BOYERTOWN — Haley Wentzel took a pass from Boyertown head coach Pam Wernersbach and labeled it top-shelf, left side.
A ping echoed throughout the confines of the Boyertown campus on an unseasonably cool May afternoon.
"I hit post a lot,' she said, jogging back to her starting point before gathering another pass from Wernersbach and firing it.
Same spot, top-shelf, left side. This time, nothing but twine.
Wentzel's signature shot coupled with the accuracy of a marksman lifted her to new heights in 2014 as the Lehigh commit nearly doubled her scoring from the previous three years, scoring 110 goals while tallying 24 assists, 43 groundballs and 41 draw controls in leading Boyertown to another undefeated slate in the PAC-10 and an unprecedented 11th-straight PAC-10 title, all while garnering the 2014 Mercury All-Area Player of the Year award.
A two-time Mercury All-Area first team selection, Wentzel finished her Boyertown career with 240 goals and becomes the fourth straight Bear player to earn the Player of the Year award (Rachel Engler, 2013; Devyn Heidelbaugh 2012; Kelly Furman 2011).
"It's an honor to receive this award,' Wentzel said. "I couldn't have done it without the people I've been looking up to and the people around me. They are a huge part of it. You almost feel kind of guilty because I couldn't have done it without my team.'
"I think I did good this year,' she continued. "I kind of met my own expectation for this year: to be more of a force on attack and be dominant in the midfield. I think I came through on my own personal goals.'
Wentzel's prowess near the eight-meter mark was debilitating to opposing defenses as the senior midfielder torched her opponents in the PAC-10 Final Four, scoring 12 goals in two wins, capped off by a six-goal performance in Boyertown's 17-6 victory over Phoenixville in the PAC-10 title game. The post stood in the way of a potential four more goals.
"The semifinal game of the PAC-10 Final Four and the championship were moments that definitely stuck out to me,' Wentzel said. "It was a good moment for all of us as a team. It was the first time that we all worked together and saw what we could do. Those two games showed how strong we could be if we came together.'
Wentzel's words on the brisk late-May afternoon echoed her sentiments shortly after claiming the team's 11th straight title back on May 8. It took a full season for Wentzel and the Bears to perform as the well-oiled machine PAC-10 spectators have become accustomed to seeing, and for good reason.
A brutal winter mixed with an ice-cold start to spring limited the Bears to the gym for their early practices. Wentzel and the team crammed inside the gymnasium during late February into March, unable to work on running the length of the field or their transition play. It wasn't until their season opener on March 24, a bitterly cold date with Owen J. Roberts, that the Bears finally hit the turf. Wentzel scored eight goals and the Bears led the charge on another scintillating season.
"They should be really proud of what they did this season,' Wernersbach said. "By the end of the year, second round of districts, we had practiced on our field maybe 10 times. They matured as a team and as a group during games, which speaks volumes to their ability as players and their ability to work as a group.
"Haley stepped out a little bit more of her comfort zone and pushed herself a little bit harder this year,' Wernersbach continued. "Being a leader as a senior, it was easier for her in some respects because her younger sister (Hannah) was with us. But she did her job on the field and she provided an example of her play and was very supportive of all of her teammates.'
Wentzel credits her leadership abilities to former older teammates that helped show her the ropes as well as Wernerbach's system that is predicated on learning your individual role and understanding your expectations. It had been what helped her through her freshman year, where she saw limited playing time in the PIAA playoffs despite leading the team in scoring in the regular season, to her senior year where she had to work around faceguarders in the majority of her games.
"The class above me were huge role models for me. I've been playing with them since BOLT in fifth grade,' Wentzel said. "I was constantly looking up to them. They helped me grow.
"Coach Wernersbach just sets standards for us that we are all expected to meet and its not so much about winning or continuing the streak (of 11 straight PAC-10 titles), it's about doing our best and always putting out our full effort. It just works out. We want to do well for her and well for us.'
For Wentzel, her career will begin anew when she attends Lehigh in the fall, but she'll always take away the teachings of Wernersbach and remember the days where it wasn't bad news to be a Bear.
"I'm going to miss it,' she said. "Even if I'm having an off game or an off moment coach helped me to persevere and come back. She's been a huge support for me.'
"She just has a lot more confidence in her abilities and is not afraid to make mistakes,' Wernersbach said. "She knows that if she messes up one thing, she can correct it by doing something else and getting something positive out of it. Haley will do well moving forward.'
Follow Sam Stewart on Twitter @Samuel_Stewart7