In a tough division like the Mid Penn Commonwealth, it's difficult for a team like Chambersburg to find its own identity. Especially after coming in next-to-last in the division in 2015.
But in 2016, the Trojans are determined to prove the doubters wrong, and with virtually every starter back, the team has a chance to turn some heads.
Last season's P.O. Player of the Year, Liza Ernst, who scored team-high nine goals and eight assists, returns alongside the team captains, Rachel Dusman (6 goals, 11 assists), Madison Schmus (3, 3) and junior captain Kaylea Garman (7, 1). Chambersburg lost just one player, who was a non-starter, to graduation.
Chambersburg coach Jen Amsley said the job of her four captains will be crucial, as the team's success relies heavily on how it works together on the field. And it all starts with leadership.
"I expect a lot of good things from them," Amsley said. "I think we should do pretty well, but I think it depends on how well they do together as a team."
Garman said, "I think the team is looking really good coming off last season with a high intensity at the end, and us working together over the summer and as a team. I'm expecting a lot of great teamwork."
The Trojans have a healthy number of upperclassmen, with 12 of the 14 varsity players being juniors and seniors.
"I think the juniors and seniors have really nice stick skills," Amsley said. "And they know the game. I don't have to do as much teaching. They just really understand the game, and the leadership out there will be crucial."
Chambersburg also returns starting goalie Arianna Burke, who had four shutouts last year. Morgan Mentzer, a junior transfer from Big Spring, joins the Trojans this year. She had four goals and five assists for the Bulldogs in 2015.
Amsley said, "I know they have a little motivation because PennLive chose us to finish last (in the Commonwealth), so that's our motivation. I think we will come out strong. I expect us to be above .500. I would love to win the division, but we have to set realistic measures. Can we? Yeah. Will we? I'm not sure, because it depends on how we come together as a team. I do expect us to be better and I expect there to be a few upsets."
Amsley said Chambersburg's season opener against State College will be a big challenge. State College swept Chambersburg last year, and is projected to be a top team in the Commonwealth.
"Our very first game will be a big one," Amsley said. "They are very good and it will be a really good test for us. And we are hungry."
Sophomore Molly Keefer, who Amsley said started in a majority of games her freshman year, is back and is expected to be very good on the Trojan attack.
Chambersburg field hockey alumni Rachel Sanders and Chelsea Amsley have returned to the field to help coach the 2016 squad. Sanders, a former assistant coach at Dickinson College, has been helping Burke with her technique in the cage.
TROJANS AT A GLANCE
Coach: Jen Amsley, 11th season, 76-86-4 (.476)
Last year: 8-10 (5-9 Mid Penn Commonwealth)
Returning starters: Liza Ernst (sr., mid, 10 goals, 8 assists, P.O. Player of the Year), Rachel Dusman (jr., mid, 6, 11, P.O. 2nd Team), Madison Schmus (sr., def, 3, 3, P.O. 1st Team), Kaylea Garman (sr., mid, 7, 1, P.O. 1st Team), Jordan Amsley (sr., for, 3, 10, P.O. HM), Sydney Kegerreis (jr., def), Jessa Corwell (sr., def), Hannah Raines (jr., mid/def), Molly Keefer (so., for, 5, 1, P.O. HM), Arianna Burke (jr., G, P.O. 2nd Team).
Other top players: Meghan Sharpe (jr., for), Sage Piper (jr., for), Morgan Mentzer (jr., mid), Courtney Kirby (so., mid).
Season opener: Tuesday, at State College, 4