The 2018 Mount St. Joseph field hockey captains are (from left) seniors Mari Kniezewski, Ellie Maransky, and Julianna Kratz. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

This season, the customary annual turnover of graduating and incoming student athletes is only one of the changes occurring in the Mount St. Joseph Academy field hockey program.

The long-awaited construction of an artificial turf playing field on campus was begun in April, and while there are currently a few finishing touches to be applied, the turf itself was rolled down at the end of July and the Magic sticksters were able to use it when preseason practice began last Monday.

There is also a new coach heading the program in the recently-married Sue Wentzel, formerly Sue Boyer. A Pottstown native who played college hockey at Ursinus, Wentzel has many years of coaching experience at various levels of play. She has coached club field hockey for a number of different organizations, and was head coach of the teams at Penncrest High School in Media and Bayard Rustin High School in West Chester.

She comes to the Mount following a three-year tenure as assistant coach at Immaculata University. Another new addition – as assistant coach – is recent Connecticut College graduate Cheyanne Asplundh. She played her high school hockey in the Friends Schools League for the Academy of the New Church.

Assistant Vanessa Fry, a former Wissahickon High School goalie, has been with the Magic for some time. Returning to pilot the junior varsity team is Susan McGinley, who is a Mount parent and also a certified hockey coach. Her twin daughters, Erin and Meghan, are now sophomores at the school.

Meghan McGinley already saw a lot of varsity action last season as a freshman, as did her classmates Kennedy Cliggett and Megan Maransky. Erin McGinley is moving up onto the full-time varsity roster this fall, along with fellow 10th-graders Katie McCallum, Kelly Moore and Maggie Woolley.

Mount St. Joe lost eight seniors from that 2017 team, including a member of the junior national team program, Grace Wallis (now at the University of Virginia).

There are seven seniors on the 2018 roster, and tri-captains Mari Kniezewski, Julianna Kratz, and Ellie Maransky (sister of Megan) have committed to Colgate University, Fairfield University, and Georgetown University, respectively. The 12th-grade class also includes veteran goalies Maeve McCarthy and Claire Maguire, along with Maddie Niekelski.

Other varsity veterans are juniors Haley Cliggett (Kennedy’s sister) and Rory Williamson, while fellow 11th-grader Julianna Wagner has also made the 2018 varsity roster.

In the playoffs last season, the Magic reached the District 1 Class AA championship game and then fell to Villa Maria Academy, which was also the champion in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies. In the PIAA tournament, the Mount was edged 2-1 by Mannheim Central High School in the first round, while Villa went on to claim the state title.