NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The West Essex field hockey team is off to a red-hot start at 5-0, and one of the main reasons is star midfielder Emily Holleuffer.
“Even though we’re still kind of young like last year, that still doesn’t stop us,” said Holleuffer. “We’re just hoping to keep pushing through, keep growing throughout the season and hope to get to states and even further.”
The senior has helped lead a squad full of underclassmen this season. Embracing her coaches’ next-player-up philosophy, the group has excelled with her help.
“[Head coach Jill Cosse] likes us to think about no one being a senior or freshman,” said Holleuffer. “Everyone should be seen as an equal and you shouldn’t be able to tell who’s in what grade on the field.”
This season, Holleuffer has led the Lady Knights in every major statistical category, producing six goals and four assists for the season thus far and tallying points in every game to date.
“We’ve been doing a lot of circle play at practice and working on taking our shots at 25 yards and having the off-setters cutting especially on corners,” the midfielder said. “We’re just trying to have fun with it.”
Holleuffer has adjusted to a new position in 2019 after being primarily a forward in 2018. She has since moved to the midfield position to help facilitate the attack and seeks to improve for the ever-crucial senior campaign.
“I’m always looking to assist the forwards that are always up there especially the sophomores and get back on defense because now in that wing position, I have to be flat for the defenders and sprint up for the balls, I kind of want to be there for the team,” said Holleuffer.
Focusing on becoming more of an all-around player, Holleuffer worked on the subtle elements of playing fundamental defense.
“I wanted to work on my defense because I was so focused on post balls and scoring last season,” said Holleuffer. “But this season, I’ve tried to work more on my defense to get back and be flat for the shots.”
Although the squad is quite young, the group as a whole still has very high expectations set forth by the program’s past. Holleuffer expects the team to continue to perform as the season goes on.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I think we have a lot of improvement to make, but we’re doing really well and have so much more to come and room to grow…everyone has the same passion.”
Holleuffer and her team will have the chance to continue with their early season success as the Knights take on Kent Place on Tuesday.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Changes have been made to this article to reflect that Emily Holleuffer is a senior rather than a junior, as was previously reported.