U14 Blue NIT Team; Layney O'Biran, Hannah Markowicz, Violet Kucler, Avery Kripkie, Coach Ben, Lilliana Rose (C), Grace Chrobak, Alexa Volk, Ava Williams, Addison Burns. Front Row: Genevive Hanson (GK)
The very young Venom U14 National Indoor Tournament team traveled to Spooky Nook in Lancaster, PA in February 2022. The very young group boasted only three 13yr olds coupled with two 10yr olds & the rest were 12, making this a very young and feisty team. The tournament started on Saturday 19th Feb in the evening against Competitive Edge. The game started off even with the Venom girls getting settled on the National stage. Slowly the Venom U14’s took control of the game and outplayed Competitive Edge and the goals started to go in. First to break the deadlock was Captain Lilliana Rose who scored on a Penalty Corner from Addison Burns who inserted the set piece.. Burns then took the ball and buried it from a well played baseline run from Ava Williams to get Venom’s second goal. Competitive Edge got one past the Venom defense to bring it to 2-1 but then the floodgates broke and the Venom goals started to flow. Violet Kucler got the third from another baseline assist from Williams. Ava Williams got her own when Kucler returned the favor for the fourth. Williams got another when Addison Burns assisted on a breakout pass through the middle of the court. Exploiting the weak right hand side of the court was Addison to put in Venom’s sixth from a Williams baseline run. Violet netted the seventh from another Williams baseline run assist. Violet Kucler got the eighth and final Venom goal from another Burns assist. When the final horn blew, the game ended 8-2 sending the Blue team to a victory. Formidable club Alley Cats from the east side of the state were up next. After the first minute it was clear the opposition were much more experienced for the pool level and had been playing together for multiple years. The Venom U14’s stood strong and never hung their heads as goals went in. The game ended 0-14 to the eventual pool winners who swept each team by 10+goals. The resilience was on show as a much more level game against Empower was next. The game was a tight one with neither team giving many opportunities at goal. Goalkeeper Genevive Hanson coupled with defenders Layney O’Brian, Hannah Markowitz, Grace Chrobak & captain Lilliana Rose all came together to stop nearly all of the Empower attacks. Only one goal went past the Venom defense which set up the offense nicely. With the penalty corner count even between both teams the chances were slim. Finally Ava Williams got a goal from a clever penalty corner inserted from Rose. Neither team could get another break to put in another one as the game ended tied at 1-1. Monday morning brought the final two games of Nationals. First up was Next Level FH. A stout defense from Next Level stopped every Venom attempt. Over the 40 mins of play only a couple of goals went in through the Venom defense but with no offensive goals the game ended 0-3 handing the team their second loss of the tournament. Strikers FHC were last on the schedule to potentially bring the record .500 with a win. After the tough loss in the morning, the Venom youngsters rallied to bring it all in the final game. The venom offense was fiery, getting 11 penalty corners to the Strikers’ 4. The PC opportunities were grabbed first by Ava Williams from an insert by Liliana Rose. After a Strikers attacking play, Williams went end to end pulling around 3 defenders and the goalkeeper to put Venom up by 2. The final goal of the tournament was another penalty corner goal from captain Liliana Rose inserted from Williams. Only letting in 1 goal Genevive got her second win of the tournament bringing the final record 2W-2L-1T to come 4th on goal difference. Congratulations to the entire team stepping up and playing above their level at Nationals. Congratulations to player of the tournament Layney O’Brian & Ava Williams for most goals with 5 for the tournament.
