In a state with an abundance of talented field hockey players, coaches and teams, the West Milford High School program is to be reckoned with both locally and beyond.
With veteran, winning coach Krista Provost leading the way, the Highlanders are ready for the regular season to start on September 10 at home versus Academy of Saint Elizabeth.
“This season my top goal is to make it to the county finals,” Provost said. “We had a great streak in 2016, 2017 and 2018 [the team won the title in ‘16 and ‘17]. I know once this group gets to that point, we can work even harder to bring home the county title. We have a very strong competitive county, but that just energizes this group and makes them want it even more. Another goal that I have for my team is to enjoy their time together. I try to structure a weekly practice where we have an internal scrimmage and I mix the varsity, JV and frosh levels and we play against each other.
“I think it is important to let the girls work together... I fill the season with fun events like team BBQs, swimming parties, taco Tuesday dinners, team breakfasts with the youth program, team competition days and other events to give them a good mixture of fun and serious.”
Among the varsity-tested student athletes for the Highlanders this year are Meagan Van Kirk (senior, captain, forward), Samantha Krautheim (junior, goalie), Avery Vacca (junior, captain, center midfielder), Hayley Allwood (junior, forward), Jakke Galella (senior, captain, defender) and Amelia Pilatowski (junior, midfielder).
Newcomers hoping to make an impression at the varsity level include Laurel Space (sophomore, defender), Vivian Sirnik (sophomore, defender), Lily Kreutzer (sophomore, forward) and Ang Colucci (junior, forward).
“I have three captains and they are really stepping up in a big way so far this preseason,” Provost said. “Meagan plays for a club team and trains year-round. In addition to her club training, she attends all of the programs we offer to the team to prepare for the season. Jakke and Avery also participate in our winter, spring and summer academy programs and the overnight E.S.U. camp. The girls model respectful behavior, and what it means to be intense and play with heart. The best part about these three is that each one plays a different position, so all of the athletes have a go-to captain based on their position.
“In addition to the captains, Samantha Krautheim is a shining star and leader. For example, we had the timed mile run and she was not satisfied with her seven-minute mile time. She got the second quickest time but wanted to do better. The next day during our speed laps she added an extra sprint. She is always looking to improve and makes it known how important the team is to her and that she is always looking to better herself for her teammates. She also plays for a club team and trains year-round.”
West Milford tallied a fine overall record of 13-7 and advanced to the NJSIAA North Jersey Group 2 Sectional Tournament in 2021.
They compete in the NEFHL Division 1 along with Hackensack, Dwight-Englewood, Ramsey, River Dell, Passaic Valley, Pompton Lakes and Wayne Hills.
“I feel as though we will be a strong contender this season,” Provost said. “I have a core group of returners that have been practicing every Sunday since January in our Gold FH Program [West Milford field hockey graduates that coach the players]. In addition, the girls came into the preseason ready to go and their conditioning is the best I have ever seen as a whole. This year the teams to beat in our division are Ramsey and Pompton Lakes. In our county it will be Lakeland and Pompton Lakes.”