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Whitfield field hockey dedicates season to coach’s mom

Whitfield is the Gateway Classic Pool K champion.

The Whitfield field hockey team is off to a good start this fall in a season that’s particularly important.

The Warriors are playing for coach Maggie Young’s mother, Kathleen Durbin, who is waging a huge fight against cancer.

“On May 31, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that broke off and spread to the brain,” Young said. “Two days later, she underwent surgery to remove a tumor in the brain. She was home three days later on a Wednesday; however, four days later, on a Sunday, my father, Robert, unexpectedly … passed in his sleep. He was buried on his birthday, June 15.

“Since then, Mom has been fighting the lung cancer, only to find out two weeks ago that another tumor has grown in her brain, causing memory issues. Unfortunately, this tumor is inoperable.”

Young was a player for Villa Duchesne, where she helped her team win a Midwest Championship in 2002. Her mom is undergoing whole-brain radiation.

When Whitfield played a recent game at Villa Duchesne, Young delivered an unforgettable tribute to her mother and father. Her mother, who also attended and played filed hockey for Villa Duchesne, was on the field with family and friends.

All five of Durbin’s daughters went to Villa. She served as president of the Villa Duchesne Alumnae Association. She also served on the school’s Board of Trustees and, with her husband, developed a scholarship fund for Villa Duchesne students.

“Throughout her decades as a parent and supporter of Villa, her and dad were known to have always been in attendance for various events including school carnivals, flower sales, athletic events and fundraisers – more specifically, the Bonne Chance Auction, where rumor had it she and Dad were unknowingly in a bidding war on opposite sides of the gym for the auction puppy,” Young said. “This is how we got our first family dog, Durby.

“But it was her support on the sidelines of her daughters’ sporting events where Mom and Dad were always known to be: Dad on the hill, and Mom along the back fence.”

Both teams presented Durbin with flowers along with posters displaying words of encouragement. It was then Young revealed that Whitfield would dedicate its season to Durbin.

Villa Duchesne, the two-time defending state champions, won that game 8-0. It was Whitfield’s first loss of the season.

The Warriors opened its 2019 campaign by playing in the 22nd annual Gateway Classic at the SportPort Athletic Complex. Whitfield won Pool K.

“This was an incredible way to kick off our season,” Young said. “It was a great test to see where we are after three weeks and what areas we need to shift our focus to.”

Whitfield last won in 2013. Before that, it was in 2004. The Warriors wanted to use the tournament as a springboard for the season.

“Our expectations were simple, to prepare for our Villa game, which is our season opener and the first game that counts toward the postseason,” Young said. “We expected all 22 girls to give every ounce of effort and leave it all on the field. We told the girls we would adjust our formation and lineups to find variations that worked for us, and I believe we were able to do just that.”

Whitfield defeated Louisville Collegiate 3-0. Senior Abby Morgan had a goal and assist, and Principia sophomore newcomer Shaya Dry and senior Audrey Jennings also scored.

“Abby and Audrey are senior captains and key players in our midfield transitional game,” Young said. “Shaya is a forward with both individual strengths and incredible field awareness. All three girls are competitive, aggressive and determined to win. They’re setting a tone for the rest of the team, and I look forward to seeing what they’re capable of this season.”

Whitfield beat Lakes Community, of Lake Villa, Illinois, 4-1 in its next game. Jennings scored on an aerial liftoff corner, assisted by Morgan just 4 minutes into the game. Freshman Sarah Schott scored off a cross from Dry with 4 minutes left in the first half. Dry scored the third goal 10 minutes into the second half off a pass from Schott. With 7 minutes left in the game, Schott finished off a cross from Morgan.

Next up was an hour break that caused a bit of a glitch.

“It definitely took a good 10 minutes of the first half to get in our groove,” Young said. “We treated every opponent like it was a defending champion, whether it was Ursuline, Collegiate or the actual defending champion, Villa.”

The teams played to a 1-1 tie. Ursuline created a scramble in front of the Whitfield goal that resulted in “two great saves by Julia Chrysler in the cage,” Young said. “The last effort by Ursuline, off a rebound, was stopped by our field player, who did exactly what she should have done by supporting her goalkeeper on the goal line. It took an unlucky bounce, coming up off her stick to hit her body resulting in a stroke and, ultimately, a goal.

“Coming into halftime down 1-0, the girls realized they weren’t playing their game and needed to get back on track. Their first step was bringing the energy back to both the field and sideline knowing how much it fuels this team. The second step was reconnecting our stick-to-stick passing, faster releases and smart/low defense.”

Schott scored the tying goal.

“We had a break away with Abby Morgan on the left side, which transitioned across the middle allowing Alayah Lipnick the fast break opportunity down the right,” Young said. “Alayah was able to cross the ball to Sarah who found the back of the net.”

Schott is off to a big start for the Warriors.

“We have Sarah training in three different positions throughout preseason – defense, forward and goalkeeper,” Young said. “She’s handled the day-to-day switches like a champ and her skill set fills a void on the left side with her quick releases and ability to finish. It’s a position she’s not used to but her defensive skills and mindset have suited her well – already giving her three goals.”

Winning the pool title was big for her team, Young said.

“You would have thought it was a Midwest Championship, but that’s a testament to their work ethic, focus and dedication,” Young said. “It’s always a thrill when you accomplish your goals.”

The team poured water on Young to celebrate.

“Most of the team headed to our tent to celebrate while a few girls and I stayed behind for an interview,” Young said. “When we arrived it was pure joy, both for players and their parents. We gathered around and I thanked the parents for their support, congratulated the players and took a moment to celebrate the immense pride I had in the team as a whole. Their unwavering support for one another and their genuine pride in each other is something to be recognized and admired.

“It’s rare when you get to coach a group like this, I feel lucky. When I finished my speech, they certainly surprised me as they dumped their water bottles on me. Luckily, I was able to toss my phone to a parent at the last second.”

Young was happy with how the team played in the Classic.

“I was thrilled to see how our team not only performed in their two wins, but how they fought back and dug deep in the final game,” Young said. “The girls have shifted their focus to the mental side of the game, incorporating positive communication, visualization and understanding the tactical side of the game better – all of which was implemented into their game play this weekend.

“I’m incredible proud of these girls and excited for what’s to come. It’s going to be a great year.”

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