U19 White NIT Team Back Row: Isabella Arnold, Abby Hershberger, Mary Wymard (C), Madelyn Holmes, Ashlyn King, Coach Ben. Front Row: Callie Rautenbach, Julia DeFoggis, Lauren Ghil, Ava Zimmer, Mia Thomas. Front Front: Jordan Ashbaugh (GK)
The U19’s took their talents down to Richmond, VA for the February 25th weekend to showcase what we have in Western PA. U19 White kicked off the tournament first as they were the highest qualified seed going into the weekend. Playing in Pool P they knew they had a battle on their hands each and every game going up against some of the biggest clubs in the country. Their first game was mid afternoon on Friday against PA rivals Pinnacle FHC. Always difficult to get into the Nationals mindset and speed of play, the Venom defense was tested early. After enduring some early pressure they got away with only letting one goal in. The play was fast and the most competent of the season. With a couple of mins left in the 1st half, Pinnacle put another one away. Going into the second half the U19 White team got into the groove and started making plays up the court. Finally they broke the Pinnacle barrier with a smart passing play from Callie Rautenbach led to Lauren Ghil rattling the backboard and getting the team’s first goal of the weekend. The second half didn’t go as planned as Pinnacle put in another two and Venom not getting any of their own, ending the game 1-4. Next up were rivals from the west, Ohio natives Field Hockey Life. As this game was only an hour and half since the first, the U19 White team was mentally prepped for the speed needed. A furious back and forth game proved the skill of both teams. The first venom goal was a nice board pass from the back, Mia Brinkley sent the ball to Rautenbach who got the first goal of the game. Quickly after scoring FHL got one of their own to tie the game. The penalty corner count was heavily in favor of the Venom team with 9-1 but they only managed to get one in, inserted from Ghil to set Rautenbach for her second of the game to make it 2-1. Another quick response from the Ohio team tied it at 2-2. Going into the last 5 mins of the game it looked like neither team could break the defense with goalkeeper Jordan Ashbaugh making some crucial saves to stop certain goals, with help from Julia DeFoggia, Mia Brinkley, Ava Zimmer & Abby Hershberger in front keeping them from scoring again. A very clever quick restart from Ghil got around the press, with a precise pass to Isabella Arnold in the circle gave her the space to pull around the goalkeeper to net the game winner in dramatic fashion. After securing the close 3-2 victory, the U19 White team ended the first day at .500 1W-1L, a successful first day. The second day started against New Jersey powerhouse Jersey Intensity. The beginning of Saturday was tougher than Friday night. The formidable Jersey team took the Venom side by surprise which set them on the back foot. Although the Penalty Corner stats were more even (1-3) the Jersey team found a new level and put 7 past the Venom side. A very tough game which didn’t see the Venom side drop their heads or break. A couple of good chances from the Venom offense that just didn’t manage to go in dropping the game 1-7. After dropping the first game of the day the U19 White team got together in the break and found a new determination for the game ahead. FSC the eventual tournament champions were next on the schedule. The team from Eastern PA took control of the ball but the Venom White mindset had changed, hustling to each and every ball, getting set into double teams knowing they had to step up for the game. FSC didn’t know what hit them. Some stout Venom defense and a swift counter attack, a quick pass out of the back from Mia Brinkley sent Bella Arnold 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper and she sent the ball far side and U19 White into the lead 1-0. A great game back and forth with every Venom victory bolstering their morale. The Philly rivals scored one on a penalty corner but that lead was quickly snapped when U19 white got a PC goal of their own. Inserted from Brinkley to DeFoggia at the top of the circle, a quick snapshot into the bottom corner sent U19 White up 2-1. As the clock was ticking down the talent was on display. With FSC knowing that a loss would have the tournament championship slip through their fingers, facing defeat they found one more piece of skill to even the game 2-2 to salvage some points.. The final horn sounded with U19 White being the only team in the tournament not to lose against this Eastern PA team. Headed into the final game on the final day the U19 White team were ready for their final match-up with Field Hockey Club of Connecticut. A great showcase of skill was on display. With Venom securing the PC advantage 5-1, they had the lion’s share of the possession. Captain Mary Wymard scored first from a passing play from Ashlyn King back to DeFoggia who slotted it back to Wymard who buried it to take Venom in the lead. The club from Connecticut didn’t back down, answering each time Venom scored. The second and third U19 White goals came from Penalty Corners drawn expertly on the right hand side by Madelyn Holmes. The PC routine was in full force when Brinkley set up DeFoggia once, then Ghill inserted to DeFoggia for her second in quick sucession. When the final horn sounded to end the tournament the score was tied 3-3. U19 White ended the tournament in 5th place with a record of 1W-2L-2T. A fantastic showcase of talent in Western PA, congratulations for playing up there with the best. Congratulations to Julia DeFoggia for scoring the most goals in the tournament with 3.
