Area field hockey teams ‘stick it to cancer’

Photo courtesy of Sharon Moore - Arundel hosted Old Mill on Oct. 3 with pink Play 4 The Cure T-shirts for both teams.

Emily Kenul scored her 21st goal for Sherwood Tuesday night dressed in something slightly different than her school colors. The Warriors wore their traditional white jerseys, along with several pops of color — bright pink socks, pink ribbons in their hair and pink armbands that read “Dedicated to . . . ” on their arms.

The Warriors (11-0) donated all of their proceeds from Tuesday’s home game against Clarksburg to cancer research as part of Play 4 The Cure. The organization was started in 2006 by a club field hockey coach in Pennsylvania and announced a partnership with the National Foundation for Cancer Research in May 2013. Participating teams raise funds through programs and events, and receive a pink field hockey ball and armbands from sponsor Longstreth Women’s Sports as part of their participation.

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Gaithersburg's Solomon Vault is steadily recovering from a nearly catastrophic knee injury suffered against Clarksburg.

Gaithersburg's Solomon Vault is steadily recovering from a nearly catastrophic knee injury suffered against Clarksburg.

Kenul didn’t have time before the 3-0 win against Clarksburg (10-2) to fill in the blank line on her “dedicated to. . . ” armband, but played with her mother in mind, who passed away five years ago from bone marrow cancer.

“Most of the team definitely had someone in mind that they were playing for,” Kenul said. “I’m really glad that it’s getting a lot of recognition. Everyone really stepped up to try to help out the cause, and we had a lot of passion in tonight’s game because of the cause, so that helped us out as well.”

This won’t be the last time Kenul and her teammates take the field decked out in pink. They’ll travel to Paint Branch Thursday for the first annual “Pink Panthers Against Cancer” and are the visiting team for Walter Johnson’s Oct. 16 “PINK OUT” night. The Wildcats have already raised $1,000 between online and gate donations.

Hot pink ribbons, warm-up jerseys and shoelaces have accented fields around the state and area since the month of October began.

Leonardtown hosted La Plata on Sept. 30 to raise $830 total. Arundel hosted Old Mill on Oct. 3 with pink Play 4 the Cure T-shirts for both teams. Huntingtown beat Calvert 2-0 Tuesday in a combination senior night/“Breast Cancer Game” and will host their fifth annual Breast Cancer Dinner Oct. 26.

Churchill was the visitor for Richard Montgomery’s annual event on Oct. 2, and then lined their home field with pink paint for their own fundraiser game on Oct. 5 against Paint Branch. Magruder hosts Blake Oct. 14 for their third annual Play 4 the Cure event and will sport hot pink shoelaces and warm-up jerseys.

Virginia teams are also pitching in. Westfield (13-2) has worn white jerseys with pink lettering during each October contest.

“It’s cool to see the field hockey community all kind of joining together to recognize this cause,” Sherwood Coach Amy Morse said. “We wanted to make both teams a part of this night. We let them know that we’re playing against each other, but we’re all kind of fighting the same cause.”

Morse played at Sherwood during high school, and her head coach at the time (now the assistant for the Warriors) fought breast cancer during Morse’s playing years. She reached out to Walter Johnson Coach Erika Benke-Murray to learn about the fundraiser. The Warriors’ bright pink warm-up shirts read “Stick it to Cancer” and featured a breast cancer awareness ribbon made from two crossing field hockey sticks. The night was also marked by a visit from the Olney Boys and Girls Club and a group of younger girls who are just picking up sticks.

“It really shows the younger girls, lets them witness strong high school female athletes that have something they really find important,” Morse said. “It’s a great connection to have the younger girls see the older ones playing for something they value.”

Mustangs cherish first fall as ‘real sport’

Two seasons ago, the club gathered thrice a week on a patchwork of dirt and crabgrass at Larry Graves Park in Falls Church.

George Mason field hockey has come a ways since then. The Mustangs are past the midway point of their inaugural varsity season, and the changes are palpable.

“The intensity is definitely ramped up,” said junior captain Emma Graig. “We definitely get more recognition around the school, being a real sport.”

Amanda Crider was named coach in early August, just months after graduating from the University of Virginia. Crider spent the last four years between the pipes for the Cavaliers.

Besides technical knowledge, Crider can relate to her players.

“It’s cool that she’s so young,” Graig said. She has a lot to tell us about college sports if we’re interested in that sort of thing.”

The team’s only senior — captain Sarah Macris — hopes to turn those talks into a future at the next level. She’s been in contact with coaches at the College of William and Mary and plans to walk-on if she attends the school.

Two Tuesdays ago, Macris and her teammates racked up some notable firsts. Oct. 1’s 8-0 win over School Without Walls was the first in Mustangs’ history, and the senior netted the netted first goal of her career.

“It was all about hard work paying off,” Macris said of the win. “We reaped the benefits of our hard work.”

Mason (1-6) toils away at conditioning for the first 30 minutes of each practice before moving onto stick work and situational drills.

Graig has shaved more than a minute off her one-mile time since the season began, and the added endurance has started to show in games.

“You see in the second half, ‘wow, I’m not not tired,’ and you start to take it more seriously,” Graig said.

The Mustangs no longer have to worry about traversing Route 7 to arrive at practice (they’re involved in a timeshare with the football team for space on Mason’s turf field), and they get a kick from hearing their upcoming games plugged on the morning announcements.

“It’s been a great transformation,” Macris said. “We’ve acheived that status.”

Rankings: The Post Top 10

South River beat Severna Park 1-0 in a rematch of the Anne Arundel County rivals. . . . Atholton topped Marriotts Ridge 3-2 without dominant midfielder Jen Bleakney. . . . Westfield knocks Herndon out the rankings after a lopsided 7-1 decision Tuesday.

1. Glenelg (10-2) LW: 1

2. South River (8-2) LW: 2

3. South County (10-2) LW: 3

4. Westfield (13-2) LW: 4

5. St. Stephens/St. Agnes (10-2-1) LW: 6

6. Broadneck (8-3) LW: 7

7 Atholton (8-2) LW: 8

8. Severna Park (7-2-1) LW: 5

9. Wootton (9-0) LW: 9

10. Marriotts Ridge (10-2) LW: NR

On the bubble: Georgetown Visitation (7-2); T.C. Williams (11-2); Sherwood (11-0)

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