With plays like this, it’s not hard to see why Strath Haven is excited about Jess Borbee.
Jess Borbee was a part of the Strath Haven lacrosse team that made a Cinderella run to the state final before losing a heartbreaker, 10-9 in overtime, to Garnet Valley.
This fall, Panthers field hockey head coach Amanda Fishwick-Lawson is hoping that some of that experience can rub off on a team that failed to make districts last year for the first time in eight seasons.
“She brings a very valuable experience to our team after what she and the lacrosse team did,” FIshwick-Lawson said. “Plus, she’s got a very good reputation around the league for her play, and as a senior, we expect her to lead us. She doesn’t think of herself as a star, but she’s really good.”
Borbee, who barely missed the cut for the All-Delco team a year ago, is one of three four-year starters – along with Casey Oehler and Rebecca Lucci – that Fishwick-Lawson figures to lean on as the Panthers aim to cement a berth in the District One tournament this year. It’s a dark horse team that could be a major pain to deal with if it can put everything together in the always competitive Central League.
Borbee and Oehler will team up to form one of the best defensive duos in Delco. While she doesn’t garner as much hype as Borbee, Oehler earned lofty praise from her coach, who expects her to handle some of the Panthers’ opponents’ best snipers.
“She made so many defensive saves for us last year,” Fishwick-Lawson said of Oehler. “She was like having a second goalie out there. “
She and Borbee will need to be like second goalies again, at least at the beginning, as sophomore Caroline Boyd takes over full-time in the cage. Boyd saw a good amount of time last season, but this will be her first year as the unquestioned go-to girl for the Panthers. That title comes with a bit of pressure.
“I think she’s feeling the pressure a little bit,” Fishwick-Lawson said. “But she’ll be fine. She’ll do good things for us. Plus, I told her that Jess and Casey are there to make her life easier, and I think that’s going to help a lot.”
Boyd will be a part of a good chunk of sophomores that Strath Haven relies on to make its ascension up the Central League ranks, but the Panthers have talent scattered across the different grade levels. Fishwick-Lawson pointed to Alex Bonser as a potential star in the making.
“She got a lot of time as a freshman and started as a sophomore,” said Fishwick-Lawson, who sees Bonser as either an attacking midfielder or a forward. “She played club for me at Horizon this offseason. She’s been working so hard and I think she’s going to surprise a lot of people. We’re really excited about her.”
Bonser and Lucci will be the ones tasked with keeping opposing goalies busy. After moving around in her first three years in Nether Providence, Lucci figures to stick on the forward line this year.
“She’s so skilled,” Fishwick-Lawson said of Lucci. “She’s going to be great this year.”
And if Fishwick-Lawson has her way, so will her team. Not making the district tournament a year ago still sticks in the craw of her players, especially the seniors, and the Panthers would love to be back for a shot at postseason glory.
“The team goal is always to win the Central League,” Fishwick-Lawson said. “But if we can finish top 3 in the league, making it to districts is a good secondary goal to have.”
– MATT CHANDIK