Never a player, himself, Central Bucks High School West Field Hockey coach David DeAngelis had to learn the X’s andfield hockey players gather around their coach O’s of field hockey. He did that through the two daughters and a son who played the sport from childhood to adulthood and a wife who played as well. Then there is his staff of assistants who bring a wealth of playing experience.

But the X’s and O’s of life? DeAngelis needed no coaching there.

“We've always liked him, and he really is a good coach,’’ says Kendall Siegle, one of the co-captains of this year’s 16-1-1 team. “And he does truly care about each and every one of us. That, more than anything else, is what I think is important about our coach.’’

Amid the interruptions and uncertainties of a pandemic, DeAngelis has piloted an exhilarating three-year turnaround in the program, as the team flipped from a pandemic-shortened 2-8 record in 2020 to its first winning season in five years and their first PIAA state playoff appearance since 2016.

“It has been a true privilege and blessing watching their development,’’ DeAngelis says. “And it starts with our coaching staff. Our egos are checked at the door, and everyone brings a different skill and strength. Our sole purpose is how we can benefit and develop each student-athlete in the team concept.

cb west field hockey team seniors stand in formation on the fieldNamed as the Bucks County Courier Times/Intelligencer Field Hockey Team of the Year, CB West defeated Souderton and Neshaminy in the district tournament to earn the sixth seed in the PIAA Class 3 A state championship.

The Bucks lost 3-1 in the first round to eventual state champion Lower Dauphin.

Still, it was a turnaround from two years ago, in the Covid-shortened season, when the Bucks finished last in the SOL Colonial Division with two wins and scored just six goals over 10 games.  In 2021, the Bucks were second to last in the division, but the 45 goals scored and an 8-10 record last season involved a slew of close losses to good teams, says Siegle, a four-year starter at midfield who garnered all-state honorable mention this year.

“Going into the season we knew we had a lot of talent, and we knew we had the connections,’’ she says. “We had finished the previous year off strong, so if we could just keep it going, we knew we were going to be pretty good this year.’’

Siegle finished with 13 goals and four assists. More importantly, she controlled the game’s flow from her spot on the field. And while there were standouts on the team such as  first team all-state freshman midfielder Aida Ierubino (16 goals, 11 assists), junior forward Nina Mayro (16 goals, 11 assists), junior midfielder Lily Cosner (six goals, 11 assists) and freshman goaltender Kendra Pitts (11 shutouts), the Bucks’ success was due more to an overall team concept and effort that has been preached by DeAngelis and his staff – Lori Ierubino, Bryn Boylan, Anna and Chris Hall -- from his first day at the helm. “Each member of our staff has been instrumental regarding our success,” DeAngelis explains.

It encompasses four tenets, he says: fitness, technical skills, tactical skills and most importantly, mindset.

“Mental toughness,’’ he says. “There are going to be times where it's super hard. Remain focused, accountable, anda field hockey team and their coaches pose for a photo responsible to your teammates, and trust our training.”

“Our forward line, our midfield, our back line, and our keeper, they were fit, they were skilled, they were tactful, and they had that aggressive mindset. It was all about ball movement and off-ball movement. A lot of alumni came back this year because they saw that it was going well and was a fun brand of hockey to watch. It's open, it's fast, it's exciting. That's how we play.’’

And it’s likely to continue. Of the five Bucks players to receive all-state honors, only Siegle graduates. And that’s not including Pitts, the goaltender. “We’re set up to succeed,’’ says DeAngelis. “But there will be openings, opportunities for others to step in and contribute. It’s an exciting time again for our program.’’

Photo credit: Marge Bullock Photography