Hand field hockey senior forward Katie Omdahl earned All-SCC Second Team accolades, in addition to scoring the overtime goal against Lauralton Hall that earned the Tigers their first conference title since 2010. She scored 10 times this postseason to also lead Hand to its first state title. (Photo courtesy of Katie Omdhal
Clutch Omdahl Kept Scoring Options Open Often for Hand
A surefire way to score a goal in field hockey is to get open and Katie Omdahl constantly put herself in position to convert in the cage in the most opportune instances for Hand this fall. The senior forward started with field hockey in middle school before joining the Tigers. In her final campaign at Hand, Katie earned All-SCC Second Team honors on 21 goals and six assists and helped the squad take home its first conference crown in four years by netting the game-winning overtime goal against Lauralton Hall in the SCC Tournament championship game before the Tigers also won their first state title. Katie scored 10 times this postseason and tallied a goal in the Class M final. "Being a strong goal-scorer is a team effort. Maybe I can't dribble as strong as say, [senior co-captains] Erin Mammele or Hannah Leckey, but I just get my stick down and communicate. Batting in softball also helps me in field hockey with the hand-eye coordination," says Katie, who pitches and plays catcher for Hand in the spring. "Scoring that overtime goal was a good feeling. It almost didn't feel real at first. It was great, though, especially do it in SCCs and at home. I knew I needed to do a reverse stick and it just went in the right way. [On the state final win] My team and I have trained so hard for this day and to see our entire hard work pay off is such a nice way to end the season of my senior year. This win not only represents Hand's accomplishments, but also the town of Madison and that alone feels awesome." Katie had a knack for breaking loose when she saw her teammates getting outnumbered by defenders and liked to give them some relief from the defensive heat. "When I'm out there, I try to be open and, when my teammates are in a jam, I just run to the open spot and clear my defender," Katie says. "When there are a lot of people in the circle, I'll run out with my defender, look for the ball, and try for a tip into the net." An offensive striker for the Tigers, Katie says that her on-field obligations involved being in sync with her teammates in terms of what she said and where she stood. "As a forward, I'm communicating and being where our midfielders want me to be and I should know where they like to pass it," says Katie. "I also tell the midfielders where I am and talk to other forwards for switches." Katie says that the Tigers' 3-0 road victory versus Branford on Oct. 20 was when she felt she added another dimension to her overall game. In terms of experiences away from the whistle, she states that it's been a pleasure being a big influence on the program's future. "In that Branford game, I really felt I contributed and that it was the peak of my season. I played more defense than I usually do and was dropping back," Katie says. "Being a senior leader has been great because a lot of the underclassmen look up to us and I feel all of our seniors have been role models. Even if I am having trouble with something, my teammates help me and we all learn from each other." Head Coach Sue Leckey adds that Katie had the right balance of characteristics, in addition to a feel for that prime moment to strike. "Katie is one the sweetest and kindest, yet dedicated and competitive players to coach. She is passionate about her play and about her devotion to her team and her teammates. She is reliable and never ceases to amaze fans with her consistency and durability," said Leckey. "She has a knack for putting the ball in the net in field hockey and in softball for getting the clutch hit or the clutch strikeout. She is low-maintenance for all her coaches, but she is always ready to compete, and her calm, cool demeanor never changes." After graduating some key seniors following a 2013 season that saw Hand reach the SCC Tournament final and state semis, the Tigers stuck together as a unit and simply outdid themselves this time around. "This year has meant a lot to us. We thought we would go far last year and then we lost some seniors so we were unsure about this year coming in," says Katie, who thanks her parents, Peter and Lynette, Tigers' softball skipper and field hockey assistant coach Mike Niekrash, Coach Leckey, and her teammates. "Yet this year we just came together and worked hard in practice every day."