New coach, big goals for Norwin field hockey
Friday, August 23, 2019 | 8:28 PM
It is a new era for the Norwin field hockey team.
Will Kelly has taken over as the Knights’ coach, and while he does not have field hockey coaching experience, he is well versed in what the Norwin field hockey program is all about.
His daughter, Bailee Kelly, is a senior on the team.
“I have coached every other sport under the sun,” Will Kelly said. “I got to know most of the girls the last few years and know the parents. The team has been really receptive. We had a camp over the summer with really good participation.
“We’re excited to see them coming together as a team and adding some new ideas.”
Kelly said he has benefited from having assistant coach Kelly Quealy, a former player at St. Francis (Pa.). The coaching staff will look to continue Norwin’s upward trajectory. The Knights reached the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs for the first time last season since 2010.
A 1-0 loss to Peters Township ended last season. That game has served as motivation in the offseason.
“That was a difficult game,” he said. “The girls are ready to take it a step further this season.”
Junior midfielder Carly Kubacka is entering her third season with the team. The Knights will look for extended roles from senior Jade Taylor and juniors Karlie Pavlic and Emma Mazur. Norwin lost several of its top offensive players from last season to graduation, so the opportunity is there for goal-scorers to step up.
“We are fortunate to have almost too many (attackers) and midfielders,” Will Kelly said. “Everyone wants to play offense. We are still moving the pieces around.”
Goalie Bailee Kelly will look to continue Norwin’s success on defense. The Knights recorded six shutouts last season. Seniors Skylar Lindberg and Jaylene Warman were contributors to that strong defense.
“We have a good core of seniors and a bunch of juniors,” Will Kelly said.
“But all the juniors have good varsity experience. I cannot say enough about how well they work together as a team. They have worked so hard on everything to improve on what they did last year.”
Will Kelly expects the hierarchy of WPIAL Division I field hockey to not change much this season. He said North Allegheny and Pine-Richland are the teams to beat, but he said others could be on the upswing.
“Hempfield has made some great strides,” he said.
Kelly might be in his first season as coach, but he has high expectations for his squad. He knows the talent is there to take another step forward as a program.
“My goal is to finish strong,” he said. “We want to move forward from where we were, and that could be a WPIAL championship.”