North County Field Hockey Enjoying Bounce Back Season


After suffering through years of uncertainty, North County's field hockey program seems to have found some stability.

When head coach Carly Tacka took over for the Knights last season, she was the program's fourth head coach in four years. The team hadn't enjoyed much success as a result, having to constantly adjust to new playing styles and protocols each year.

With Tacka staying on for her second year, the Knights are enjoying their best start to a season in quite some time. North County is 6-1 this season, already eclipsing its win total from last year when the team managed just four wins.

"I am so proud of the way they have played thus far," Tacka said. "This is the best record North County has had in years and it is because they are playing like a team and working together for their wins. We've beaten teams this year that we don't normally win against."

In particular, North County has excelled against Howard County opponents. The Knights are 4-0 against those teams, including wins over Long Reach and Hammond.

North County's marquee win came on Sept. 22 against Anne Arundel County rival Northeast. At that time, the Knights had lost their lone contest against a county opponent, Annapolis. The game also represented a chance for the Knights to see just how much they had improved- Northeast had beaten North County 2-0 in 2015.

"We started the game extremely slow, but the girls got their heads in the game and came to play in the second half," Tacka said.

North County would go on to win 2-1 in overtime.

In terms of personnel, North County is aided by losing just one starter from last year. In the center of the midfield is senior Kayla Patti, who Tacka referred to as the team's heartbeat. A true asset in defense, Patti is also capable of hurting opponents on the offensive end, where her excellent field sense helps her make an impact.

Patti's play has been aided by the emergence of freshman defensive midfielder Britney Castle. Castle has been a revelation for North County, with her defensive expertise allowing Patti to push forward and get involved in the attack more frequently.

Fellow senior Caroline Noyola is having a strong season for the Knights at the center back position. Tasked with organizing the defense, Noyola has answered the call and been an essential part of the team's success.

The team's offense has been sparked by junior center forward Mary-Kate Alt. She leads the team in goals and Tacka praised her for her ability to be in the right place at the right time, as well as her ability to lead the forward line.

The talent in the team has Tacka thinking a playoff push is possible this season. The Knights haven't won a playoff game for quite some time, but with the team's confidence as high as it is presently, North County could be in for as strong a second half as its first half.

"They are playing much more like a team this season," Tacka said. "In the past, North County has had teams of talented individual players. This season, we have a team of talented team players."
October 3rd, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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