RYE, N.Y. -- Annie Van Wagenen recalled coming to the Rye varsity field hockey games to watch her older sisters, Charlotte and Libby play. The youngest sister would always bring her field hockey stick to games and, after a while, run over to the playground to meet up with friends who had their sticks. Together, they would play field hockey.
This was the beginning of Van Wagenens field hockey career. Now, entering her senior year, Van Wagenen is hoping to achieve what her sisters did -- win a state championship.
When I started playing modified, I was really excited to start because I was hoping to develop into the players I watched my sisters become. said Van Wagenen, during a water break in Fridays practice.
Van Wagenen benefited from working with her older sisters, especially when they were home from college.
Charlotte and I would go out in the back yard and hit the ball around, Van Wagenen said. I watched her intensity and she gave me that drive.
Rye, led by captains Emma Brinkman, G.G. Fitzgerald, Tori Virtue and Van Wagenen, is driven for the start of the 2011 season. The Garnets, who are second in Section 1 with four state championships (2000, 01, 03 and 07) to Lakeland, have been Section 1 Class B finalists the last two years. Unfortunately, the Garnets have played Lakeland, which won the last two Class B state championships.
Last year was especially difficult for Rye. After a scoreless first half, Lakeland took a 1-0 lead, but Van Wagenen appeared to have evened the score with one minute remaining. However, the goal was nullified.
One official said they saw the goal and the other said they didnt see the goal, Van Wagenen said. Weve all been a part of losing the last two years and we know we never want that to happen again. This has lit the fire for us and made us work even harder so we can keep the bar high.
Van Wagenen was referring to the excellence of Ryes field hockey program. The Garnets were led to prominence by former coach Kevin Kelly, now the Manhattanville field hockey coach. He amassed more than 300 wins.
Beginning in 2000, the Garnets won the first of its four state titles. It also played in the 2004 state final, but lost a heartbreaker to Windsor in double overtime. Ironically, Rye outplayed and outshot Windsor during the game, but the Windsor goalie had an outstanding game.
The bar is set so high and everyone wants to work that much harder because of the state championships, Van Wagenen said. Its been exciting to play field hockey for Rye because it is so intense.
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