Never mind that the St. Catherine’s field hockey team has already been defeated by Trinity Episcopal this season — the Saints aren’t paying any attention to what’s going on across the James River.
Saints coach Don Warner isn’t interested in what Trinity is doing despite its 10-0 start to the season. There’s still plenty of time left in the season for his team, which hasn’t even made it into the second round of LIS games on its schedule.
Warner isn’t panicked about the Saints’ 5-3 start to the season — with a smattering of upperclassmen on an otherwise youthful squad, the Saints are still finding their groove.
While that groove likely wasn’t completely found in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Deep Run, the victory was a move in the right direction as the Saints attempt to put together some much-needed momentum.
In a match where the Saints saw their last three goals scored by upperclassmen Carolyn Braziel, Maddie Vicars and Archer Gurkin, it was sophomore Claire Horner who got the offense going with the first goal — underlining Warner’s point of allowing his team to develop without the added pressure of producing results.
“I think their learning curve is pretty steep, but I think we’re starting to find our own identity,” Warner said. “We’re starting to figure out how to connect the dots in the field, how to apply pressure defensively, how to expand in attack. We’re starting to put it together.”
That pressure was evident Tuesday as the Saints pressed a Wildcats defense that hadn’t surrendered a goal in its first six games. Scoring a goal within the first eight minutes of the match, Horner made that statistic history, and the Saints never trailed.
Although the Saints still have nine regular-season games left, Warner admitted there isn’t a lot of time for his younger players to work out some of their deficiencies, even with the signs of progress his team showed Tuesday.
And to complicate things further, some of the Saints’ upperclassmen will miss time for SATs and official college visits in the upcoming weeks, meaning the underclassmen will receive a trial by fire in upcoming matches.
“We’re going to expose some of our younger players and see how they do,” Warner said.
If a schedule that has already featured a road game against Trinity Episcopal was considered tough, it pales in comparison to St. Catherine’s next four matches.
Friday and Saturday, St. Catherine’s will be in Virginia Beach for a trio of games, highlighted by a matchup against First Colonial, a team with a legitimate claim as one of the Country’s best teams.
Get through that, and a home date with VHSL powerhouse Tabb awaits Oct. 10.
It’s no small wonder why Warner hasn’t gotten wrapped up in focusing on Trinity, a team the Saints won’t play again until the final game of the regular season.
“We haven’t mentioned their program in a practice yet. Control what you can,” Warner said. “Trinity is a blip in the radar, but we have quite a few blips out there right now.”
Deep Run 1 1 — 2
St. Catherine’s 2 2 — 4
DR: Brooksbank, McCarthy.
STC: Gurkin, Horner, Vicars, Braziel.
Assists: DR - Kelleher. STC - Pratt, Gurkin.
Saves: DR - Kramen 5. STC - Wagnon 5.
Records: Deep Run 6-1; St. Catherine’s 6-3.