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No. 16 York College field hockey looks to build on strong start

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch
York College field hockey coach Katie Fost high-fives forward Connie Harburda during a game. The Spartans are off to a 7-2 start after Wednesday's 5-0 win over Elizabethtown.

There’s no question that the York College field hockey program is approaching new heights under coach Katie Fost. And the good news is that there still is plenty of room to fly even higher.

In her sixth season with the Spartans, Fost is at the helm of a squad that is doing plenty of remarkable things. With a 5-0 shutout of rival Elizabethtown on Wednesday evening, the Spartans improved to 7-2 overall on the season and 2-0 in the MAC Commonwealth Conference.

Perhaps more impressive than that 7-2 mark, which signaled the midpoint of the school’s 18-game regular season, is that the Spartans have surrendered just three goals in those nine contests.

As evidenced Wednesday, it is truly tough for the opposition to find the net against the York women when the ball is always on the other side of the field. For nearly the entire second half, the Spartans possessed the ball in the attacking zone, peppering the Elizabethtown defense and goalie with a barrage of shots.

Raising the bar: That has been the story throughout the season as the Spartans, who are looking to raise the bar higher for the program, have ascended to the No. 16 ranking nationally at the NCAA Division III level.

“I think the strength of our team this year is our culture and our identity,” Fost said. “We talk about it every single day at practice — who we are and what we want to be known for. We’re really focused on the actions that we take.”

Fost’s team got a bit of a wake-up call last week when Susquehanna rolled into town and claimed a tight 2-1 triumph. Those two goals by the River Hawks, as well as the one tally surrendered in a loss to No. 2-ranked Johns Hopkins back on Sept. 7, are the only instances so far this season in which an opponent has found the net.

Eyeing an NCAA berth: Clearly, if that dominance stands up throughout the remainder of the season, the Spartans will approach a lofty goal that has eluded Fost and her program since she took over — an NCAA playoff berth.

“We strive to get to the goal that we have for this program,” Fost said of an extended postseason run. “And we want that to be our identity every single day.”

Like Fost, senior midfielder Mya Gerena is hoping to cap off her career with the trip to the NCAA Tournament. A graduate of Conrad Weiser High School in Berks County, Gerena played a little coy when asked if this is the best York College team with which she has played.

“Um,” Gerena said before she smiled a little, “one of the top ones. Just because we have a ton of girls with a lot of different skills that are just able to go out and perform.”

When it was mentioned that neither she nor Fost has played or coached in an NCAA Tournament contest, Gerena was quick to answer if that was one of the team’s lofty goals.

“Oh, yeah, for sure,” she said. “We are all confident in each other and we work really, really hard each and every day, and I think that culture really builds up our team.”

Gerena also mentioned a big key to the success so far for this year’s squad is the amount of energy that the Spartans bring to everything — early-morning practices, mid-day weightlifting, afternoon practices and, ultimately, the games.

“If we bring our energy and we remind ourselves that we got this, that’s what pushes us throughout,” Gerena said. “It’s just ‘keep going’ and ‘keep fighting’ and hopefully we put goals into the back of the net.”