A handful of Montgomery County high school field hockey players departed for Virginia Beach, Va., late last month and returned with an invitation to the upcoming Junior Olympics, a silver medal and positive memories of the National Futures Championship.
Walter Johnson rising junior Anna Rowthorn-Apel earned a selection to the Under-16 Junior Olympics, which will take place next month in Houston. This will be the second time Rowthorn-Apel, who produced 17 goals and 14 assists last fall for the Wildcats, has been selected to participate in the Junior Olympics.
“I thought the level of play was a lot harder than last year. I was really nervous,” said Rowthorn-Apel, who torched opponents for five goals in six games, pushing Team Nagano to a fourth-place finish. “I just played my best and it paid off. I'm really happy.”
Recent Poolesville High graduate Amy Defnet and Quince Orchard grad Kelly Baick snared silver medals, helping Team Cortina reach the U-19 final before falling, 2-0, to Team Innsbruck. Defnet, who will play at Farleigh Dickinson University (N.J.) this fall, was the goalie of record in a pair of penalty stroke victories to propel Cortina to the final match. She surrendered just one goal in the tournament.
“It was a really good game,” Defnet said of the final. “The first goal was scored on a stroke on the other goalie and on I got scored on by a deflection late in the second half. Our team was great. We had really good team chemistry. We came from all over: Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Maryland, [and] Connecticut.
“It was amazing. I made a lot of friends down there [and] we met the field hockey Olympic team, which was amazing. We got to see them play and meet each of them personally.”
Also enjoying their time at the tournament were Quince Orchard graduate Alexandra Jamison, who is headed to Tufts University (Mass.) and Connelly School of the Holy Child graduate Anna Kate Smith, who will play for Washington College next fall. Jamison and Smith play locally for the Jackals field hockey club along with Defnet and Rowthorn-Apel as well as Academy of the Holy Cross rising senior Hannah Suttle, Clarksburg rising junior Ashley Wong and Walt Whitman rising senior Krishna Jaitly, who competed in Virginia Beach as well.
“It was really fun,” said Jamison, who posted 11 goals and 10 assists last fall for the Cougars. “This was my third year going and it was the best team I've ever played on. This year was really exciting. We finished in fifth place.
“I felt like I played really well. I didn't have to stress about college recruiting. This was my last time and I wanted to go out there and have a great time and I did.”
“The competition was college level, which was good because I'm playing at Washington College,” said Smith, who had a goal and five assists in the tournament. “You always had to work for [a win] and it was more of a team sport … because the competition level was so high, you had to rely on your teammates.”
Jackals founder and Under-19 director-coach Jenna Ries, who attended the National Futures Championship, said the county and perhaps the state as a whole took another competitive step.
“All of them generally played really well,” said Ries, who is the athletic director and field hockey coach at Holy Cross. “Typically, the Maryland teams are at the bottom of the bracket. Nobody went through the loser's pool. It was marked improvement for these guys.
“Amy and Anna Rowthorn-Apel definitely distinguished themselves at that level. There were 21 people from Region 7 and seven of them were Jackals. It was a definitely a big step forward.”