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Avery Alleva joined Paul VI’s field hockey team this year with more experience than most freshmen — and also more than some of her older teammates. Like many strong players in the D.C. area, the goalkeeper plays for a travel team and has competed in events with USA Field Hockey.

But Paul VI is not a typical destination for players of Alleva’s caliber.

The field hockey program was founded in 2017 as a club sport, and its four current seniors — Anna Viglione (Arizona State lacrosse commit), Izzy Banks, Fran Cristofari and Camilla Madonna (Lehigh lacrosse commit) — will be the first four-year varsity players in program history.

“It’s such a welcoming community,” Alleva said. “It doesn’t matter, the backgrounds of other sports that other kids on the team play. We all have fun together and work toward a goal together.”

In 2017, 10 Paul VI students were holding club field hockey practices in a backyard. Rich Hayden, the Panthers’ girls’ lacrosse coach, told the athletic director about the situation, and despite having no field hockey experience, Hayden took over the program.

After a 2-7 inaugural season, Hayden has seen more girls try out every year. He was named Washington Catholic Athletic Conference coach of the year in 2019. Now the Panthers have completed an 8-5 regular season and will likely qualify for the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament for the second straight year.

Alleva, the first true goalkeeper Paul VI has had, has played a large role in the Panthers’ success this year, making 82 saves in the regular season. The Panthers beat Bishop O’Connell, 6-0, in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference quarterfinals on Tuesday.

For Potomac School Coach Marcelo Valencia, the first indications his boys’ soccer team might be made of championship material came in a crushing loss. In mid-September, the Panthers played a strong game against Sidwell Friends, only to lose, 1-0, on an unfortunate own goal.

Despite the result, Valencia was happy with how his team played and knew it would learn from the loss. Three weeks later, the Panthers had a chance to show just how much they had learned when they got a rematch with the Quakers. Despite being down 2-0 late, Potomac came back for a 3-2 win.

“Earlier in the season, we might have panicked and lost our composure,” Valencia said. “But the learning experiences early in the year played a big part in our season.”

Now, two weeks after that comeback, the Panthers are the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference’s regular season champion and the top seed in the conference tournament. The regular season title came down to the team’s final game of the season against Maret. The Frogs, last year’s champs, needed just a tie to bring home the title, but the Potomac earned a 3-1 win at home to jump into the top spot.

At this point in a successful season, Valencia is hoping to avoid the pressures of postseason play by emphasizing the team’s familiarity with its opponents.

“For us it’s really about having the kids enjoy it,” the coach said. “Everything has already been talked about because we’ve seen each opponent twice. They know how we play, we know how they play.”

After losing in last year’s Maryland 4A final, the Broadneck girls’ soccer team faced a void in its attacking line.

Forward Eva Mowery, who had 24 goals and 15 assists last season, graduated to play at the University of Maryland. The Bruins (12-0-4) have leaned on their defense this season for narrow victories and draws. As the postseason begins, however, Broadneck’s offense is finding its rhythm.

On Oct. 24, the Bruins beat Chesapeake, 3-1, to win the Anne Arundel County championship at Northeast High in Pasadena. On Saturday afternoon, they opened the state playoffs with a 2-0 win over North Point in Annapolis.

“We’re playing our best soccer now,” Coach John Camm said. “We’ve had some bad luck in front of the goal, but I think that’s starting to come together right now.”

Broadneck’s one-goal championship loss to Whitman was its lone defeat last season. The Bruins shifted their identity this fall to build a strong résumé that includes a win over Mercy, the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A conference front-runner.

Broadneck’s offense is complementing its defense now, getting goals from top returning scorer Sadie Wilkinson the past two games.

“The margins weren’t as big for a combination of things — just not creating as many chances; not being quite as clinical as we need to be in front of the goal,” Camm said. “But that comes with games and experience, and we’re starting to get that now.”

Growing up, Patrice Arrington always wanted to be just like her older sister, Perette. When Perette became Jackson-Reed’s volleyball coach, it was only natural for Patrice to take on the assistant role once retiring from professional volleyball. After 13 years coaching together, Patrice made the hard decision to part from her sister and lead Flint Hill last year.

On Wednesday, Patrice and her Huskies traveled to D.C. to take on the Tigers.

“It’s my big sister and she knows so much more than me,” Patrice said. “I often feel like she might out-coach me sometimes.”

Patrice got the upper hand this time, as her Huskies handled the Tigers in three sets to continue their undefeated season. The sisters celebrated together later in the week with a dinner at their favorite spot, Cactus Cantina.

The two weren’t always close growing up, but bonded when Perette recruited her middle school-aged sister to be her practice partner. The two are now “inseparable,” Patrice said; they live across the street from each other, have the same friend group and of course trade coaching tips and advice.

During Wednesday night’s matchup, the sisters made eye contact each time there was a good play and laughed to each other when something went awry for either team.

“When we coached together it was like we were one brain,” Patrice said. “Now it’s like coaching one team on opposite sides of the net.”

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