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FALL SPORTS PREVIEW '97

Kennedy Considers the Goal Her Domain

Field hockey: Newport Harbor senior plays same position in two sports, and knows communication with her teammates is paramount.

September 16, 1997|MELANIE NEFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NEWPORT BEACH — Newport Harbor's Erin Kennedy could be your typical multisport high school athlete, except for a couple things.

Kennedy plays field hockey and water polo. And she's the Sailors' starting goalkeeper in both.

Despite the differences in the sports, Kennedy says she uses one to help improve her skills in the other.

"The angles and the object of the games is the same," she said. "Communication with the rest of the team is real important. The more I talk, the more I help the team."

Kennedy's favorite of the two is field hockey, which begins league play this week. She likes the physical contact. If she played football, she would probably be a linebacker.

"I love charging out of the goal," said Kennedy, who is 5 feet 7 and 117 pounds. "Offensive players will crash into me by accident and turn around and ask if I'm OK. What they forget is that I'm covered in pads and I want to ask if they are OK. I love it. That is the fun part of the game."

Kennedy, a senior who turns 17 this week, began playing field hockey the summer before her freshman year. Her mother and two of her aunts played in high school, so Kennedy thought she would give it a try. And she has been in goal ever since.

When Newport Harbor put together a girls' water polo team her sophomore year, Kennedy, who also is a member of the Sailors' swim team, jumped at the chance to play. Her two older brothers, Sean and Ryan, played at Newport Harbor.

"I always wanted to play," Kennedy said. "I thought it would fun. I wanted to be goalie, but I had to wait and see. My teammates voted and put me in the goal, so it was great."

From a goalie's point of view, Kennedy believes field hockey is the harder of the two sports. The ball is smaller and her padding can get in the way of her vision, and she finds it harder to communicate with her field hockey teammates than with her cohorts in the pool.

"The distance between myself and the players is a lot farther on the field," she said. "In the pool the sound travels, so it is easier to communicate."

The two sports keep Kennedy busy throughout the year. Both have summer programs, and while field hockey's season is in the fall, Kennedy also begins practicing in the fall for water polo, which is played in the winter but also has a spring league.

Kennedy says water polo is the game that gets her adrenalin pumping and she would like to continue playing it in college, hoping to earn a scholarship with her goalkeeping talents.

She has a 3.8 grade-point average as a member of the da Vinci program, an accelerated math and science curriculum at Newport Harbor, and wants to study art or film production in college.

Kennedy had a chance to show her skills in field hockey last Thursday in a scrimmage against league favorite Edison. The Chargers won, 1-0, and Kennedy said she had a chance at stopping the shot, but lost it under her padding.

"It was the best we've ever played against Edison," Kennedy said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

GIRLS FIELD HOCKEY

Players to Watch

* Jennifer Archuleta, Edison, Forward, Sr.

* Tanya Carter, Westminster, Goalkeeper, Sr.

* Erin Kennedy, Newport Harbor, Goalkeeper, Sr.

* Kyle McNichols, Newport Harbor, Center, Sr.

* Toni Mora, Marina, Forward, Sr.

* Amber Puskas, Santiago, Forward, Sr.

* Andrea Wiles, Edison, Forward, Jr.

Key Dates

Thursday, Edison at Santiago; Oct. 7, Marina at Edison; Oct. 14, Santiago at Marina; Nov. 8, finals of the Tournament of Champions.

Notes

With only 10 Southern California high schools participating, the Sunset League--divided into north and south divisions--is the lone league. . . . Eight of the 10 teams are from the county. . . .There is not a Southern Section-sanctioned playoff or title game, so teams participate in the Tournament of Champions, Nov. 4-8. . . . Defending champion Santiago will miss Coach Kit Snider, who retired after 21 years of coaching. . . . Edison is the favorite under Debbie Ortega, who has been the Chargers' coach for 12 seasons, but Santiago, Marina and Fountain Valley could give Edison a battle. Huntington Beach and Newport Harbor have improved over the past few seasons and could also surprise a few teams.

GIRLS FIELD HOCKEY

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