early practice sessions.

Seasoned assistant coach Sharna Shuford is back for her sixth season with the Magic, and a new addition to the staff is MSJ alum and newly-minted University of Pennsylvania graduate Kieran Sweeney. Sweeney was a four- year starter in goal for some of the strongest teams in Mount history, and her knowledge will come in handy this fall because both of the understudies to Christina Black are freshmen.

Two non-league opponents have been added to the schedule this fall, Council Rock North and Radnor High School. Both are Class AAA programs, like the Mount, and successful outcomes in those matches would help boost the Magic’s standing when it’s time to seed teams for the District tourney.