Watch any River Hill field hockey game, and it won't take long to realize who controls the Hawks pace of play. It's not senior Gaby Hamburger, who scores many of the team's goals, or junior Caroline Kral, who is charge of preventing them.
That distinction belongs to Quinn Kindbom, a sophomore midfielder largely responsible for pushing River Hill (5-1 county, 9-3-1 overall) towards the top of the county standings.
"I've said this multiple times. I think Quinn [Kindbom] is the best player I've ever had," said coach Shelly Chamness, who is in her 18th season as the Hawks coach. "When she's on, she can get it past most people."
Kindbom recently sat down with field hockey beat writer Kyle Stackpole to talk about her team's success, its goal to beat Glenelg and more.
Q: How do you think this season has gone compared to the team's expectations entering the year?
A: It's gone pretty well. I feel like what's making us play better against harder teams is we're jelling a lot better than we did last year. I feel like people are stepping up more than they were last year.
Why do you think you think this team is jelling more than in the past?
The defense knows where we are on the field, and Bailey [Schwab] has got our back in the backfield a lot. And for passing, it's a big help because we know where each other are on the field.
Who are some players that have been stepping up?
Maddy Campbell for sure. She's always played great defense, last year too. But this year, I feel like she's been playing super well. She's been cutting off passes and making sure their players don't get into the circle. Emily Rozier has done a good job blocking all the shots that have been taken on goal. And the goalie, Caroline Kral, has been doing a great job at stopping all the shots, too."
River Hill moved up tiers this season. What has the competition been like compared to last season?
Oh wow. It's changed a lot. Last year … there were those kinds of games where it was a little difficult because all you did was kind of score. Now, this year, with the good defenders, and people who are bigger and stronger, it's been so hard to get around them.
Your team also played against the top Anne Arundel county teams. What did you learn from those games?
The Anne Arundel teams were very strong at every position. We just had to make sure we were as well. And to carry it into the postseason, we're more ready with the strong teams and knowing what they can do, so that we can do better.
What has the transformation been like for you from last season to this season?
Last year, it was a little challenging because I wasn't used to the girls I was playing with because it was my first time. So, I was a little afraid to step up and kind of take the ball because I didn't know what they were going to say or do. But this year, I feel a lot more comfortable with the team. All of them are my closest friends, and it just makes it a lot easier to play with them.
It seems like you and senior forward Gaby Hamburger have a good relationship? How did you two foster that bond being two years apart?
We knew each other previously from high school from Stampede Elite. It was like when she was in eighth grade and I was in sixth grade. We kind of met each other there, and then she played on my club team for Stampede for a little bit, so I feel like that's what started it. When I got to River Hill, we just started talking off the field and seeing each other in the hallways and saying hi, and it just started that connection.
Gaby led the county in points last year and seems to be scoring a lot again this season. What do you think makes her so effective around the net?
She always knows the spaces that are open, and she knows that me, Bailey [Schwab]or Lexi[Thielemann] can get it up to her, and she has confidence in us to get it up to her. She'll be up far, and she knows either Bailey or I could get it up to her.
What were the team's goals this season? Have you met those goals thus far?
Going into the season, our goals were beating Glenelg, and what we've been trying to do is condition ourselves because Glenelg is very conditioned. They're just so good at running and being everywhere on the field, so that's what we were trying to be like. When we scrimmaged them, it gave us a better idea of how we can set a goal to beat them because we saw they were cutting to the balls, they were making smart passes and shooting at the top of the circle. We found a way to prevent some of those things and having people that don't really step up step up and cut off balls like they were doing.
What are the team's strengths and weaknesses?
The things that we've been doing well are passing and finding open spaces and finding out where each other are. The weaknesses are our passes sometimes aren't strong enough to get to the player. It's getting cut off, and then they're getting the ball. For Glenelg, we just got to work on strong passes.
What has coach Shelly Chamness been emphasizing to this team?
She wants us to [hit] the ball back to Bailey [Schwab], and have her send it wide. And then have the person whoever's wide — like Miriam [Sheetz] is always wide or Emily Masker — and they transfer it up to the top so they can score. She wants us to bring it back and transfer it.