U19 Blue NIT Team: Back Row: Coach Kyla, Danielle Deer, Lauren Kampi, Emma Barlett, Fiona Kortyna, Annabelle Rose, Sophia Bovino, Coach Ben. Front Row: Sofia Boyle, Madison Keenan, Gwen Hershberger (GK) (C), Delaney Lentz, Ava Hershberger.
The U19 Blue team took to the National Stage late on Friday evening against Maryland Legacy Teal. With a lot of this roster coming back after winning a National Championship last year the experience was on show as mentally they had the edge on the Maryland opponents. The PC count was 11-6 in favor of the Venom side. With dominating control of the ball the Venom offense took their chances. Ava Hershberger got a pass from Fiona Kortyna for the first goal of the game. Then U19 Blue took their second of the game from a PC with a quick insert from Madison Keenan to Ava Hershberger who scored her second. After gaining a 2-0 lead the momentum changed in the Maryland favor but while the Venom defense buckled they did not break. With some strong defensive corners, goalkeeper captain Gwen Hershberger kept them off the scoresheet for the shutout with help from defenders Emma Barlett, Sophia Bovino, Danielle Deer & Annabelle Rose. Ava Hershberger scored her hat-trick from a very quick defensive free hit, she went up the middle around almost the entire Maryland defense to put the game away 3-0, a dominant first performance of the tournament. Headed into the second day the southern powerhouse Texas Pride Blue was the second matchup of this year’s NIT’s. With a renewed hunger, Venom Blue took their chances at every turn. Only one goal was let in for the Venom defense but with the offencive on fire the goals started flowing. Ava Hershberger got her first, a well placed pass from Madison Keenan got the Venom offense rolling. Delaney Lentz was second up for a goal. After watching the opposite line score they decided to get in on the action. Emma Barlet assisted as she passed through the middle to Lentz to get Venom up 2-0. To keep up with the line changes it was like each other wanted to keep the streak going back and forth, the Hershberger line went back out to score the third of the game from a link up play down the left, Lauren Kampi set up Hershberger to make it 3-0. At the end of their shift, an offensive penalty corner set up defender Annabelle Rose to score from Hershberger to bring it 4-1. The second half didn’t slow U19 Blue down with another Keenan/Hershberger assist/goal combo. Sofia Boyle also got in on the action with an assist from Delaney Lentz, who didn’t want to be left out and scored an unassisted goal to end the final tally at 7-1. With two good wins in the bag the real test of the tournament was up next, Nook Emerald & HUSEL. The Nook Emerald game was a tight one. With an absolute showcase of indoor hockey the play went back and forth. Nook drew blood first with a quick two goals. Not to be deterred, U19 Blue took it in their stride and trusted the system. The first to break the Nook defense was a well placed PC. Ava Hershberger struck first with a quick insert from Keenan. The second Venom goal to tie the game was another Hershberger PC from Rose. The play was hotly contested with each team getting good chances, both goalkeepers had to be on their toes to keep the scoreline low. A quick counter attack from A. Hershberger broke the tie as she busted through the Nook defenders and slid her third of the game past the goalkeeper to make it 3-2. With time ticking down the Nook players seemed to back off and defend. With some smart play up the right side of the court earned U19 Blue their 9th PC of the game. A quick insert from Kampit to A. Hershberger gave her a quick shot, which rebounded off the keeper’s chest back to her. After collecting it again and shooting, it was stopped by the keeper’s blocker only to rebound back at Ava’s feet. She took the ball one more time along the top of the circle and shot it low and to the left to finally beat the keeper for her fourth of the game. The final horn blew shortly after to end the game 4-2 and the day just at the top of the standings 2 points above HUSEL, setting up a big match up on Sunday. The final day started with a big match up for sole possession of top place in the tournament standings on the line. The game started like the last with the Maryland team HUSEL coming out of the gates hot and getting two quickly past the stout