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Sports Article
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Middle School Hockey Competes Second Straight Undefeated Season
Written by Bradley Schlegel Correspondent

Making up the Upper Perkiomen Middle School field hockey team were Aiyi Young, Michaela Greczek, Lindsey Collins, Carly Eidle, Madison Sanfelice, Tori Williams, Jenna Fiorito, Sklyer Gionfriddo, Shelby Livingstone, Alyse Thompson, Kiara West, Rachel Godshall, Bailey Badea, Willow Jones, Bella Carpenter, Colleen Creneti, Riley Kulp, Margo May, Sydney Crossin, Kate Rodenberger, Emma Steffon, Erin Raftery, Olivia Rogers, Katie Rynn, Summer Spence and Kailtynn Kling.

        Earlier this month, Upper Perkiomen's middle school field hockey team completed its second straight undefeated season.

        During an 11-game schedule, the varsity finished 10-0-1 and allowed just one goal. Head coach Toni Arner said the results didn't surprise her.

        "We have some natural athletes that picked up the game and its fundamentals very quickly," she said. "We're very strong defensively and overall."

        During the last two seasons, in which the Indians posted a 20-0-3 record, they have outscored opponents, 113-8.

        The coach credited all 28 players, which includes seventh- and eighth- graders, in the middle school program for this season's success.

        According to Arner, the girls who played exclusively on the junior varsity team pushed the varsity players to get better.

        "Playing with grit was the theme of our season," said the coach, a fifth grade teacher at Marlborough Elementary School. "Because (the JV girls) worked hard to improve their game, everyone else worked hard, too."

        The team, which included the performance of two-year, eighth-grade starters Aiyi Young, Michaela Greczek, Lindsey Collins, Carly Eidle, Madison Sanfelice and Tori Williams, capped their season with a 5-0 victory over Owen J. Roberts on Nov. 4.

        Arner, who has coached the team for five seasons, and JV coach Deb Macioge , a health education teacher at the middle school, focus on team-building and making the game fun for the players.

        "My goal is to convey my love of the game to them," Arner said. "They girls gel every year.  The girls always rise to the challenge. It's so much fun. I love my job."

        However, the coach said her team's success has been facilitated by a robust feeder program. According to Arner, Jamie Martin, head coach of Upper Perkiomen's high school field hockey team, started the program several years ago.

        Arner said approximately 60 girls throughout the district, from kindergarten through fifth grade, participated this season.

        "It's stronger than ever," Arner said of the program, which is organized and coached by teachers and parents throughout the district.

        The middle school coach estimates that eight of the varsity's 11 starters this season had played the sport before entering the program.

        "Our players are pretty skilled," said Arner, whose team outscored opponents 47-1 during the regular season. "Between the feeder programs and other clubs that some of girls are playing on, the overall skill of our players have definitely increased."

        The defense, anchored by eighth graders Sanfelice, Williams and Jenna Fiorito,  dominated, according to coach. She said Eidle, the team's goalkeeper, recorded 21 saves on 22 shots on goal the entire season.

        Arner said a 1-0 win over Arcola Middle School, in the Methacton School District, in the team's initial scrimmage provided a clue that her team might have another successful season.

        "It wowed me because we've never beaten that team before," the coach said. "The girls really wanted to win, and they were focused on it all year."

        According to Arner, her players quickly decided to set a goal of not allowing a goal. They didn't allow one until a 3-1 win over Spring-Ford in the penultimate goal of the season on the turf field at Upper Perkiomen High School on Nov. 2.

        "The girls were a little disappointed when they gave it up," the coach said.

        According to Arner, the high school's hockey team will benefit from the influx of talent.

        "I can't wait to see this group's impact at the next level," she said. "They have an outstanding work ethic. They never settle for second best."






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