By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
Say this for Haley Kerstetter: She's consistent.
Ask the Selinsgrove senior about her role on the field hockey team, or what most satisfied her during the 2011 season, or what she considers the most memorable moment. Her earnest answers invariably drift away from ball and stick, strategy and execution.
She'll talk about leadership, effort and camaraderie. That's probably because, in her case, playing stellar hockey was always a given. This past season, though, she felt responsible to keep the talented Seals on track toward their lofty goals.
"I was one of the team leaders and I tried to make sure we worked together as a whole and had good communication on the field," Kerstetter said. "I always tried my hardest and encouraged others to give 100 percent."
Kerstetter, who was consistently great in all aspects of the game, has been honored as the 2011 Daily Item field hockey MVP.
Seals coach Cathy Keiser pointed to Kerstetter's exceptional vision, game sense and stickwork as characteristics that set her apart, calling the two-time all-state midfielder "an outstanding all-around player." A spot on Penn State's roster next fall is testament to that.
Kerstetter was motivated on many fronts in 2011. She was a captain, along with Jess Davis, on a relatively young team with sky-high expectations. She also had a program's tradition to uphold, and a legacy to forge with a star-studded senior class.
She was conflicted by the captaincy, intimidated by the role yet excited to have the opportunity.
"It was kind of scary, having so many people look up to you," she admitted. "I've never been one to have all eyes on me, and other girls were looking to me to make sure things would go smooth. But I did enjoy and embrace being one of the leaders of a young team."
Kerstetter, a three-time Daily Item all-star, was second on the team with 14 goals. She also had four assists. And if field hockey scoring was akin to a business transaction, Kerstetter would have received a percentage for so many of Coli Deckard's 20 goals, or Sarah Ross' 11, for her midfield work.
The Seals were 21-2-1, winning their third consecutive Heartland-I championship and seventh straight District 4 Class AA title. Kerstetter's senior class went 84-8-3, one of the best four-year stretches in program history. The Class of 2010 won 93 games from 2006-09.
"I was always ecstatic and proud when we walked off the field with a win," she said. "Knowing all the effort we put in -- there wasn't one person who was not trying to make the team the best it could be -- there's a great sense of accomplishment."
n Keiser named coach of the year
Keiser was named The Daily Item field hockey Coach of the Year for the 2011 season. In addition to her team's success, Keiser marked the year with her milestone 500th career win, joining an elite group of high school hockey coaches. She closed her 28th season with a record of 506-91-26.