WILKES-BARRE – While the U.S. women's field hockey team has fought through the ongoing Olympic tournament, they have been tested by some of the world's powers, along the way responding with an upset of Argentina and close losses to Germany, Australia and New Zealand. The team's effort culminates today against Belgium with the American's looking to rebound after an unexpected loss to South Africa just a few days ago which set its record at 1-4, one not good enough for medal contention.
But while the U.S. won't be medaling this summer, they've certainly made a mark as an up-and-coming team with at least one former member.
"I've been watching some of the games and it looks like they have a team of young, skillful, dynamic players who are also fearless and that's always great to have," said former national team member Lauren Powley, 28 and now living in Wilkes-Barre.
"I think they have a lot of younger talent between 20 and 23 years old who now have Olympic experience under their belt. They have seven or eight veterans from the '08 team and I think it makes for a good mix. The veterans bring experience and those younger players are always a spark," said Powley. "Hopefully the veterans stick around and the younger players will learn from this time around. The future is looking bright for them, I believe."
Amongst the talented and younger players that Powley saw play was Paige Selenski, a selection from the team who played at Dallas before attending the University of Virginia.
"I saw a few highlights of her scoring on a reverse chip shot, which should be her trademark because it's a really good one," said Powley. "She's fast, has good control and seems to have a positive impact when she's on the field. She scores some amazing goals."
Powley, who played for the team at the 2008 Olympics, has certainly earned her say after spending the better part of the last decade wracking up accomplishments in the sport.
Powley capped a stellar high school career – two All-American selections, three All-State selections – at Wyoming Seminary with a Class 2A PIAA Championship in 2001 before moving on to the University of Maryland. There, while playing the center midfield position and earning First Team All-American honors in three consecutive seasons, Powley earned a national championship in 2005 after making it to the NCAA tournament's Final Four the previous two seasons. In her time spent with the Terrapins, Powley's vision on the field and ability to set up teammates earned her acceptance to the Senior National Squad.
The team posted an overall record of 1-1-3 in '08, not good enough for a medal but still something far from a disappointment.
"When I got to Beijing it was a little surreal, but, you have to treat it like any other tournament, even if it is the Olympics and the largest stage you'll ever play on," said Powley. "And I'm content with my performance in the tournament. You always think you can play better in certain areas, but, overall I'd say I'm happy with my performance. It was very exciting. It's an amazing thing to be able to represent your country. It was definitely something I'll carry with me the rest of me life."
After the Games, Powley continued her stint with the national team until 2010, playing in a handful of tournaments along the way but also experiencing what was then a first for her in the sport.
"I attended World Cup qualifier and that was my last big event. We were living and training in San Diego and after we had at least a month off and then we would usually train Monday through Friday, two practices a day between eight a.m. and four p.m." said Powley. "With all that time spent doing the same thing for so long, I wasn't enjoying playing any more. I wasn't enjoying the sport I had loved since I started playing in the seventh grade.
"I was burnt out, physically, from training day in and day out for so long and sometimes going months without seeing some competition."
8:30 a.m. today