Veteran lineup returns for WPIAL field hockey runner-up Fox Chapel

Saturday, September 18, 2021 | 11:01 AM

Fox Chapel was a WPIAL finalist in field hockey in 2020.

The Foxes lost 2-1 to undefeated defending champion Penn-Trafford in the Class 2A final Nov. 2 at a chilly Burk Stadium in Fox Chapel.

The Fox Chapel girls were vying for a seventh WPIAL championship in school history; they have been runners-up four times.

Fox Chapel, led by Lily Zaltman & Co., finished 6-3-1 in section play a year ago and logged a 6-5-1 regular-season mark. Penn-Trafford finished first in the section.

This year’s team, which started out 0-2, is top-heavy with older players with eight seniors and seven juniors.

“My expectations for this year are that we find something to improve on from game to game, big or small, and that we remain poised under pressure,” coach Emily Humiston said. “We feel like this team is well-prepared for the season, but we have to be constantly improving and refining our skills.

“We had a really strong scrimmage but fell short in our execution and discipline in our first two games. Since then, we’ve put a lot of time into identifying and correcting our shortcomings and making sure the whole team is on the same page about what our goals are and what it takes to achieve those goals. We are confident they have the capacity to make these improvements.”

Mira Tramontina is a senior goalkeeper and is flanked by senior defenders Meghan DeLuca, Sydney Kennedy and Izabella Stern.

The senior class also is represented on the squad by forward Jess Balk, midfielder Alden March and midfielders/forwards Isabella Geraci and Olivia Pelcher.

Midfielders Anna Drum, Mercer Murton and Marley Pistella, forwards Eden Brush and Alexandra Solomon, defender Leah Kenyon and D/M Caroline Bonidy are juniors.

The five sophomores are goalie Nora Siri, Annalese Bartolacci (M/F), Amelia Costello (M), Chloe Kim (D/F) and Mira Busch (D) while Ava Persichetti (M/F) is a top freshman prospect.

The Panthers’ early season starting lineup consists of Pelcher, Solomon and Balk at forward; Costello, Drum, March and Bartolacci at midfield; Kenyon, Bonidy and Busch on defense; with Tramontina at the goalkeeper position.

Key reserves include Kennedy (F/M/D), Murton (M) and DeLuca (D).

“This year’s team has a great deal of high-level experience,” Humiston said, “but they also have a very strong bond and commitment to each other. We have a lot of depth in terms of skill and determination, so we truly feel like we can put anyone in at any time.”

Humiston joined the FC coaching staff in 2018 and took over as head coach a year later. She graduated from North Allegheny as the all-time scoring leader in field hockey, then went on to play at Division I Providence College.

She was a starting midfielder/forward at Providence and the recipient of the team’s Mountain Climber award given for achievement in the face of adversity and challenge.

She was a Big East All-Academic in college and the first-ever female named Student-Athlete of the Month at Providence.

She became the youngest head coach of a WPIAL varsity team when she was in charge of the Oakland Catholic field hockey squad in 2017.

“My coaching philosophy is centered around development,” Humiston said. “To me, one of my main objectives as a coach is to help the players on the team grow not only as athletes but as young women. Only a small percentage of high school athletes continue on to play their sport at the next level, so the lessons I teach and the values I try to instill are always ones they can apply in settings outside of sports. I want to be giving these young women the tools that will help them be kind, hard-working and successful people long after they graduate high school, while also developing a championship program.”

Fox Chapel is a member of Section 2-2A along with Latrobe, Peters Township, Oakland Catholic and Upper St. Clair.

The Foxes have won nine section titles in field hockey since 2007, including six in a row from 2012-17.


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