The Parkway West field hockey team has played five years in the Gateway Classic and now has its first title.
The Longhorns went 2-0-1 to win Pool L in the 22nd annual Gateway Classic played at the SportPort Athletic Complex.
Coach Dawn Callahan was happy for her girls.
“We have come close a couple of times but this year is the first year we have one our pool,” Callahan said. “I think the Classic is a great way to open up the season, as a coach it allows you to play with the lineup and it gives the players some time to play together in a festival-like atmosphere before the regular season gets underway. It also gives our team a chance to play out-of-town teams without leaving St. Louis.”
The Longhorns have a veteran squad this season, and Callahan was ready to see how it would perform in the tournament after preseason practices.
“Going in, I felt the team had a pretty good shot of winning their pool this year,” Callahan said. “We only graduated one senior last year, and this year, we have a strong core 10 seniors.”
Parkway West played Notre Dame de Sion to a 1-1 tie in the opener. Senior forward Lexy Bolin scored the lone Longhorns’ goal.
“We scored late in the game, I believe we had 5 minutes left,” Callahan said. “Annie Zahoran got a rebound shot, and Lexy dove to knock the ball across the line.”
Because of rain, the game was pushed back a day with a 6:40 a.m. starting time.
“We started off a little slow,” Callahan said. “I don’t think we were quite awake for the game. Notre Dame was very aggressive and physical. I think that surprised us a bit and put us on our heels for the first half.”
In its second game, Parkway West beat Lutheran South 5-1. Senior forward Callie Hummel scored two goals and added an assist to lead offensively.
“In this game, we started to play the way I expected to see this team play this season,” Callahan said. “We were moving the ball better, being more aggressive with 50/50 balls and converting on our penalty corners. And we were using our speed to create opportunities.”
In their final game, the Longhorns played Homewood-Flossmoor [Illinois] one hour after the Lutheran South game. It was Parkway West’s third game of the day.
“Our South and Homewood games ended up being in the heat of the day so I was a bit concerned that we would fade … but the team dug deep and got the two wins we needed,” Callahan said.
Parkway West scored a 4-1 win over Homewood-Flossmoor. Hummel led the way, scoring a hat trick.
“She played great in this tournament and did a great job converting on penalty corners and using her speed to create scoring opportunities for us,” Callahan said.
The win gave the Longhorns the pool championship.
“They were pretty excited and jumping around with big smiles,” Callahan said. “It’s a nice reward for all the hard work and dedication the young ladies put in, not only this year but in past seasons.”
The Longhorns went 10-10 last year. Their goals this season include starting the season strong. Callahan also wants her team playing as a unit, both offensively and defensively.
“I’m proud of the way we have started the season,” Callahan said. “Last year we started out slow and it took us a while to get going. The girls made it their goal to come into the season in shape and focused on a strong start. So far, they have accomplished that goal. Now, we need to continue playing strong hockey for 60 minutes because we have a tough schedule this season but I feel this team is up for the challenge.
“This is a great group of young ladies and I’m excited to see what they can achieve this season.”