The Suburban One League's decision to move its girls' soccer season to the fall, the same season as field hockey, didn't appear to make a huge impact on field hockey this fall, but some field hockey coaches are fearing a huge impact two or three years down the line.
This fall, several field hockey teams lost players to soccer because players had to choose between the sports. It appears more gave up field hockey to play soccer than the other way around. And coaches fear that even more in the future will give up field hockey.
"Field hockey is such a technical game and so hard to learn that I feel kids may choose soccer because it's easier to learn to play," said Lucy Gil, who resigned as Wissahickon field hockey coach last week. Gil lost her goalkeeper from the 2009 season to soccer.
"I understand that Upper Moreland lost several players to soccer," Gil added.
At Council Rock South, a hotbed of girls' soccer, field hockey coach Lisa DeFeo suffered multiple losses this season.
"It really hurt us," DeFeo said.
Council Rock North field hockey coach Heather Whalin didn't see a big impact this season, but she believes it will come.
"I think it may take a few years," she said.
Of course, schools in Delaware and Chester Counties have been playing both sports in the fall for years, and so far have no had major shortages of players.
"We'll just have to wait and see," Whalin said.
Top coach, top team. Council Rock North's Heather Whalin is The Inquirer's coach of the year. Mount St. Joseph is the top team, thanks largely to its run in the PIAA playoffs during a season in which a number of top teams stumbled.
The Indians lost two of their first four games, including one to Truman, which won only one game in the Suburban One League National Conference.
North righted itself, won the conference championship for the second straight year, and reached the semifinals of the District 1 Class AAA playoffs before falling to eventual champion Wissahickon, 1-0.
As the surprise No. 4 team out of District 1, the Indians reached the quarterfinals of the state playoffs for the first time in three years.
When Class AAA teams such as Wissahickon, Central Bucks South, and Owen J. Roberts faltered, Mount St. Joseph took up the district gauntlet and carried it to the PIAA semifinals. The Magic lost to Cocalico.
The Magic finished the season 18-4-1 and tops in The Inquirer's rankings for Southeastern Pennsylvania.