Venom defense. After going behind in all scoring categories the U19 Blue team rallied together mid game to turn the tide of goals. A. Hershberger got the first Venom goal with a nice breakout pass from Sophia Bovino in the back. Lauren Kampi decided to show her fighting spirit when she collected the ball on the left side and pulled around two defenders to score the equalizer. The game went back and forth and although they dropped the PC count 3-6 in favor of HUSEL the U19 Blue team didn't back down. They kept fighting and the fruits of their hard work showed when Kampi got her second of the game from a Keenan assist. With time ticking down and what seemed like the entire convention center spectators had made their way to Court 3 with much of the support going the Western PA team's way. In the last few minutes HUSEL took a late lead with some fine hockey getting past the Venom defense. In a late call A. Hershberger took the pushback immediately following the goal but instead of passing back, she ran directly into the HUSEL half. Taking the still celebrating team by surprise A. Hershberger took the ball around all 5 defenders to score the tying goal with seconds to go in the game. As the cheers for the final goal were dying down the game ended tied 4-4 with Venom keeping their edge by virtue of 2 points because HUSEL tied Nook earlier in the tournament. Only the Connecticut teamHTC stood in the way of U19 Blue claiming the national championship in their final game of the day. The objective was clear; win and become champions, tie or lose HUSEL wins. The CT team stood their ground going toe to toe with the Venom skill. A good back and forth game with the PA team getting the edge of possession and chances created with the PC line 12-4 in Venom's direction. What ended up being much needed Penalty Corners the first three Venom goals came from set pieces. A. Hershberger scored from Keenen passes twice and then Delaney Lentz got on the score sheet from an insert by AB Rose. The CT team didn’t pull any punches and they got one through the defense to make it 3-1 on a Penalty Stroke. With less than 3 to go in the tournament a fourth security goal from Fiona Kortyna got the would be the tournament winning goal from a Kampi shot assist. HTC took some chances in the dying minutes to get two more goals but it wasn't enough time to make the full comeback as the tournament ended with a 4-3 victory over HTC to clinch the outright Pool S National Championship with a 4W-0L-1T record. Congratulations for a hard fought battle from start to finish. A well deserved national championship with an individual congratulations to Ava Hershberger with most goals of the tournament with 15 over 5 games.
U16 Blue NIT Team Back Row: Mia Thomas, Sofia Boyle, Ava Zimmer, Ava Williams. Front Row: Josie Schomburg, Isabella Elm, Ava Hershberger (C). Front Front: Kayla Joyce (GK)
The final National Indoor Tournament of the playoff season was back in Lancaster, PA at the Spooky Nook sports complex. In a Venom record setting undefeated regular season. The U16 Blue team took 2nd place at their first & second regular season Nook Tournament’s, losing the tiebreaker on points each time due to ties. They then went to NIT Qualifiers and went undefeated to secure 1st overall ranking at Nationals, a first in club history. Then they went undefeated again at their final Spooky Nook regular season tournament and won two back to back tournament championships. Boasting a truly impressive 15-0L-3T record going into the final weekend of the season. By winning their entire Qualifying tournament in January the U16 Blue team was placed in the 3rd highest pool in the nation playing in Pool C going up against 5 of the top 18 teams in the country. First up was national headliner WC Eagles’ 3rd team on Friday morning on Court 1. The eastern powerhouse certainly thought that they were in for a rout against perceived weaker cross state competition. The U16 Blue team stunned the Eagles team by standing strong and not backing down and displaying the skill needed to compete with the top in the nation. With a couple of probing attacks it was U16 Blue who broke the deadlock and a well placed run up the middle putting Ava Hershberger on the scoreboard from a Josie Schomburg assist. They quickly scored an equalizer to bring the game level 1-1 off of some clever quick passing. The game