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P.O. Female Athlete of the Week: Ari Burke

When Ari Burke was getting ready for her first year in high school, she decided to go out for the field hockey team on a whim.

Her friend, Rachel Dusman, and Dusman's mom convinced Burke to try out for the team at a travel softball banquet.

"I just fell in love with it," said Burke, a goalie. "I love how I get to see the entire field, unlike most people. I have a loud enough voice that I can project myself up the field, and I always felt that I'd like that leadership position."

Now getting ready to end her senior season with the Trojans, Burke is the starting goalie and the Public Opinion Female Athlete of the Week.

She posted a pair of shutouts this week, totaling 13 saves in two games. One of her victories was an overtime win over Central Dauphin, a team Chambersburg hadn't beaten since 2009, and another was over Cumberland Valley, a team the Trojans hadn't beaten since 2008.

"We really missed her at CV the first time around," Trojan coach Jen Amsley said. "She had the flu, and the biggest difference in the Cumberland Valley game was her."

The Eagles managed only four shots in the loss, but Central Dauphin was a different story. The Rams put on a barrage of shots on a plethora of corner kicks, and Burke finished with nine saves.

"It was very intense for me," Burke said. "Some of the pressure was taken off me, though, because we had one of our best defenders (Kaylea Garman) back from an injury, and it felt good to have her support. Sometimes we have issues marking in the circle, but that game, if I would say if a player was open, the defense would mark her immediately."

Despite the game going into a nail-biting overtime, Burke kept her cool, and the Trojans collected a 1-0 victory.

"The mental game isn't as hard for me," Burke said. "I feel our team is always structured enough that we can succeed in overtime."

Burke also has an extra advantage - she's a catcher for her travel softball team, and Amsley says softball catchers typically make good field hockey goalies.

"She has picked it up really quick; she was just a natural," Amsley said. "It's just the way the two positions move. They can move laterally and are good on their feet."

Burke said, "I think playing catcher and field hockey goalie together make my hand-eye coordination and agility a lot better. I know a lot of catchers are goalies and vice versa."

Ari Burke, Chambersburg

Sport: Field hockey

Position: Goalie

Grade: Junior

Parent: Tara Stepler

Other interests: Ari also plays basketball and travel softball. She also likes to stay involved in school, and her favorite books are Harry Potter.

Surprising fact: When she was younger, Burke did competitive cheerleading, and her team placed third at nationals.

Favorite team: Pittsburgh Steelers.

Athlete most admired: Her grandfather, Bill Logsdon III, who played football at Chambersburg. Burke said, "His athleticism inspired me to start playing sports." 

Statistics: Burke posted a pair of shutouts that have put the Trojans back in the playoff race ... She had nine saves in a 1-0 overtime win over Central Dauphin and recorded four stops against Cumberland Valley ... The win over CD was the Trojans' first against the Rams in seven years, and they hadn't beaten CV in eight years.