MONUMENT - Going into this season, Palmer Ridge field hockey coach Paul Lewis wasn’t sure what to expect from his team. The loss of 15 seniors from last year’s state semifinals squad was reason to think that the Bears would be in a rebuilding mode.
It appears that they rebuilt the program rather quickly.
On Sept. 29, the Bears - a combined District 38 and 20 team - improved to 9-1 with a convincing 7-1 victory over Poudre School District from Fort Collins in a Southern League game played at the Palmer Ridge turf field.
“We’ve already exceeded my expectations,” said Bears senior midfielder Casey Deeds, who had a goal and two assists in the victory. “We’re getting better all the time. I can’t wait to see what we’ll be like at the end of the season.”
Deeds, who has committed to UC-Davis, led the Bears in scoring in 2011 with seven goals and nine assists. She is proving to be just as valuable this season, scoring eight goals and a team-leading 14 assists.
Forward Jessica Berg is the beneficiary of Deeds’ crisp passes. The Air Academy junior scored a goal against Fort Collins to up her total to a team-leading 14.
“I have to give a lot of the credit to Casey,” Berg said. “We work really together. She seems to find me.”
The Bears are balanced on both sides of the ball. Seven different players scored against Poudre School District, including senior defender Haley Chytka, juniors Brianna Knop, Daelynn Demello and Sarah Benton, and sophomore Ashley Walker.
“We all click,” Walker said. “We definitely have the skill and we have a great chemistry.”
Chytka, a four-year starter, believes the team’s stronger offense has had a positive effect on the defense.
“When we’re playing the tough teams it’s a lot less stressful knowing we don’t have to shut them out,” she said. “I’m very confident we’ll do well in the playoffs.”
The Bears have allowed just seven goals. Palmer Ridge’s only loss is to St. Mary’s Academy - 1-0 in overtime - in a non-league match on Sept. 15, outshooting St. Mary’s 20-2.