* Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a nine-part series previewing the Davis High fall sports.
It may be surprising to hear coach Sandie Marotti-Huckins’ take on the 2014 edition of the Davis High field hockey team, a squad that lost 13 players to graduation.
With players like senior Rachel Foley and junior Danielle Mentink leading the way, Marotti-Huckins believes this Blue Devil group could blossom into one of the best she’s ever coached.
Over the summer, Foley — one of just two seniors on the team with Lyla Godfryd — joined her coach and teammate Mentink at the National Futures Championship, an elite field hockey event in Lancaster, Pa.
Qualifying for that tournament put Foley and Mentink in the top 12 percent of U.S. prep field hockey players.
Now, the pair look to bring similar success to the Devils, who open the regular season with a Wednesday home game against River Valley (7 p.m.).
Davis finished second to Chico in the Eastern Athletic League last year, but won the conference’s postseason tournament. This season, the Blue Devils are looking to move back into the top of the regular-season standings.
And their coach knows that the team’s fitness level will go a long way toward making that goal a reality.
“Just like every year, we expect to come out of the league in first place and then win the tournament,” Marotti-Huckins said. “We will be the fittest team on campus and probably in the entire section. We’re priding ourselves on our conditioning.”
In preparation for the meat of the EAL slate, Davis has scheduled a couple of challenging nonconference away games against teams like Gilroy (Sept. 19), St. Ignatius (Sept. 20) and St. Francis (Oct. 4).
“We have some really fun out-of-league games … that are (against) good competition,” Foley said. “They’re away games so those are always really fun; I always look forward to those.
“Our goal is to win the league, which, as of (last) weekend, seems very likely.”
Last weekend in Chico, the locals won six of seven games at a grueling one-day preseason jamboree.
Though happy with that success, the Devils have at least one phase of the game that they are looking to improve.
“We really want to practice our short corners, which are like set plays,” Foley explained. “We want to score on half of those.”
If DHS to lives up to its coach’s high expectations, key contributions will come from returning players like Darby Maguire, Hannah Denton, Whitney Sacramento and Nicole Pugh, who was called up from JV and scored a goal in last year’s EAL tournament.