After Promising Start for Lehigh Field Hockey, PHS Alumna Reilly Emerging as a Team Leader

HIGH INTENSITY: Trish Reilly looks for the ball in action last fall during her freshman season for the Lehigh University field hockey team. Former Princeton High standout Reilly saw time at midfield and defense during the 2016 campaign, receiving the program’s Coaches Award. Reilly, who has been voted as a team captain, is looking to earn a starting role on defense this fall for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh begins its 2017 campaign when it hosts LIU-Brooklyn on August 25. (Photo Courtesy of Lehigh Athletics)

By Bill Alden 

For Trish Reilly, playing college sports was a matter of following family tradition.

Her father, George, played football and competed at track at Brown University, while her mother, Ann, was a field hockey player for the Bears. Reilly’s oldest sister, Meg, played for the Muhlenberg College lacrosse program while older sister Katie was a lacrosse player at Amherst College.

“After my sisters got into sports, it was always on my mind,” said Reilly, remembering when she first thought about playing college sports. “So probably since eighth grade, it was definitely a goal of mine.”

Starring for the Princeton High field hockey team and playing for the Total Dutch Field Hockey Club, Reilly worked hard to draw the attention of college coaches.

“I started taking my club team pretty seriously, beginning in my freshman year,” said Reilly, a four-year starter at PHS who tallied 28 goals and 51 assists in her career.

“I started going to the big tournaments and recruiting events during my sophomore year.”

Reilly’s diligence and production paid dividends as she achieved her goal by ultimately committing to attend Lehigh University and play for its field hockey program.

“I liked the blend of athletics and academics, it is a good distance from home,” said Reilly, a 2016 PHS grad, reflecting on her decision to join the Lehigh program.

“After meeting the team, it seemed like they all really got along well. It was a very supportive program and I definitely wanted to be a part of it.”

The emotions of making it to the next level after years of striving hit her when she took the field last fall for Lehigh’s season opener against visiting Rider in late August.

“I remember after being so exhausted from preseason, it was so hard going into it,” said Reilly.

“When the Star Spangled Banner started playing, I started crying. It is finally done. It was such a hard thing to go through. My parents were there and some of my friends were there. It was a very big moment.”

Reflecting on her freshman campaign, Reilly acknowledged that there were some tough moments.

“Adjusting to the pace was definitely a huge challenge not only because it is a different surface, but every girl is 10 times stronger than I was coming in,” said the 5’3 Reilly, who made 14 appearances in 2016 with one start, seeing action in the midfield and on defense.

“My team was definitely there to help with everything; I have definitely adjusted with them. I think one thing that I definitely needed to work on was confidence on the ball and being more of a vocal player. That just came with getting closer and more comfortable with my teammates. With their encouragement and guidance, I stepped up.”

Stepping up in a time of adversity for the Mountain Hawks last fall helped Reilly earn the team’s Coaches Award.

“There was a week where our goalies were injured and so we didn’t have a keeper in the cage,” said Reilly.

“I volunteered my minimal skill set, that kind of broke the ice and got me out of my shell. There was no pressure on that position and I ended up not doing very well but having fun with it. The award is for a team-first mentality”

Reilly’s team-first approach helped her garner another honor as she will serve as a team captain for the upcoming season.

“I was voted one of the captains so that was a big highlight and that just helped with the whole confidence thing,” said Reilly, who is currently going through preseason practice.

“I am honestly not really sure what to expect. I am more of a junior captain. So far, we are working on goals, setting ideas and values.”

With Lehigh having gone 5-3 in its last eight games in 2016 to end up with a 6-11 final record, Reilly believes the program is headed in the right direction as it prepares for its season opener against visiting LIU-Brooklyn on August 25.

“We have seen progress from even how we were in the fall and everyone has been upping their game the whole summer,” said Reilly, who focused on running drills and honing her skills through pick-up games at Total Dutch this summer to get ready for the season.

“Everyone is working hard and is excited to turn the program around. We want to make it into the Patriot League tournament, that is definitely a high goal. It is also just welcoming our freshmen and introducing them into the new environment, making sure that they are adjusted, and keeping the same closeness that we already have.”