Lady Dragon field hockey garners recognition

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By Sam Draut

South Oldham field hockey completed its best season in program history, which seemingly can be said at the conclusion of each year in recent memory. The Lady Dragons won the Apple Cup for the second straight year and coach Penny Periard was named the 2018 Kentucky Field Hockey Coaches Association (KFHCA) Coach of the Year.

The team that won 18 games this fall has improved upon its win total each of the last four seasons while becoming a more prominent competitor.

Goalkeeper Amani Sodhi, who finished with 129 saves for the third most in the state, was named first-team all-state. The senior, who signed with Davidson College to become the program’s second Division-I signee ever, had the second-most shut outs in the state.

Sodhi joined Avery Periard, a freshman playing field hockey at Central Michigan University, as a member of South Oldham advancing their field hockey careers to the next level. As Penny Periard’s passion for field hockey transfers to her players, so too does the opportunity for student-athletes to seek careers collegiately.

“It really excites me,” Periard said. “Amani started for me in eighth grade when I was the assistant. She has played goalie all the way up. It is such a pleasure to watch her grow as a goalie.”

Periard expects several more of her players to advance to the college ranks in the coming years. Abby Periard and Anna Crump were two of the best juniors in the state.

Crump, who led the state with 43 goals and finished fifth in assists, was second-team all-state. Abby Periard, a first-team all-state member, had 24 assists, the third most in the state.

With an emphasis on passing, South Oldham was the second-highest scoring offense with 4.6 goals per game.

“I stress team playing,” Penny Periard said. “We do a lot of drills all together as a team. We do a lot of transfers and make sure it is a team effort, not just a ‘me’ effort.”

Sophomores Sarah-Grace McDowell tied for the third-most goals and seventh-most assists in the state while Maya Guinn ranked 14th in goals and ninth in assists. McDowell was named second-team all-state.

The team may have surprised their coach in the Apple Tournament hosted by Sacred Heart Academy. South Oldham defeated Male 3-1 in the final to win its second straight tournament title.

“I never expected that we would win again,” Penny Periard said. “All the girls stepped up to the plate and said ‘we are going to win this.’”

An even bigger surprise came at the state championship between Sacred Heart and Kentucky Country Day, when Periard was announced as the state’s coach of the year.

“I had no clue,” Penny Periard said. “I could have never done that without Mr. Irvin’s (South Oldham Athletic Director) support, the team’s support and the parents supporting me knowing that I am a tough coach and I want to get to the next level.”

For South Oldham, the next level comes in the form of reaching the state tournament. Kentucky Country Day (KCD) and Ballard have met in the regional final each of the past two seasons while South Oldham, North Oldham and St. Francis’s season has ended short of the state tournament.

“Our region is really tough,” Periard said. “We have taken steps. The first year, it was ‘let’s not get mercy ruled,’ next year we won the Apple Tournament, and then we won the Apple Tournament again. The next step is state for these girls.”