Every day from this point forward is precious. Every practice is a little reminder they’re still together. Every game is an exercise in Darwinism, survival of the fittest. Eat or be eaten. Win or go home. It’s playoff time and the Cor Jesu Academy field hockey team has no interest in going its separate ways. Yesterday was the first round of the Midwest Field Hockey tournament. It’s a pretty good bet that the Chargers, 16-2, are among the half of the field that advanced to the second round scheduled for Saturday.
Cor Jesu has spent the fall season dominating its schedule. It’s won 14 matches in a row, with its only losses coming to Villa Duchesne and St. Ursula Academy (Cincinnati). Last Thursday, the Chargers went to John Burroughs School, the defending champion, and slapped the Bombers with a 3-0 loss.
Among the many reasons Cor Jesu has been so dominant this fall and on Thursday is senior forward and captain Molly Croghan. Croghan has scored 13 goals. That number, 13, is significant. You see, Croghan is second on the team in goals this season. Leading the way is Elizabeth Horak with 15. Three other Chargers have scored at least seven goals. That’s light years ahead of last year’s Cor Jesu team when Olivia Simon led the way with 10 goals.
What riddle did the Chargers solve? What magic answer did they pluck from the heavens to aid their scoring woes? How do you go from scoring 44 goals one season to throwing in 68 goals the next, with a few games left to play?
“I wish I could tell you the magic answer,” the 5-foot-9 Croghan says with a laugh. “It clicked! It’s been on of the things we focused on.”
The combination of Croghan, Horak, senior captain and winger Jenn Miller and freshman Katherine Tarlas is a danger to scoreboards, and goalies, everywhere.
“Our forward line has really meshed,” Croghan, 17, says. “Offensively everyone has really been on.”
Scoring is only part of what Cor Jesu does well. Defense is a point of emphasis too. The Chargers are the first local team in two seasons to hold the Bombers scoreless. Cor Jesu coach Liz Fox makes sure everyone on the team understands defense starts at the front with the forwards and works its way back to the goalie. Everyone shares that responsibility. “Oh yeah,” Croghan says. “That’s been a big thing I and the forward line have worked on. We’re not just playing defense but we’re playing smart defense. It’s harder but it’s worth it.”
Croghan and the Chargers, more than likely, have a playoff game ahead of them tomorrow. It will be another day when they lineup, play together and do what they can to earn another day or two of practice and another game. It’s like that this time of year, and Croghan understands. She knows, at some point, this ride she’s been on during her high school career is going to come to an end and she and her teammates won’t be together. But that doesn’t mean she won’t give everything she’s got to see it survive— if only for one more day. “We’ve all become great friends,” she says. “It’s almost like we’re fighting to keep the team together.”