Maddie O’Hara (left) and Sammy Popper are the senior co-captains of the 2018 GA field hockey team. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Germantown Academy’s field hockey players reassembled for the 2018 season after reaching a milestone near the end of their 2017 campaign. After losing to longtime Inter-Ac power Episcopal Academy in their home/away league series (1-4 and 2-3), the Patriots chalked up their first win over EA in 10 years in the semifinal round of the Pa. Independent Schools tournament.

That 2-1 victory moved GA into the PAIS championship game for the first time, where the Pats fell to defending champ Academy of Notre Dame, 10-2.

The first goal-scorer for GA in the win over Episcopal was Colleen Carrigan, one of five seniors on last year’s squad. She is now at Wesleyan University, and the 2017 team’s stand-out in goal, Hannah Santos, is playing hockey out at Stanford.

The game-winner against EA, fired after a penalty corner insertion, came from one of just two seniors on the team this fall, Sammy Popper. The wonderfully-skilled Popper had already made a verbal commitment to Princeton University as a GA freshman.

At that age, she was already making appearances on the United States Under-19 team, and she has excelled in both indoor and outdoor international competition. Late last March she went on a week-long playing tour to Ireland with the U-19 Team, which also included 2018 Mount St. Joseph Academy graduate Grace Wallis (now playing at the University of Virginia).

Popper is a 2018 GA team co-captain along with classmate Maddie O’Hara. O’Hara’s older sister Kelsey (GA ’18) was an impact performer for the Patriots’ cross country and track teams, and her younger sister Bri, new to GA, has made the varsity hockey roster as a freshman.

Popper is a midfielder and O’Hara is a forward, while much of the defense this fall will come from the junior class. Back from last year’s team are Annabel Brewer, Ella Henry, Grace Pacitti and Jordan Roche. In goal will be 11th-grader Olivia McMichael, who has experience as a varsity starter from sharing time in the cage with Santos during the 2016 season.

Catherine McFadden is a returning varsity player for Germantown, and her junior classmate and fellow midfielder Nadja Velis is back on the pitch after being sidelined with an injury last fall. Two sophomores, mid Sophie Towne and forward Katie Shapiro, both earned a place on the varsity roster as freshmen in 2017.

Joining the pool of varsity players this season are juniors Lilyana Ernst (mid) and Madison Kurtz (defense), sophomore Ella Brant (forward), the younger O’Hara (a forward) and freshman classmate Sydney Cameron (mid).

GA’s field hockey resurgence in recent years has been led by head coach Jackie Connard (GA ’06), who is now in her fourth season. Longtime assistant Brooke Watson has been joined this season by former Patriot Catherine Perlmutter (’13), who went on to play college hockey at Dickinson.