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A good one got away

In just two seasons Maribeth Brogna helped put Wyoming Area field hockey on the map. Now she’s gone and she will be hard to replace.

She moved to Clarion in Western Pennsylvania.

When Brogna was hired in 2009, the Lady Warriors had won a total of six games in the five previous seasons combined. Three of those wins had come the year before, 2008, when the lady Warriors were 3-11-1 under Molly Kearns, who started the resurgence with a team loaded with underclassmen. That 3-11-1 record was decent in a division where the leader won just six games and it put WA in the D2 AA playoffs for the first time where they lost in the first round 2-1 to 12-2 Meyers.

In Brogna’s first season, 2009, the Lady Warriors won three of their last four to finish 6-8-1 in the regular season, with six losses by one goal and two in overtime. They were the third seed in the AA playoffs and they beat Northwest 3-1 in the first round, the first playoff win ever for the program. They lost to powerhouse Wyoming Sem in the second round to finish 7-9-1.

Last season the Lady Warriors produced the first winning season in program history going 10-5 in the regular season. In the playoffs they won a first round game over rival Pittston Area, but then lost 4-3 to Dallas in the quarterfinals.

That was Brogna’s last game and that was the one disappointment of her two seasons. “I was hoping to get one game further,” she said.

Brogna is a good coach, but admittedly she had the main thing a coach needs – good players. Many of the girls she coached these last two seasons were from the junior high team in 2007, which was 17-1 and won the District 2 championship.

She said she is in touch with some of the parents of her WA players and she is following the search for a new coach.

Whoever the next coach is Brogna will be following the 2011 season from afar. “I can’t wait to see what happens. I believe they are on the verge of something big. It broke my heart to leave. I’m gonna miss them a lot. I loved the kids, the families. Very nice people. No problems. A great bunch of people.”

Brogna’s strength as a coach was teaching the game. She prowled the sidelines during games and looked for teachable moments in the action, when she would turn to the kids on the bench and point out a mistake or correct play. “I wanted the kids, the team, to understand the game,” she said. “Sometimes there is a bigger picture behind the scenes.”

The Clarion area does not offer high school field hockey. The closest team is a college team 40 miles away.

Though Brogna might have moved in any case, she was disappointed the Wyoming Area school board didn’t hire her as a teacher. Maybe if they did, she would have stayed.

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