Twin Valley’s three Division I recruits made a major impact on the field during the Raiders’ run to the Berks County field hockey championship last season.
As seniors, Natali Foster, Makayla Carahaly and Emma Winther will have to provide a little extra leadership at practices for the Raiders to compete for another county title.
“There are big shoes to fill,” said Carahaly, who has committed to Ohio State. “It’s really exciting. I think we’re going to have a strong foundation. It’s just getting the new people to adapt to our style of play.”
The Raiders have played at a high level in each of the six years Kim Walsh has been the head coach. Twin Valley won the Berks championship and the PIAA Class 2A title in Walsh’s first season in 2015.
But Twin Valley was unable to win another county championship until last season when it defeated Berks Catholic during a 15-2 season.
“It was a really good feeling,” said Foster, who has committed to Drexel. “We all worked really hard together as a group to get where we wanted to be.”
Foster, the 2020 Berks County Player of the Year, had 30 goals and 28 assists to lead the league with 88 points during a COVID-shortened season.
For her career, Foster has 76 goals and 75 assists in her career and is on track to become the first Berks player to reach the century mark in goals and assists.
As a senior, Foster will have to combine her talent with her leadership skills. She’s helping to bring along a solid group of freshmen who are looking to make an impact the way Foster and her classmates did three years ago.
“A lot of the freshmen are stepping up,” Foster said. “All the freshmen are super strong and we know we can trust them.”
Winther, who has committed to Saint Joseph’s, looks to help build that trust while the younger players are gaining experience.
After scoring 15 goals to go along with 10 assists last season, Winther looks forward to helping the younger players the way Carli Servis and Morgan Lennon did last year as senior leaders.
“I think we’re going to start where we left off,” Winther said. “We lost a few seniors but I think all the upperclassmen are making sure all the underclassmen are comfortable with us.
“We have to take more of a leadership role on the field and communicate with the underclassmen so they can become the best players they can be.”
Carahaly had 13 goals and nine assists last season and has reached double digits in goals in each of her three seasons. She only has to look back to three years ago to know what kind of impact freshmen can make if they are pointed in the right direction.
The Raiders also got a major contribution from a freshman last season with Maddie Stevens being selected the All-Berks goalie.
“I think we’re going to make it a good year,” Carahaly said. “I’m excited for what’s to come.”
So is Walsh, although her experience tells her there could be some growing pains along the way. Twin Valley will try to fend off challenges from Berks Catholic, Wilson, Oley Valley, Fleetwood and the rest of the teams in the Berks League.
“Talent-wise I don’t know if there’s a huge difference, but experience-wise I think there’s a big difference,” Walsh said. “We need to get some games under our belts and then we’ll see if things fall into place.”
TOP BERKS FIELD HOCKEY RETURNEES
All-Berks: Natali Foster, Twin Valley (Player of the Year); Julia Bressler, Berks Catholic; Casey Lynn Dewald, Fleetwood; Maddie Stevens, Twin Valley; Aubreigh Uba, Berks Catholic; Emma Winther, Twin Valley.
All-division: Catherine Arentz, Wilson; Makayla Carahaly, Twin Valley; Erika Culp, Wilson; Brooke Trent, Twin Valley; Kayla Wilkes, Wilson; Kara Frantz, Conrad Weiser; Hannah Huddleson, Daniel Boone; Clara Lacek, Daniel Boone; Taty Suarez, Conrad Weiser; Giulianna Ditsky, Berks Catholic; Lauren Breisch, Fleetwood; Kaitlyn Brunner, Wyomissing; Anna Gwiazdowski, Schuylkill Valley; Sarah Loeffler, Fleetwood; Natalie Slusser, Fleetwood; Morgan Snyder, Oley Valley; Tetje Williamson, Oley Valley; Taylor Vaccaro, Oley Valley; Abigail Zechman, Wyomissing; Abigail Gracius, Hamburg; Rachel Hager, Tulpehocken; Natalie Nissley, Brandywine Heights; Averi Reisch, Tulpehocken; Arianna Wertz, Tulpehocken; Mikayla Trubilla, Kutztown.
Source: Berkshire mont