Honesdale field hockey team remains undefeated
Article Courtesy of Kevin Edwards
Wednesday afternoon, two of the region’s top field hockey teams squared off in a much-anticipated match that will have huge implications for this year’s District 2 tournament.
Hundreds of fans gathered at the Daniel J. O’Neill Sports Complex to witness a Wyoming Valley Conference showdown between Honesdale and Lake Lehman.
Both teams arrived on the scene with undefeated records and were deadlocked atop the Division I standings.
“Lake Lehman is a team we look forward to playing each year,” said All-Star forward Claire Campen. “We call them our twin because we have so much in common. So, coming into this game our coaches had us mentally prepared for a battle.”
Not surprisingly, a battle is exactly what transpired. The Lady Hornets and Knights slugged it out through regulation and into overtime before a victor finally emerged.
Lily Murray hammered home the game winner less than three minutes into sudden death, giving Honesdale an electrifying 3-2 decision and setting off a wild celebration.
“I can count on one hand how many times we've beaten Lehman in my 20 years here,” said an elated Head Coach Becca Maciejewski. “But, our girls are strong and very athletic. They’re in prime condition to win big games like this one.”
With this win, Honesdale improved its record to 9-0-0 for the first time in program history. The Lady Hornets are currently rated number one among all Class AAA schools with a power ranking of .781242.
Claire in the daughter of Bob and Carrie Campen. She’s been playing field hockey since the fourth grade.
A multi-sport standout who also excels on the basketball court, Campen is a junior and team captain. Claire plays club hockey during the off-season with the NEPA Force and Pursuit as well.
Campen is a naturally gifted athlete, but she also possesses a tireless work ethic. She’s a fierce competitor and passionate in her love of the game.
“My absolute favorite part about this sport is that you’re never the best,” Claire said. “There’s always some aspect of the game to improve on. Field hockey is so unpredictable that you can never train enough … which keeps it interesting and motivating.”
Through the first nine games of the 2022 campaign, Campen tops Honesdale in just about every major statistical category. She’s also among the league leaders in goals (14) and assists (7).
Campen has an encyclopedic knowledge of the game. Claire sees the field well and understands each player’s role. She plays the majority of her minutes up front, but can also dominate in the midfield or on the outside.
“One of Claire’s best attributes is that she’s a leader on the field,” Coach Maciejewski said. “She holds others accountable for their play. Claire’s effort inspires them to elevate their game as well. She’s just an uber-talented field hockey player, downright unstoppable at times.”
For her part, Campen believes that the key to being an effective leader is being a good teammate. She works hard to set a positive example in practice, during games, in the classroom and in the community.
“One thing I feel I’m doing well is just communicating all-around with my teammates,” she said. “I want to make sure sure they know I have their back.”
Honesdale has enjoyed its fair share of success in the past, having won the District 2 Class AAA championship just three years ago. However, the Lady Hornets have never been known as a high-scoring, high octane offensive squad.
This season, though, Campen has made it her mission to change that perception … and the numbers so far are impressive. With nine games in the books, the Red & Black have outscored the opposition by an astounding 39-9 margin.
Campen and her teammates were 100 percent dialed-in for Wednesday’s clash with perennial powerhouse Lake Lehman.
Honesdale dominated the first two periods of action, keeping the Knights back on their heels and buried deep in their own end. To their immense credit, though, the visitors staved off every attack and the game remained 0-0.
The Lady Hornets finally broke through midway through the third when Lily Murray scored off a Campen assist to make it 1-0. However, that goal seemed to awaken the Knights’ offense as they retaliated with two quick tallies of their own within five minutes.
Coach Maciejewski wisely called timeout to re-group and make a couple of crucial tactical moves. Makayla Cobourn, Roz Maciejewski and Miranda Roegner were all asked to step outside their comfort zone and each responded brilliantly.
The end results were tying the game in regulation and winning it in overtime.
Campen stepped up first. Claire intercepted a Lake Lehman pass just inside the midfield stripe. She rocketed toward the cage leaving a trail of defenders sprawled helplessly in her wake, then blasted a shot past Knights keeper Faye Post.
Her goal with less than three minutes to go in the match tied the score at 2-2 and reinvigorated her team.
“We’ve always struggled with finishing in the circle, but I made it my goal to be better at that this year,” Claire said. “I feel I have definitely improved and I’m able to help get my team those clutch goals.”
Then, just 2:34 into the extra session, it was Roz Mikulak’s turn to play the hero. A junior who normally stars on defense, Mikulak has been making her presence felt more and more at the offensive end.
Roz sealed the deal in this one by scoring her fourth goal of the year off a penalty corner. Murray was credited with an assist as Honesdale celebrated a wild 3-2 win.
Keeper Rachael Collins anchored the Lady Hornet defense, making four saves and turning away four corners. Laney Neu, Jillian Hoey, Kara Fries and Alyssa Czekai also turned in stellar performances.
“The strength of this year's team is the respect we have for one another,” Coach Maciejewski said. “We have girls willing to do whatever it takes for the person next to her. When you have chemistry like that, you can do just about anything you set your mind to.”
The Future Looks Bright
While the Lady Hornets will take a moment to enjoy the win over Lake Lehman, their focus will quickly shift to the challenges which lie ahead.
Next up for Honesdale is a Friday afternoon road trip to Berwick, followed by an away game next Wednesday at Wyoming Seminary … just two more steps along the path to what Coach Maciejewski hopes will be a championship season.
“We want district gold and a state playoff spot,” she said emphatically. “No question. We are after it.”
“I have high expectations,” Claire said. “My goal is to get back to the district finals and finish on top this year. Honesdale field hockey has made a name for itself the past couple years. We have a target on our back, but getting gold around our neck would be the best thing to continue this success.”
As for her future plans, Campen has already verbally committed to attend Division I Monmouth University. She hopes to pursue a degree in Secondary Education and perhaps return to her alma mater one day.
“I am beyond excited to continue my career at Monmouth,” Claire said. “I’m looking forward to a different aspect of the hockey world, and playing against the best of the best.
“I think about it daily. I don’t want to wish away what I have now, but it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to and something that continually motivates me.”
In the meantime, Campen is grateful to her family, friends, coaches and teammates for being such a positive influence in her life.
“No one has supported me more than my parents and family,” Claire said. “I’m so grateful for my parents’ flexibility and making anything I can dream of hockey-wise come true.
“Along with the immense amount of support from my nanny, my aunts, uncles, and cousins who always remind me of how proud they are of me.”