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Field hockey: South sophomore emerges as leader


Anna Shirley is only a sophomore.

But watching her play, it’s hard to tell.

Shirley is the center back for the Central Bucks South field hockey team.

“I started off the season at right midfield,” Shirley said. “But our season didn’t start off too well and our coach (Pat Toner) wanted to change things up so we tried a new lineup.

“It’s been working pretty well so we’re sticking with the changes.”

Shirley is fine wherever she plays.

“I didn’t think I’d like defense but I’m enjoying it,” she said. “You can really see the whole field. I’ve always been either a forward or a midfielder so it’s a big change for me.

“It’s a good experience. I feel like I can play any position on the field now.”

She still has opportunities to score.

“On our offensive corners I’m the insert and I’m on post so I still get my chances,” she said. “Defense was an adjustment for me but I still can score on corners.”

On defensive corners she is the left trail, so she sees corners from both sides.

She saw significant playing time on varsity last year as a freshman.

“I got in some games in the beginning of the year and toward the middle of the season I was starting,” she said. “By the time we got to the playoffs I wasn’t starting but I still got a lot of playing time.

“I think I learned a lot from getting all that playing time in last year and from the older girls on the team. The ball is so much faster at the varsity level. I think I’ve grown into it but I’m also still learning a lot.”

She thinks her team has a lot of potential.

“We’re a young team,” she said. “I think I have more experience than a lot of people so I do try to be a little bit of a leader.

“I think our team can make it to the playoffs this year. We lost some tough games early and we have a lot of tough games to go but I think we can do it.

“We need to work hard and play the best we can and of course have fun.”

Her field hockey career began when she was in first grade at Doylestown Athletic Association.

“My mother played field hockey when she was younger so she got me started in it,” Shirley said. “I fell in love with it.”

She also plays club hockey for FSC (Field Hockey Sport Club), owned by former national team member Michelle Finegan.

“Field hockey is my number one sport,” said Shirley, who also plays lacrosse for the Titans.

Off the field, she participates in a new club, OES, Operation Eternal Gratitude, which organizes care packages for overseas military personnel.

She would like to play in college, but hasn’t started her college search yet. She is unsure of a major.

CB South coach Pat Toner appreciates having Shirley on the team.

“Anna plays with a great deal of poise, especially for a sophomore,” Toner said. “We have asked her to play offense, midfield and defense.

She does whatever she is asked and does it well.

“She is loved by her teammates and coaches and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a bad mood. She works hard both on and offseason and we are lucky to have her on our team. She currently leads our team in total points.”