Last updated: February 17. 2013 7:21AM - 62 Views

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The defending national champion West Chester field hockey team is off to another great start and senior Kayla Gluchowski is once again in the thick of things.

Gluchowski (Crestwood) helped the Golden Rams capture the NCAA Division II crown with a 2-1 victory over UMass-Lowell last season. She had an assist and a defensive save in the title game and was named to the All-Tournament team. Prior to that, she was a second team All-American and a first team PSAC selection.

This season, West Chester is off to a 9-1 start and is 4-0 in the PSAC. Despite a 3-0 loss to No. 2 Shippensburg the Golden Rams are still ranked first in the country and Gluchowski, a co-captain, has seven goals and three assists with two game-winners.

"Kayla is someone the team looks up to on the field for her leadership and the 100 percent effort she shows." coach Amy Cohen said. "Her speed and skill on the ball is definitely a concern for other teams as she disrupts their backfield play constantly. She really came into her own during the spring season."

Three other area players are on the squad – sophomore Hannah Davies (Crestwood) and freshmen Leanne McManus (Meyers) and Alexa Moran (Crestwood).

Davies has started nine games on defense, the team giving up just 10 goals in 10 games with four shutouts.

"Hannah has provided us with stability in the backfield and has done a solid job anchoring our defense," Cohen said. "She is a leader and her positive and commanding voice can be heard all over the field."

McManus and Moran have seen just limited action on the veteran team.

"Leanne is a spark off the bench for us," Cohen said. "She's had some injuries early but now she is providing depth at the forward position. Alexa is explosive with the ball and is really hard to defend. We really started to notice her about two weeks ago when she was constantly taking the ball from our starting lineup."

GOOD START FOR AYERS – High Point sophomore Reece Ayers (Tunkhannock) finished 31 out of 220 runners at the recent Winthrop Cross Country Invitational in Rock Hill, S.C. His 8k time was 25:53.43. Prior to that, he competed in the Demon Deacons Quad Meet which had two runners taking turns running 2,500 meters. He and a teammate finished second.

"Reece is healthy and training very well," coach Mike Esposito said. "He didn't run last weekend due to a virus but is ready to take a big step forward."

The coach likes Ayers' passionate approach to the sport of running.

"Reece is a great teammate and all the kids respect him," Esposito said. "We expect him to be our fourth or fifth runner this fall."

Freshman Ben Robinson, also from Tunkhannock, is a member of the squad and has impressed Esposito.

"Ben is doing very well for us in his first year," the coach said. "He is presently running in our top 10 and is a great kid to have on the team."

GLADEY BOUNCES BACK – After missing last season with a knee injury, red-shirt sophomore Taylor Gladey is back in action with the William & Mary field hockey team.

Gladey (Crestwood) has played in 10 games off the bench for the Tribe, who are 9-3 overall and 21 in the Colonial Athletic Association. She has a goal and an assist.

"Taylor has improved with each game," coach Peel Hawthorne said. "Her quickness, speed and tenacity on our defensive press have been especially effective. As she has grown more confident with her knee (following surgery) she has been more aggressive and more willing to take risks."

Gladey played in 18 games with five starts two years ago as a freshman.

"Taylor's shots and general ball handling skills have improved tremendously over her freshman season," Hawthorne said. "She is one of the first subs off the bench and I can always count on her to spark the team. She gives us the defensive pressure and fast break speed that we need to win."

WEBB HELPING BULLDOGS – Junior Scott Webb (Dallas) is playing midfield for the DeSales men's soccer team which is 7-2-2 overall and 1-0-0 in the Freedom Conference after a league-opening 2-1 triumph over Eastern last weekend. The Bulldogs are 3-0-1 in their last four games.

Webb collected his first college goal in a 2-1 loss to Cabrini in early September.

"Scott is a great team player who has gained more confidence in his playing ability this season," coach George Crampton said.

