SUMMIT, NJ - Backed by returning goalie and human save machine Maddie Gaeta, the Summit High School Field Hockey Team, Sectional titleholders two of the last three years, is setting their sights on State Tournament success as they get set to begin their 2017 season.
In addition to Union County saves leader Gaeta who, according to Hilltoppers Head Coach Jen Schwarzenbek, exudes a communicating and calming influence on her team, the Maroon and White return the core of the lineup that -- while young in 2016 -- turned a so-so start into a juggernaut late-season run.
After winning six games in a row down the stretch, Summit stunned top-seeded Middletown North to make it a lucky seven, but then ran head first into Millburn, a team they had beaten during the regular season. Hopes for state tourney glory were dashed, however, as the Millers returned the 'L' the Hilltoppers had previously hung on them, the Summit setback coming in a contest wherein the girls from the 07901 did not bring their 'A game'.
Summit will look to get off to a better start to the season than in 2016, something Schwarzenbek says they have already done, given their pre-season performances and the upgraded esprit de corps on the team, with leadership provided by the team's four captains -- Maddie Gaeta, Megan Abate, Charlotte Greer and Margaret Robb.
The team has adopted a maximum commitment-oriented theme this year of 'All In."
While the Maroon and White celebrated Gaeta's 2016 stat total haul, they would like to not have her make as many stops this year, but also want to push the play at both ends of the field.
"Its a good feeling to know that we have Maddie back there, and we want to go forward more this year and look to improve offensively," said Schwarzenbek.
A budding youth program is starting to bear fruit, and depth will be a big plus for the Hilltoppers this season.
On the back line, expect defensive contributions from seniors Sophia Lusardi and Sheila Lawrence along with juniors Anna Huntley-Robertson, Devon Degan and Jessica Natunen.
Senior "playmakers" Abate and Robb propel the midfield, which will also include Hannah Burke and Elizabeth DeCeare.
Up front, an armada of players will look to score goals, led seniors Greer, Sydney Benevento, Grace Murray, Lucie Miller, and Amanda Michaels, joined by junior Ciara Lawlor and freshman Anna Gohring.
Schwarzenbek praises the team's morale and notes there is a "very good vibe" about her Hilltopper squad, which will be tested big-time and early as the face Kent Place, Oak Knoll and Millburn in the first two weeks of the season. The season opener is set for September 7 versus Westfield on the Upper Turf Field.
2017 Summit High School Varsity Field Hockey Team Roster
1 - Megan Abate, Midfield / Forward, Senior (C)
16 - Sydney Benevento, Forward, Senior
95 - Maddie Gaeta, Goalie, Senior (C)
17 - Charlotte Greer, Forward, Senior (C)
23 - Sheila Lawrence, Defense, Senior
15 - Sophia Lusardi, Defense, Senior
24 - Amanda Michaels, Forward, Senior
11- Lucie Miller, Forward, Senior
3 - Grace Murray, Forward, Senior
2 - Margaret Robb, Midfield, Senior (C)
6 - Maddie Robb, Defense, Senior
13 - Josephine Roberts, Defense, Senior
12 - Abigail Schulman, Midfield, Senior
25 - Maia Sirabian, Defense, Senior
9 - Hannah Burke, Midfield / Forward, Junior
20 - Elizabeth DeCesare, Midfield, Junior
22 - Devon Degen, Midfield, Junior
14 - Anna Huntley-Robertson, Defense, Junior
4 - Ciara Lawlor, Forward, Junior
10 - Jessica Natunen, Defense, Junior
91 - Elizabeth Gaeta, Goalie, Sophomore
5 - Anna Gohring, Forward, Freshman
(C) - denotes team captain
Head Coach - Jen Schwarzenbek
Assistant Coach- Dana Sweeney
JV Head Coach - Rachel Killeen
Freshman Head Coach- Brooke Simandl
Middle School Head Coach - Katerina McKee
2017 Summit High School Varsity Field Hockey Team Schedule
All home games played on the Summit High School Upper Turf Field
Sept. 7, 4 p.m. v. Westfield
Sept. 9, 11 a.m. @ AL Johnson
Sept. 11, 4 p.m. @ Kent Place
Sept. 13, 4 p.m. @ Oak Knoll
Sept. 16, 10 a.m. v. Montclair
Sept. 19, 4 p.m. v. Millburn
Sept. 22, 4 p.m. @ Bernards
Sept. 23, 11 a.m. @ Moorestown
Sept. 25, 4 p.m. v. South Plainfield
Sept. 27, 4 p.m. @ Glen Ridge
Sept. 28, 4 p.m. @ Morristown
Oct. 2, 4 p.m. v. Scotch Plains-Fanwood
Oct. 4, 4 p.m. v. Mount Saint Dominic Academy
Oct. 5, 4 p.m. @ Chatham
Oct. 9, 4 p.m. @ West Essex
Oct. 11, 4 p.m. v. Montclair Kimberly Academy
Oct. 13, 4 p.m. v. Cranford
Oct. 17, 4 p.m. v. Roxbury
Oct. 19, 4:p.m. @ Somerville