There really is something special happening on a team when the players and the coach know they had a great season when it ends.
For the Gloucester Catholic field hockey team, the final score in a playoff loss Wednesday couldn’t begin to tell the story on just how splendid of a season the Rams enjoyed.
Talking with junior midfielder Ally Frampton and senior forward Chloe Fredericksdorf as well as coach Pam Leonhardt an hour or so after their season finale, it was really uplifting and heartwarming to hear the satisfaction in their voices on all they accomplished in this memorable season. Sure, as competitors, they wanted the season to continue, but they knew what a season they had. They understood what they did.
When you are the first at something in sports, well, that is memorable. And this Gloucester Catholic field hockey team will always be remembered for winning the program’s first playoff game.
No season-ending loss can ever take away last week’s playoff win. Their first round 3-0 victory at home against St. Rose of Belmar will always be historic. The win will always be the program’s first in the postseason. The players will always be the ones who did it.
“It was really special,” said Frampton, a special player herself, who has already committed to play in college, about this season. “The past two years have been really hard. We tried really hard, but we just couldn’t score and win. But this year it all clicked for us and it was really awesome to win games and to have a winning record. It was great to be a part of that.”
After winning three more games than the last two seasons combined, the eighth-seeded Rams posted their milestone win before losing in the quarterfinals of the South Jersey Non-Public South B tournament, a 5-3 setback to top-seeded Red Bank Catholic. RBC (16-5) will play host to fifth-seeded Camden Catholic in the semifinals on Saturday.
“It is really cool, we are such a small school and I can always say we won the first playoff game at Gloucester Catholic,” Fredericksdorf said.
She can say that forever.
But winning the first playoff game isn’t the Rams’ only postseason accomplishment. They won with their effort, too, against Red Bank Catholic.
You see, Gloucester Catholic fell behind 5-0 in the first half against RBC before scoring three unanswered goals in the second half. Frampton, Fredericksdorf and junior Catherine Krier all scored while sophomore Sara Hussey and Emily Leonhardt, a junior midfielder and the talented daughter of the coach, each added an assist.
“It was a great season, much more than I would’ve thought," Coach Leonhardt said while on the bus ride back to school. “We lost 13 seniors last year and I had a whole new team this year and they had to come together and work and communicate and learn to work with each other.”
The Rams finished the season 10-7-1 overall and 7-5 in the Tri-County Conference Diamond Division behind undefeated Delsea (12-0 in the league) and Woodstown (8-3-1).
Gloucester Catholic dropped its opener 6-0 at home against Woodstown, but beat the Wolverines 3-2 a month later to punctuate the improvement.
“Coach has been awesome, she is very positive with us,” Frampton said. “Our first game against Woodstown we lost, but she was nothing but positive after that and we ended up beating Woodstown.”
The Rams started the season 0-2-1 before coming together on the field and putting together a season for the Gloucester Catholic school and community to be proud of as well.
“We were on a streak where we won every game for two weeks," Leonhardt said.
Signs of a successful season budded when Gloucester Catholic went 4-9-2 last year. The Rams were competitive beyond the scoreboard as Fredericksdorf led the way, collecting 10 pints - four goals and six assists.
This year, Fredericksdorf paced the Rams with 19 goals, while Frampton netted 18 goals.
“They play every minute of every game," Leonhardt gushed about her two leaders and high scorers. “They play next to each other every minute. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Frampton, who lives in Glendora and grew up playing in the Gloucester Township youth programs, plays field hockey all year. She is playing in a tournament this weekend with her club team, the South Jersey Edge. Still, the Gloucester Catholic program holds an endearing place in Frampton’s heart and life.
“I am looking forward to next season,” she said.
Frampton has already committed to play field hockey at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. She is planning to major in political science and go on to law school.
She will always cherish this season and playing alongside Fredericksdorf.
“We are really good friends,” Frampton said. “I loved playing with Chloe, we knew exactly where each other were on the field.”
“She is a really great player,” Fredericksdorf said about Frampton.
“I will always remember how we played together,” Fredericksdorf added. “And I will always remember all the girls.”
Fredericksdorf, who lives in Mullica Hill, is planning to major in biology and going the pre-med route. She is looking closely at Temple and is thinking of playing club field hockey next year.
Frampton still has another season playing for the Rams and hopes to build on this unforgettable season.
“I know we started something that could be really special,” Frampton said. “And we let other girls know that you can win games no matter how small the team is, no matter who you are playing, you always have a chance to win.”
Leonhardt relied on every ounce of effort from Frampton and Fredericksdorf since there were only 16 players on the team. The Rams don't have a JV team.
“Even after we lost, she knew we worked hard,” Fredericksdorf said. “She would help anyone who were frustrated. She is just a really good person.”
Leonhardt, who played field hockey at West Deptford, started coaching in 2011 at Gloucester Catholic, where she teaches physics, forensics and algebra. She inherited a program without a senior who had a winning record in the previous four seasons at Gloucester Catholic.
And Leonhardt doesn’t have a feeder program to at least introduce players to the sport.
Consider, sophomore Olivia Blome never played goalie before this season. She ended up with 72 saves and really epitomized just how far the Rams came this season.
“She did a fantastic job," Leonhardt said.
Truly, despite the final score in the last game, this Rams’ squad was fantastic. You can argue, no team enjoyed a more satisfying season.
“I was very proud of them," Leonhardt said. “I told them what a great job they did. All our expectations were well passed. I was just very happy for them and look forward to next year.”