Webb has played in 10 games and started five this season after seeing action in 16 games his first two seasons with the team.

BIG GOALS FOR HACKETT – Junior Madeline Hackett of Shavertown (Wyoming Seminary) has scored three goals for the Boston University field hockey team. The 5-foot-8 midfielder had the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Providence and a goal in a 4-1 triumph over Kent State. Last Sunday, she had a goal as the Terriers were nipped by No. 5-ranked Connecticut 3-2.

"Madeline is a versatile midfielder with outstanding attacking skill," coach Sarah Starr said. "Each year she has shown improvement and her experience and leadership as a junior makes here a very valuable player for us."

The Terriers, ranked 12th in the country, are 7-4-0 overall and 1-0-0 in the America East Conference after a 2-1 victory over No. 23 Albany last Friday. Among the losses are 2-0 setbacks to No. 2 Syracuse and No. 7 Virginia.

PRATT'S A VETERAN – Senior Erik Pratt is an anchor on the offensive line for the high-scoring West Chester football team.

Pratt (Tunkhannock) is a 6-foot-5, 275-pound left tackle and he's helped the Golden Rams average 449.4 yards per game in total offense. In last Saturday's 37-34 victory over No. 6-ranked California, PA, West Chester picked up 500 yards (211 rushing and 289 passing).

"Eric has played a lot of football for us over the past three years but he's really come into his own this year," coach Bill Zwaan said. "He is stronger and healthier this year and it really shows."

The coach feels that Pratt is helped by the fact that he's very athletic and also versatile, being able to play both tackle and guard.

"Eric has taken a leadership role for the offensive line this year," Zwaan said. "He has become what we were hoping for when we recruited him."

The Golden Rams are 4-1, having lost their opener 41-21 to Delaware, a team ranked eighth in the Football College Subdivision. West Chester travels to East Stroudsburg Saturday.

DISABATINOS SOLID – Twin sisters Jenna and Cassie DiSabatino, both former Crestwood High standouts, are key performers on the No. 3 Bloomsburg field hockey team which is 9-3 overall and 3-1 in the PSAC after losing 4-1 to No. 2 Shippensburg Friday and 4-2 to Mansfield Saturday.

Jenna has 12 goals and three assists for 27 points to lead the Huskies. She has three game-winners.

"Jenna is a dynamic player with some of the best stick work and field hockey talent in the conference," coach Nicole Rhoads said. "She gets the job done on our attack, her stats showing what she has accomplished in just the start of our season. Her work ethic continues to improve every day which could tab her with some great individual achievements at the end of the season."

Cassie is a key performer on both ends of the field. She has three goals and two assists and picked up a goal and an assist in a 6-2 victory over Stonehill.

"Cassie has been anchoring our outside midfield, playing both integral roles of our attack and defense," Rhoads said. "She has a great ability to distribute the ball in our transition play and she brings a great effort on our defensive unit as well. And her leadership as grown tremendously from last season to this."

Sophomore Nikki Black (Northwest Area) is also a member of the team. She's seen action in four games off the bench.

SEMENZA'S STARTING – Freshman Nicole Semenza (Hazleton Area) has started all nine games for the 2-6-1 Mansfield women's soccer team which picked up a big 1-0 victory over Shepherd last Saturday.

"Nikki is doing a very good job as our starting outside right back," coach Tim Dempsey said. "Her play has been steady. She's physically very tough in one-on-one situations and also very composed with the ball under pressure."

The coach feels that there are a couple of areas that Semenza needs to improve on.

"I would say that her fitness level and her communication with the other backs are two aspects of her game she needs to work on," Dempsey said. "I believe that will come in the years ahead as she does our year-round training program and gets more comfortable with her teammates. She is very coachable and I looking forward to coaching her over the next three-plus years."

Bill Arsenault covers the local athletes competing at the collegiate level for The Times Leader. Reach him at billarsenault70@msn.com.

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