On January 4th and 5th, two SPark indoor field hockey teams qualified for the National Indoor Tournament. The National Indoor Tournament, held annually in late February and early March, pulls together standout indoor clubs from across the nation for the opportunity to compete on the national stage and be crowned an indoor national champion, and gives players the chance to be recruited from the many college coaches in attendance. In order to compete at the NIT, teams must finish at the top of a National Indoor Qualifier.
The U16 SPark Blue and U19 SPark Blue travelled to Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts to compete in their qualifier. Lee Swinscoe and Tom Jester coached the U19 Blue team to qualifying in fourth place by winning all 4 games in pool play (with scores of 5-0, 6-0, 9-1, 10-1) and then produced two wins in three games during pool crossovers. Coach Swinscoe reflects on the team’s performance: "The new indoor format of 5v5 this year is a much faster game, and we took several opportunities to use a kicking back to capitalize on this. We traded an extra field player for the goalkeeper to create a man-up opportunity” and he is excited to keep practicing with the team to prepare them for NIT’s.
SPark U16 Blue scored 41 goals in 8 games that led them to a second place finish in their qualifier. With 7 wins and 1 tie, Coach Betz Wild was very impressed with how her team quickly came together. Coach Wild said, "The team played patient, strong indoor hockey. They have only been playing together for a month but the girls are growing more and more confident as a team. I am very proud of their progress and am looking forward to the competition at NITs.”The National Indoor Tournament will be held inside the Richmond Convention Center on February 28-March 2 for U19 and Virginia Beach Convention Center on March 7-9 for U16.