The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

July 30, 2012

Selinsgrove grad 'looked great' in Olympics

SELINSGROVE — Despite her team’s 2-1 loss to Germany on Sunday, Olympic field hockey player and Selinsgrove Area High School graduate Keli Smith Puzo “looked great,” according to her former coach.

“I think she played great,” said Cathy Keiser, coach of the Selinsgrove Seals. Trained by Keiser, Smith Puzo played field hockey for the school district starting in seventh grade up through her graduation in 1998.

“She just had it all from the very beginning,” Keiser said. “She’s improved tremendously.”

She said she remembered Smith Puzo’s father before each game telling his daughter to stay focused and be mentally tough. Smith Puzo was not just athletic, she said, but was a committed, focused hard worker and a team player.

Smith Puzo played 43 minutes of her team’s opening match in London and “she played great,” Keiser said. “She’s always so focused when she plays. You can tell by watching her. Her head is always 100 percent into the game.”

The U.S. team is playing against some top-notch competitors, Keiser said. Germany made two “beautiful goals. … There’s no way our keeper could have gotten them,” she said. “Germany is just really good.”

However, in the second half of the game, America came back with a goal. “They really stepped it up and made some adjustments,” Keiser said.

Some of the younger players were probably nervous. “It’s a big deal” to play in the Olympics, Keiser said, but “they do have a strong group of returning players. I think that helped them a lot.”

“I really felt like we were right there in the game with them the whole time, even when it was 2-0,” she said.

The U.S. team’s next match will be against Argentina on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in London’s time zone and 2 p.m. our time. Argentina beat South Africa 7-1 in its opening game in the London Olympics.

Smith Puzo’s game wrapped up at about 10:30 p.m. London time, and she was unable to be reached for comment by deadline Sunday.

At 33, she is the oldest member of the U.S. women’s field hockey team. She also is the mother of two sons, Xavi, 2, and Ian, who will be 1 on Aug. 31. Smith Puzo is the field hockey coach for Ohio’s Miami University.

She played field hockey at the University of Maryland and went to the 2008 Beijing Olympics with the U.S. field hockey team.

After the London Olympics, Smith Puzo will retire from playing field hockey to focus on her family, Keiser said. “I know she’s ready for that,” she said of her former student.

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