BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston senior field hockey goalkeeper Aislinn O'Keefe recorded 17 saves in an exciting shoot out victory that knocked out No. 6 seed Westfield in the Union County Tournament. O'Keefe has recorded 157 saves in the team's 9-7-1 season to date.
O'Keefe is named Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week for her 17 game saves and heroically stopping four shots in the shoot-out victory against Westfield to advance her team in the UCT. She credits the win as a "total team effort." [No. 7 seed GL faced No. 3 seed Kent Place in the quarterfinal round, losing 4-0.]
In her first year playing the sport, she has never played in a shoot-out situation. O'Keefe admits there were nerves to contend with, but her coaches and teammates gave her advice to reassure her that she could win it. "During the shoot out, I blocked everything from my mind and kept my eye on the ball to keep the pressure low. I took it one shot at a time. It did not matter if I blocked it or if the girl scored because I was already focused on the next shot."
O'Keefe is thankful to her friends because she may have never given field hockey a try if it weren't for them asking her to play.
"A lot of my friends play field hockey and they had been texting me all summer to try out because both goalies graduated last year, so I decided to try out," said O'Keefe. "After seeing how much fun field hockey is, I definitely wish I started earlier."
"The field hockey team really is a family and the sport itself is really fun to play," she said. "I owe a lot to my team because without them I wouldn’t even be playing field hockey now. --I would’ve missed out on an awesome experience without them."
Below are comments from Aislinn regarding her past, present and future:
TAPinto: What made you choose to play goalie? Did any other sports help you in picking up the necessary skills?
Aislinn: I did not really chose to play goalie, my friends chose me. In middle school I had been a soccer goalie so I had a general idea of how to play the position despite never playing field hockey. Softball helped me with my skills because I have to keep my eye on the ball and be able to react to many different shots, including using my stick to block shots, which is similar to hitting a softball.
TAPinto: Field hockey has a lot of rules -- what has been the most difficult part of picking up a new position and sport?
Aislinn: The most difficult part for me is still learning the best angles to block shots and when to be aggressive on breakaways, which will come with experience.
TAPinto: What are your goals for the team this year?
Aislinn: Our main goal was beating our record of 5 wins last year which we have already achieved and I’m hoping that the team can win the conference this year.
TAPinto: Do you have a game or play that stands out as a favorite game/team moment?
Aislinn: The dogpile at the end of the Westfield shoot out is my favorite moment from this season. Everyone on the team was psyched that we were able to beat Westfield, especially because it was a county game. Knowing that everyone contributed to that win made it memorable.
TAPinto: Are there any other players or coaches that have influenced you?
Aislinn: My dad is my biggest influence, he always pushes me to be the best person I can be and to always be looking for ways to get better in everything from sports to school.
TAPinto: Do you have a pre-game ritual?
Aislinn: Before every game once I am in the goal, I tap the crossbar with my stick and my hand and shuffle from post to post
TAPinto: What's your favorite high school memory?
Aislinn: My favorite high school memory was winning the county softball championship against Clark last year.
TAPinto: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
Aislinn: My favorite professional athlete is Mike Piazza, he was my favorite baseball player growing up and he was very good at his sport.
Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Delicious Heights, a family restaurant with three locations; Berkeley Heights, Bedminster and Basking Ridge, where it is part of the Basking Ridge County Club operating a public restaurant with outdoor dining, and acting as the banquet caterer, boasting a facility with panoramic views of the sprawling golf course. Visit our website, www.deliciousheights.com for weekly specials including Happy Hour specials from 3-6pm and daily featured dinner and lunch specials. Delicious Heights....where our only limitations are yours!