Tara Puffenberger has found a home with the field hockey team at Northwestern University.
Puffenberger (Dallas), a 5-foot-3 junior midfielder, is a key performer for the Wildcats. She has 10 goals and five assists for 25 points to help her 10th-ranked team post a 9-2 record. She has two game-winners. She spent her first two college seasons at the University of Virginia. She had to sit out last season.
"I had coached Tara on the United States Under-21 team for three or four years," coach Tracey Fuchs said. "She had verbally committed to Michigan when I was an assistant there but it didn't work out. It wasn't a good fit for her at Virginia and she got a transfer release. Staying on top of that is probably the best thing that I've done since I've been at Northwestern."
Fuchs feels that Northwestern is a good fit for Puffenberger and it's certainly a good fit for the Wildcats.
"Tara has been a real difference maker on both sides of the ball with her work ethic and her attacking skills," the coach said. "She's another veteran leader to go along with our 11 freshmen. Tara is loving field hockey again. When you sit out from something that you love, it really gives you a sense of ‘wow, I really miss this' and that's how Tara feels. This is as good as I have ever seen her play."
MYERS HONORED – Mansfield junior Jake Myers (Nanticoke Area) was named Collegiate Sprint Football League Defensive Player of the Week for his effort in his team's season-opening 23-16 victory over Princeton.
The 6-foot linebacker scored on a 69-yard interception return with 1:39 left in the game to ice the Mountaineers' victory. He also had five tackles, one a sack.
Myers also earned a weekly award last season and earned All-CSFL second team honors after leading Mansfield with 68 tackles, which was second in the league.
The Mountaineers return to action at home against Army Saturday.
DUO HELPS WILDCATS – Sophomore Jessica Swoboda of Hanover Township and freshman Ann Romanowski of West Pittston, both former Wyoming Seminary standouts, are with the Villanova field hockey team.
Swoboda has scored two goals and has three assists for the Wildcats, who are 4-5 overall and 0-2 in the Big East. She had seven goals and seven assists, including three game-winning goals, last season as a freshman.
"We love having Jess on our team," coach Joanie Milhous said. "She is such a major contributor in so many ways. Her work ethic is incredible and she leads by example. Last year she had great personal success but this year she has developed even more and has the personal success but is now creating many opportunities for her teammates. She is such a complete player."
Romanowski has played eight games and started seven despite being just a freshman.
"We have not been surprised about Ann's success at all," Milhous said. "We were actually expecting it. We saw her play last year and she stood out as such an incredible athlete with a ton of competitiveness and desire."
The coach loves having Wyoming Seminary players on her squad.
"They are strong, smart and competitive young ladies," she said.
CLARKE LEADS THE WAY – The Bloomsburg football team is off to a great start and junior Brian Clarke is a key member of the offensive line for the 4-0 Huskies, who defeated LIU-Post 42-27 last Saturday.
Clarke (Hanover Area), a 6-foot-3, 290-pound right guard, has helped Bloomsburg collect 2,070 yards in total offense with 1,296 coming on the ground. The team is averaging 40 points a game.
"Brian is the anchor of the offensive line that has helped make Bloomsburg one of the top rushing offensives in Division II," coach Danny Hale said. "Brian is also used on the defensive line at times, showing his versatility. He will get postseason honors."
The Huskies are back in action against Gannon in Bloomsburg on Saturday.
STEVE OWNS THE GOAL – Senior Peter Steve (Dallas) started all 16 games for the Mount St. Mary's men's soccer team last season and has played every minute (641.27) this season. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder has given up 13 goals with 25 saves for the 2-5 Mountaineers. Both his victories were shutouts – 1-0 over VMI and 1-0 over Howard last Sunday.
"Peter has been a tremendous leader to our team and is having an outstanding season," coach Rob Ryerson said. "He has progressed through hard work and dedication and is now a top-level Division I keeper. We are pleased he is with us as we move forward into the season."
A transfer from the University of Cincinnati, where he didn't see any action, Steve played two games as a sophomore before breaking out last season as a junior.
SWIDA, ZALEWSKI SOLID – Senior co-captain Jessica Lynne Swida (Holy Redeemer) and sophomore Ashley Zalewski (Tunkhannock) are doing the job for the Marywood women's volleyball team.
Swida, a defensive specialist, has 82 digs, 22 kills, 13 assists and 13 service aces for the Pacers, who are 9-6 overall and 2-1 in the Colonial States Athletic Conference.
"Jess has really stepped up as a leader," coach Sharon Uliana said. "She has been working very hard and it shows. And, it's contagious. She's been a motivator for the team. Her serving and passing have become much more consistent and she's definitely going to make the most of her senior season."
Zalewski, a 6-foot middle hitter, leads the team in kills with 134. She has 11 blocks, 11 digs and a .324 hitting percentage.
"Ashley has become an offensive threat throughout the conference and is one of the players that opponents tweak their defenses for in preparation," Uliana said. "Both Jess and Ashley have taken pretty big strides with their game development and consistency."
NOVAK SEEING ACTION – Freshman Bailey Novak (Coughlin) has played in six games off the bench for the Arcadia women's soccer team that features 16 upperclassmen.
"Bailey has been a great addition," coach Rick Brownell said. "She has a great attitude, works hard to improve and absolutely loves the game."
The coach feels that Novak brings a calming presence to the team when she's on the field.
"Bailey sees the field extremely well and we look forward to her continued development as a quintessential playmaker for us. She's a true pleasure to coach."
The Knights are 5-2-2 but are 4-0-1 in their last five games.
ORAM SHARING TIME – Freshman David Oram (Meyers) is seeing action as a goalkeeper for the Albright men's soccer team.
Oram, a 5-foot-8, 173-pounder, is one of three keepers that coach Pat Stanco has used this season. He's played in three games with two starts and one of his starts was a 3-0 shutout of Immaculata. He had to make just one save. Thus far, he has given up two goals with three saves.
"David is a very hard worker and is learning the college game," Stanco said. "His hard work and effort at practice has raised the level of the entire goalkeeping unit. I believe he has a bright future and I'm sure he will continue to see action throughout season."
The Lions are 6-2 on the season.
Bill Arsenault writes about local athletes competing at the collegiate level for The Times Leader. Reach him at email@example.com.