Freshmen on the road to reaching field hockey goals

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By Julia Harris, Staff Reporter

Although freshmen Shae Wozniak and Lexi Patterson are both younger than 16, they are already on the road to playing field hockey on the United States national team. After an extensive half-year long process of selections, trials and playing in front of professionals, the girls are on the last leg of their journey.

Nexus, the program in which the girls have been participating, began with a select 1,500 girls. Then, 200 were chosen to participate in the final championship in July 2021. In the end, the top 48 were picked to try out for the U-16 training camp, which is basically a funnel to being on the national team. Wozniak was named as a definite participant (her team even won the championship in July) and Patterson as an alternate. Wozniak was shocked to have been selected. 

“I was just so overwhelmed since I did not expect to get selected since I’m still very young, and at my age it’s mostly sophomores and juniors that get selected to play for these international teams,” Wozniak said. “Coming up in January, I’m just focusing on training, and my coaches have already set up training plans for me to get me prepared for this try-out and to hopefully make the team.”  

Patterson also talked about how she feels to have been considered for the camp.  

“I was so excited and thankful (to be selected). There were so many people they could have chosen to be considered, and it was just a crazy feeling (that they chose me),” Patterson said.   

Besides the recent training for this specific program, the girls have substantial prior field hockey experience. Both started their journeys young, with Wozniak playing for the first time in second grade and Patterson in first. They are also on club teams, which contributes to their success as athletes at Conestoga.   

Currently, the Conestoga varsity field hockey team is ranked number eleven in the state. The girls’ young talent has been helpful in pushing ’Stoga’s team up the rankings. Wozniak plays attacking center mid, and Patterson mainly plays midfield or defense. The head field hockey coach, Regan Marscher, values the skill sets of both girls. 

“Both players bring a solid skill set and exceptional game knowledge to our team,” Marscher said. “(Shae and Lexi) never give up, and they are always looking to learn more. The entire team really understands the value they bring, especially since they have been put in two key positions that were left vacant by talented players who graduated last year.” 

As for being on the national team, the camp will be another hurdle to pass. Regardless, the girls look forward to meeting new people and learning new things there. It is expected to focus on developing skills and decision making on and off the field. Wozniak talked about how her journey has been so far.

“The people that are on my field hockey team are some of my closest friends and they’re part of my family,” Wozniak said. “I think it’s a very strategic sport. It requires you to be physically perseverant. There’s so much training involved with it, but it only pushes you harder when playing.”  

Both Wozniak and Patterson hope to continue to compete with field hockey far into the future, wanting to play in college. Their participation in this camp is an extremely vital step to helping them reach that goal. Wozniak also mentioned a separate dream of playing in the Olympics.  

“Ultimately the national team is like the funnel into the overall goal for most young athletes, which used to be part of the Olympics,” Wozniak said. “For me, that is to be part of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Hopefully I’ll reach that end goal.”


Julia Harris can be reached at [email protected]