There may be teams out there with more student athletes on their roster than the Sparta High School field hockey program. But rest assured that the Spartans are ready, willing and able to fight just as hard for victory as any squad that they will compete against this season.
The Spartans are scheduled to begin the regular season with a road game at Pope John on September 9. Sparta’s first home game is slated for September 14 versus Morris Hills.
“We are very low on numbers this year, and [allowed late try outs to join the team],” Sparta head coach Corinne Bright said. “However, we are hoping that a middle school program, which is in the works, will help to strengthen the future of our program.”
Among the key returning student athletes with varsity experience for the Spartans are Aine Byrne (defense, senior), Ella Kenny (forward, senior), Tzuriya Thompson (defense, senior), Sophia Candeloro (midfield, junior), Orianna Bennett (goal tender, junior) and Madison Campisi (defense and midfield, junior).
Newcomers looking to be of positive influence at the varsity level include Maya Albers (forward, junior), Shea Cina (midfield, junior), Claire Gallagher (midfield, junior), Ava Capeci (defense and midfield, sophomore), Ella Duphiney (defense and midfield, sophomore), Emma Westervelt (midfield, sophomore) and Emma Johnson (forward, freshman).
“We are definitely looking to our seniors, Aine, Tzuriya and Ella to foster a sense of cohesion both on and off the field using their experience and positive attitudes,” Bright said. “Our juniors returning to the starting lineup — Sophia, Orianna and Madison — will also bring skill and a sense of acceptance to the younger, less experienced players joining us this year.”
Sparta finished with six overall wins in 2021.
“This season we are going back to basics to help bring young and fresh players up to speed,” Bright said. “We are looking to be competitive in our games by going back to basics and working specifically through expected pass options and aggressive re-defensing.”
The Spartans compete in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) National Division along with Morris Hills, Montville, Roxbury, Pope John and Morris Knolls.
“This season we are definitely rebuilding, as we work to fill six starting positions from graduating seniors,” Bright said. “However, we hope to be considered a spoiler with the work they are putting into getting better every day. Montville, Roxbury, Morris Knolls and Morris Hills [are among the top teams to beat in the Division]... I mean pretty much everyone; Pope John is returning a lot of players so they can be a dark horse this year.”