Just one glance at their stellar overall record of 12-2 through the first week and a half of October proves just how well the Vernon High School field hockey program is competing this season.
It’s important to remember that their success stems from the coaches as well as the student athletes on the roster and that most certainly includes team captains seniors - Haley Debonta and Carlie Van Tassel.
“Both of them were selected as captains by all the girls in the program,’’ Vernon head coach Kieran Killeen said. “Both Carlie and Haley have been varsity starters since their freshman year and lead the program by example both on and off the field. Their incredible ability on the field as well at their passion for the wellbeing of their teammates have played an important role in our success this year.
“They have always had the skill, but this year they have really grown in confidence and their ability to lead the team. [Both of them are members of the] New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) All Academic Team.’’
Van Tassel joined her middle school field hockey team as an eighth grader.
“I had played ice hockey since I was seven so field hockey seemed like it was closely related, I gave it a try and ended up loving it,’’ Van Tassel said. “I think my stick skills have improved over the course of high school. I’m naturally competitive so I always push myself to work harder. [I’d like to improve my] speed and conditioning, learning new dodges along with improving my stick skills.
“My parents, my grandparents, my friends and teammates [are the positive influences on my field hockey career].’’
Debonta began playing the sport competitively in eighth grade.
“Honestly I was never really attracted to the sport, I hated it for the longest time,’’ Debonta said. “I think I have a natural ability to read the field and set up successful plays for my teammates and I. My goal this season is to lead my team to glorious victory. We have the skills and the heart to do it but we lack belief in ourselves. I think it is mine and Carlie's job as captains to make our girls believe in their abilities. Conference champs [is a main goal]. We’re more than capable of achieving this.
“A hundred percent Coach K [is a positive influence]. I could never thank him enough for the priceless techniques he has taught me or the invaluable life lessons. I would not be the person I am today without him.’’
The Vikings are scheduled to travel to face Lenape Valley on October 22.