It was 30 field hockey seasons ago when Kris Fillat patrolled the hockey pitches in San Diego County during a senior year in which she led the nation in scoring with 54 for San Diego Serra (Calif.).
Some things were a lot different back then: the San Diego teams played their games in the winter, and played all of their games on natural grass. But other things have stayed the same: Conquistadors’ head coach Laurie Berger still commands the sideline, runs the Serra Invitational, and keeps the team in their traditional plaid kilts.
This year, Megan Rodgers, a senior at Serra, was your national scoring champion with 81. It was the third-highest total by a graduating senior in the recorded history of scholastic field hockey in the United States.
As fate would have it, Rodgers met the newly-inducted USA Field Hockey Hall-of-Famer, now Kris Fillat-Buchanan, at a reception for Serra’s field hockey alumnae.
“She told me that she was rooting for me to break her scoring record,” Rodgers says. “That was pretty neat.”
There have been a number of neat experiences for Rogers this year. This week, she is playing alongside 71 other scholastic field hockey stars in a four-team tournament at Spooky Nook to help select the U17 and U19 national sides for the 2017 calendar year.
She’s played at the National Futures Tournament, helping Team Seoul to a seventh-place finish. She helped the U-19 California Rush to a fifth place at the National Club Championship.
But before that was her baptism into international experience. She wore the red, white, and blue with the U17 national team in a tournament in Germany. At her very first practice, along with the U19 pool, Rodgers encountered a number of names with whom she would be in close company in both single-season and career scoring.
Making that trip to Germany would be Mackenzie Allessie, who would score 76 goals in the winter of 2016, along with Meredith Sholder (58), Sammy Popper (56), and Mayv Clune (47). Also amongst the participants was Haley Schleicher, she of the 200-goal, 200-assist career and Kelee Lepage, who had 47 last year before her matriculation to Maryland. And one of the assistants just happened to be the legendary Tracey Fuchs, whose scholastic single-season mark of 82 goals stood for three decades.
It was a talented group, but there was only one ball. Rodgers used it well, knocking in a pair of goals for the U17s in a 5-4 loss to a German select side. She also points to the lessons learned as helping her become a better player.
“We wanted to bring the way we played internationally and with the California Rush to Serra,” Rodgers says.
She did. During the 2016 season, the Conquistadors used speed, interpassing, and Rodgers to amass not only 27 wins, but 227 goals, the fifth-highest total any American scholastic field hockey team has ever recorded.
Serra was able to vanquish division rivals, regional powers, and even a couple of teams from outside the San Diego Section. But what Serra has done exceptionally well over the last few years is manage themselves during the demanding Serra Invitational.
The tournament, which has been around almost as long as Berger has been head coach, is a two-weekend affair which sees teams play three games on consecutive Saturdays; the first weekend is round-robin pool play, the second weekend is the playoff/classification bracket. It’s a test of not only physical endurance, but mental strength.
They are games in which the pressure increases along with the physical toll of play. But the Conquistadors came up with a performance for the ages on the final day, scoring 30 goals in the knockout rounds. Yep, 30.
‘”By the time we got to that championship game, we were pretty fatigued,” Rodgers says. “But we got together before the game and reminded ourselves of what we have to do.”
Serra started the day with a 7-0 win over Escondido San Pasqual (Calif.), then beat San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.) 12-0 in the semifinals before beating San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 11-3 in the final.
The attacking brilliance continued unabated through October and November, to the point where Serra kept eight consecutive clean sheets to close the season, beating Scripps Ranch 6-0 in the final of the CIF San Diego Section’s Open Division Tournament.
Rodgers and the rest of her teammates have become highly sought-after in terms of collegiate recruiting. The Big Ten and ACC have snapped up teammates Meagan and Katie Schneider and Katherine Peterson, but Rodgers instead chose the University of California, Berkeley.
“A lot of people in our section think they have to go out East to play good field hockey,” Rodgers said. “I wanted to keep it in California. I want to be able to improve the team. And Cal is a great school.”
Rodgers joins a list of national scoring champions from years past. Let us know if there are any additions or corrections that need to be made to the list below. This especially goes for 1988. That missing number has been driving us mad.
2016: Megan Rodgers, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 81
2015: Nikki Santore, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 69
2014: Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 95
2013: Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 96
2012: Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 68
2011: Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 69
2010: Danielle Allan, Pompton Lakes (N.J.) 56
2009: Kelsey Mitchell, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 69
2008: Lucas Long, Allentown William Allen (Pa.) 43
2007: Lauren Gonsalves, Harwich (Mass.) 56
2006: Kaitlyn Hiltz, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 50
2005: Kelly Fitzpatrick, Palmyra (Pa.) 66
2004: Amie Survilla, Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.) 64
2003: Anne Marie Janus, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 44
2002: Shauna Banta, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Amanda Arnold, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) 49
2001: Tiffany Marsh, Marathon (N.Y.) 57
2000: Rebecca Hooven, Plumsteadville Plumstead Christian (Pa.) 54
1999: Rebecca Hooven, Plumsteadville Plumstead Christian (Pa.) 48
1998: Kelli Hill, Manasquan (N.J.) 43
1997: Tiffany Serbanica, Madison (N.J.) Borough 43
1996: Carla Tagliente, Marathon (N.Y.) 51
1995: Kim Miller, Frank W. Cox (Va.) 63
1994: Michelle Vizzuso, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 69
1993: Melissa Pasnaci, Miller Place (N.Y.) 60
1992: Diane DeMiro, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 56
1991: Denise Nasca, Centereach (N.Y.) 56
1990: Shelley Parsons, Waterfall Forbes Road (Pa.) 50
1989: Christine McGinley, Medford Lakes Shawnee (N.J.) 40
1987: Kris Fillat, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 53
1986: Dana Fuchs, Centereach (N.Y.) 57
1985: Hope Sanborn, Walpole (Mass.) and Sharon Landau, Mamaroneck Rye Neck (N.Y.) 53
1984: Michelle Vowell, Garden Grove Santiago (N.Y.) 56
1983: Tracey Fuchs, Centereach (N.Y.) 82
1982: Mare Chung, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 48