intensified and the Western PA team didn’t relent, a nice passing play of their own led to Hershberger getting her second of the tournament from Isabella Elm to send the WC team behind again. WC are not a club who finds themselves behind in games too often and they showed why they ended up being eventual undefeated champions of the pool by systematically breaking down the Venom defense to put in 4 straight over the course of the next 15 mins of the game stopping all of the Venom attacks. The WC defense did break down once more from a well timed shot from Ava Williams who got it from Hershberger for the assist to end the game 3-5 in favor of the WC Eagles. A fantastic effort by U16 Blue standing tall and getting the most goals against the WC team over the course of the weekend. After a short respite Electric Surge was up next to end day one. The Delaware team proved to be worthy adversaries as each team in these pools won their respective qualifier. The U16 Blue team attacked the balls winning most 50/50’s to earn them the edge over the skilled Surge team. The first goal was a raised flick from Hershberger inserted by Isabella Elm to put the Venom team ahead. Williams got back into the goal scoring mood after Herberger slipped the ball to an open Williams who scored the 2nd goal of the game. The Surge offense broke the Venom defense of goalkeeper Kayla Joyce and defenders Mia Brinkley, Ava Zimmer and Hershberger only once to spoil the shutout but that was it. Rebuffing all other attacks while the U16 Blue team got one more set piece goal from inserter Zimmer to Hershberger to secure the victory 3-1 ending the day with an even record: 1W-1T. Saturday started early on Court 1 against New England titans Cape Ann FHC. An intense game back and forth put both teams to the test to gain the edge over the other. With all scoring stats even, none was able to break the deadlock. Ohio’s own Sofia Boyle got on the board first from a Hershberger assist which proved to be a very fruitful partnership over the course of the tournament. Cape Ann got one of their own and nearly got a second but standing tall in goal was Kayla Joyce who stopped a Penalty Stroke to keep them from going ahead. The familiar duo of a Hershberger assist from the middle to Boyle on the left sending in the game winner secured the victory as the PA team narrowly edged the CT team 2-1. Texas Pride was the late game of day two. The formidable team from the south proved to be just as competitive with both teams trading blows. Josie Schomburg scored the first Venom goal from a Hershberger assist. Then Texas replied with one of their own. The Venom defender duo decided to take matters into their own hands as Ava Zimmer made a passing play around the press to Mia Brinkley who took it into the circle and smashed in the second Venom goal. With play going back and forth it was a flurry of hockey as Texas got their own second goal to level the game again. A stretch passing play from Zimmer to Hershberger got the third Venom goal to put pressure on the Pride shoulders. Those shoulders could evidently burden the weight as a quick series of offensive plays managed to break the Venom defense twice to hand the U16’s a narrow loss in the last mins of the game. With a 2-2-0 record, 3rd place was on offer if the Xcalibur Lancers, one of the best teams in the country, could be held to a modest goal differential. Being the only other team who put 3 goals against the WC Eagles, the Xcalibur team showed their tournament fortitude and fitness by running their plays around the Venom defense. The U16’s buckled but they didn't break, limiting the Jersey offense as much as they could, even getting a counter attack goal from a quick run from Hershberger to slide the ball left to a waiting Boyle to get the only Venom goal against the powerful Jersey defense. By limiting the Xcalibur goal count to 6 and adding one of their own they managed to secure 3rd place in the pool and top 15 in the country by virtue of a higher goal difference than Texas Pride. Congratulations for your absolute stellar performance this weekend. You truly show how bright the future of Western PA field hockey! Also an individual congratulations to Ava Hershberger who scored 5 goals.
Congratulations to all Venom teams who traveled to Nationals at the end of the season, we can’t wait to see what you can do next year!