WOODBINE — Mackenzie Feltz said she wasn’t sure what to expect when Century High School’s field hockey practice began five weeks ago.
The Knights entered a fall season, shortened because of the COVID-19 pandemic, looking to replace nearly all of their starting lineup from a year ago. Graduated were first-team all-county goalie Claire Hollinger and first-team defender Kaitlyn Huber, along with a few other major contributors and talented players from the 2019 roster. Throw in the uncertainty of a full schedule amid the pandemic, and having to practice on non-grass surfaces because of inclement February weather, and Feltz and her teammates were venturing into the unknown as they prepared for a slate of games at Western Regional Park.
Something clicked from the beginning, and the wins have been piling up. Century’s latest came Monday in a 7-1 victory over Winters Mill, in which Feltz tallied three goals and teammate Kylie Opatovsky added two goals and an assist.
“I feel like all the girls have a good connection,” said Opatovsky, a senior forward. “We’re friends outside of field hockey, and it’s a big family.”
Feltz, the third of Century’s first-team all-county selections last season, led Carroll County in scoring coming into Monday’s contest with 11 points (four goals, three assists). She’s pacing a Knights offense that averages 4 goals per game. They improved to 4-1 with Monday’s win, with the only loss coming against reigning Class 1A state champion Liberty.
Meanwhile, Century’s defense has two shutouts and almost added a third Monday. Allie Williams gave Winters Mill (0-3) its goal late in the third quarter, with an assist from fellow senior Haley Wise during a penalty-corner play. The Falcons’ fall started late because of coronavirus issues within the program, and coach Christine Bradley’s roster features four freshmen and four sophomores.
One of the sophomores, Keile Peterman, gave Winters Mill a boost in the midfield and on defense. But the Falcons couldn’t generate enough scoring chances matched up against Century’s defense — seniors Hannah Sobchak and Olivia Sobchak, and junior Paige Duborow are the starters, coach Terry Duryea said.
The Sobchak twins are two of Century’s captains, with Feltz and Opatovsky sharing duties.
Feltz said getting to practice on the tennis courts at school turned into a positive because it closely resembled an artificial turf field. Western Regional Park has two such surfaces for all of Carroll’s teams to use this season.
“I thought it would be sort of a rebuilding year,” Feltz said, “but we’re doing really good so far.”
Century collected 10 penalty corner chances and converted two of them. Danielle DeLawter, a junior midfielder along with Feltz, had a goal and an assist in the win.
Duryea said one of her missions is to give minutes to as many players as possible with a look toward the next fall season, which will likely start in September and have a more traditional feel. The Knights are thankful to be playing, the coach said, and they’re taking this abbreviated run in stride.
“Our first week we played FSK, we played strong teams, South Carroll and Liberty,” Feltz said. “And I think right there ... we worked together really well.”