WILKES-BARRE TWP. — “Nervous” doesn’t seem to be in Kari Leach’s vocabulary.
One shouldn’t be surprised that the sophomore goalie for the No. 17 King’s field hockey team isn’t fazed to take on 13th-ranked Elizabethtown today.
After all, there’s not much to be nervous about during the game after singing the national anthem before it.
“I was hesitant about having her do it before a big game, but she does a fantastic job,” King’s coach Cheryl Ish said. “Obviously it never bothers her. I would be a nervous wreck singing the national anthem. For her, it’s part of her warm-up now.”
Leach’s talents in net and on the microphone will be on display for the Lady Monarchs as they host Elizabethtown at 4 p.m. at Betzler Fields.
Following the lead set by her teammates, Leach is rather nonchalant when it comes to talking about her abilities — “I’ve just been doing it for awhile,” is all she says about her unique pregame routine — but the results speak for themselves.
King’s (10-0) comes into the nationally ranked showdown riding a program record 10-game winning streak and revenge on the brain. The Blue Jays (9-1) derailed the Monarchs’ 9-0 start last season, and with a win over then-No. 1 Messiah College on their resume this season, will once again be a formidable foe.
“I think our players and our staff are just looking forward to it,” Ish said. “It’s an opportunity to kind of see where we are, it’s an opportunity to play a great game and it’s a team that absolutely helps us prepare for our conference games, which is the most important thing.”
While Elizabethtown is talented, King’s has some stars of its own, headlined by senior forward Lindsay Sabo, who became the school’s all-time points leader last week with 133.
This season, Sabo leads the Monarchs with 33 points on the strength of 16 goals and one assist. The talented shooter has 53 goals on her career, one shy of yet another career record at King’s.
The only record she’s concerned about right now, though, is that winning streak.
“I love that,” Sabo said. “Before I came here, King’s didn’t even make it to the playoffs and every year now we’re making it and then we’re going in higher seeded. We’re getting better and just continually improving.”
The Monarchs’ recent success can be attributed in part to the confidence that has been bred thanks to a second straight hot start, and in part to a player-friendly atmosphere where the starting goalie can go out and sing before games.
But rest assured, Leach would much rather talk about what will happen during today’s game against the Blue Jays.
“It’s kind of like revenge,” Leach said. “Last year, they gave us the first loss we had. We are not letting them be our first loss this year. We want to beat this team to prove how good we are.”
NCAA Division III Field Hockey
No. 13 Elizabethtown (9-1) at No. 17 King’s (10-0)
4 p.m. today