Roland Park's field hockey team got off to a fast start in back-to-back Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland games. The Reds jumped out to a 1-0 lead on both Maryvale and Severn, but they didn't sustain those starts and ended up losing both games.
"We tend to start games with a lot of energy, then we just kind of relax," Roland Park senior defender Mellie Poggi said. "At the end of games, we pick it up and play really good hockey. But during the middle of games, we tend to struggle."
With five IAAM A Conference games remaining in the regular season before the playoffs start in late October, Roland Park coach Cindy Tindall said her Reds need to work on a consistent effort throughout.
She said the Reds started doing that in a 3-2 loss to St. Mary's and 1-1 tie with Bryn Mawr.
"We have to learn the game is 60 minutes and not a minute shorter," said Tindall, whose team is 3-4-2. "If we want to win those games, we have to play as a team for 60 minutes and if it goes into overtime, more than that."
Tindall said the Reds, who have a senior-laden starting lineup, will have to start doing that on Friday when they play McDonogh in Roland Park.
McDonogh is ranked No. 1 in the area in the Baltimore Sun's high school field hockey poll.
"That's going to be very physical game," Tindall said. "McDonogh has always has athletic girls. It's going to be one of those scrappy whoever wants it more for 60 minutes. But I think we have a really good chance."
Roland Park had it toughest game of the season against defending league champion Archbishop Spalding, losing 4-0.
"The score didn't reflect how well we played," Tindall said. "For 51 minutes, it was 1-0. Then we had a little bit of a letdown for nine minutes. That's where the scoring happened. But overall, I was proud of their effort. We held them really well for the majority of the game. They are a very deep team."
Roland Park returned nine of 11 starters from last year's team, including senior midfielders Mary Diffender, Landon Warren, Megan Lynch and Meredith Kuser, junior goalie Nora Feinberg, senior defenders Emily Roebuck and Andrea Fraiman and seniors forwards Andi Weinberg and Abbey Rosewell.
"We have a stronger and more experienced core of girls than have been on the varsity and they have gotten more significant playing time than in the past," Tindall said. "We have a really good group that has been starting on the varsity for three years. It's given them a lot of time to develop with each other."
Roland Park's strength is its defense spearheaded by Roebuck, an all-conference selection last year. Tindall said she expects Roebuck to play college field hockey; she has already visited Davidson and Dartmouth.
"I think we have a great defensive unit," Tindall said. "It's playing really well right now. They are patient and good communicators. They stay calm, but have a sense of urgency. They are not afraid to organize the entire team."
"We are closer than we were last year, which has helped us on the field," she said. "We didn't completely mesh. We mainly have seniors on the team who start. All the seniors are really dedicated and contribute a lot to the team. That has helped with the freshmen and sophomores, who are looking up to us."