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FALL ALL-AREA: Field Hockey: Bohmke kept her cool as the Indians fired-up

SEE MORE HERE: Field Hockey Capsules

Natalie Bohmke, The Free Lance–Star field hockey player of the year, steadied the Indians all season long. (Photo by Marie Sicola / THE FREE LANCE-STAR)



Stafford junior Natalie Bohmke didn’t lead her team in goals or assists, let alone finish among the Commonwealth District or Fredericksburg area’s top scorers.

You almost never saw Bohmke dashing forward on an attack, setting up a teammate for a goal or striking a did-you-see-that shot.

But to describe her play on defense for the Indians this fall, Stafford coach Dani Woodie would use two adjectives: consistency and composure.


    This week, The Free Lance-Star is unveiling our fall high school All-Area teams. Here is the schedule:

    Tuesday: Golf

    Wednesday: Cross country (Boys / Girls)

    Thursday: Volleyball

    TODAY: Field hockey

    Saturday: Football All-Area team and coach of the year

    Sunday: Football player of the year

Bohmke is The Free Lance–Star’s field hockey player of the year, chosen not for eye-popping statistics, but because of her always-composed demeanor and a consistent run of strong performances in the back for the Indians.

The Indians endured an up-and-down regular season but beat Mountain View, 1–0, to win the Northwest Region title and topped South County in a 2–1 Group AAA state quarterfinal.

Through all those games—both the big wins and early-season defeats—Woodie couldn’t recall Bohmke not living up to the expectations Stafford has for her.

“Not at all, really,” Woodie said. “She didn’t really have a bad game in there.”

Bohmke’s best physical attribute is her speed. She wouldn’t claim to be the fastest player on Stafford’s team—“we have a core group of top runners,” she said—but despite her small size, few in the area are better at chasing down an offensive player who has broken through the midfield.

“She can match the speed of the quick forwards,” Woodie said. “Even with her size, she’ll get back there and shut a girl down.”

There’s also no panic in her face, no matter how intense the opposing attack is. Bohmke comes across as quiet and reserved, but she’s tenacious inside the defensive circle.

“Oh, sometimes I’m panicked,” she said. “I just try not to show it. If I’m in front or behind [a fellow defender] and I freak out, you’re going to freak out, too.

“If I stay calm and am constructive about it, even if I’m not sure about the situation, it makes the whole thing turn out better.”

The Indians played Bohmke in many different positions this year, including as a center midfielder where they hoped she could help generate an attack.

But in the end, she always seemed to end up back on the defensive line.

“We have a tradition at Stafford of building from our defense to our offense,” Woodie said. “That’s what we do—we put our strongest players in the back.”

It meant Bohmke wasn’t in on a lot of scoring opportunities, but that doesn’t seem to matter much to her.

“You’re not the hero or the top scorer, but there’s a different side to it,” she said. “Instead of scoring a goal or an assist, you do your job.

“It’s a different feeling, but it’s still exciting. You know you were successful, and the team is successful because of it.”

Bohmke will be back next year to lead Stafford again. She’ll probably be a captain again—this year she was the first junior captain Woodie has had in her four years at Stafford.

And she’ll be called upon to be a more vocal leader.

“We want her to be more vocal,” Woodie said. “She leads by example right now.”

Bohmke will also be finalizing her college plans. She likes Virginia Commonwealth and William & Mary, and should have a chance to play field hockey at either school, because when you watch the Indians play, it’s hard not to notice their speedy defender holding down the back line.

“[College coaches] look at her on the field and she just stands out,” Woodie said. “She’s a smart player. They can tell that she’s thinking out there and that she has great vision and can distribute. That’s what college coaches are looking for.”

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045