Baldwin gears up for playoffs

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With five one-goal defeats against quality opponents, Baldwin’s field hockey team had more than its share of moral victories. What it needed, coach Mike Hoover said, was a notch in the win column.

Sophomore Tess Ferguson assists on goals by juniors Dana Elcock and Diana Meere, and senior goaltender Victoria Feeney made five saves to lead the Lady Bruins past visiting New Hyde Park on Oct. 10, 2-0, to snap a six-game slide.

“It was a good win,” Hoover said. “We were playing pretty well against some strong teams and losing by a goal. We talked about sticking together and playing hard. Things needed to change and the girls really wanted to get a win.”

Elcock scored midway through the first half, her fourth goal of the season, and Meere added the insurance, her first of the year, with 10 minutes remaining. They team with Ferguson and senior Katie Kallamni to form Baldwin’s forward group.

“Dana’s a playmaker and has a burst of speed that people can’t keep up with,” Hoover said. “She’s a great athlete and has excellent field sense.”

Meere and Ferguson are gaining more and more confidence by the day, Hoover said, and Kallamni is always around the ball and brings an aggressive style.

In the midfield, one of the team’s best all-around player, junior Alexa Stegmuller, helps control the center of the field and is a weapon on penalty corners. “She filled an important role last year and came back that much stronger,” Hoover said. “She has tremendous stick skills and vision. She’s tough defensively in the open field and gets us going in transition.”

The rest of the midfield is young, with sophomores Deejanae Lawrence, Marcela Figueroa and Kourtney Bobb getting the bulk of minutes. Lawrence has proven a fast learner and has a good feel for the sport, Hoover said. Figueroa is just getting up to speed after missing a few weeks due to injury, and Bobb has picked up the slack during her absence.

Defensively, senior Debbie Ariston is the anchor and brings a combination of quickness and skill. Senior Jaelyn Evans is a pure defender and tough to solve one-on-one, while senior Arielle Savoy and sophomore Cianna Gibson have both been reliable.

Feeney, a first-year starter in goal, had a dedicated offseason that brought her game to another level. “She’s always in the right position and it takes a great shot to beat her,” Hoover explained.

The Lady Bruins (3-7) are two years removed from winning the Nassau Class A title. Their main competition for the crown this fall, defending champ Massapequa and Port Washington, happen to also be their last two regular-season opponents. Baldwin beat Massapequa, 1-0, on a goal by Kallamni, on Sept. 15, and dropped a 3-2 decision at Port Washington five days later with Elcock and Ferguson finding the net.

“Depending on how the dust settles, we’ll be the top three seeds in some order,” Hoover said. “We knew the regular season would be a challenge, but we can be right there come playoff time.”