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Player of the Week winner

Field Hockey’s Ava De Natale Named LoHud “Player of the Week”

Ninth-grader Ava De Natale had possession of the ball and was running down the pitch. It was the beginning of a field hockey game against Pleasantville on Viking Stadium. Ava told herself that if she didn’t shoot at that moment, she wouldn’t make it. She was off to the side of the field but decided to shoot anyway. She tumbled and fell onto the turf… but she scored!

That quick-thinking goal helped her team soar to a competitive and hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Panthers. It – and her excellent playing over the last month, including another goal in a 3-1 win over Croton – netted Ava the recognition of being named lohud’s field hockey Player of the Week for the last week of September.

“I was really excited,” said Ava, her team’s leading scorer, who learned that she won while at home with her family. “It is really cool to get recognized. It’s a good feeling to have.”

Ava was nominated alongside nine other standout field hockey players from Westchester, Rockland and Dutchess counties. She won – and was in the lead throughout the entire voting process – despite Valhalla being one of the smallest schools nominated. She earned one-third of the 35,000-plus votes cast.

“What makes her so good is her quickness,” coach Ashlee Austin told lohud. “Ava always wants the ball and will often out-run people to get it… (She) takes all critique and suggestions with open arms and then applies them to the game play… In the future, we are looking to grow Ava as a player and continue to see her as our leading scorer.”

Ava began playing field hockey during the summer before seventh grade. She played for two years on the modified team before being called up to the varsity team for her freshman year. Her interest in field hockey was inspired by her family’s love of hockey.

“Field hockey is really fun,” said Ava, who plays center forward and is the only freshman on the varsity team. “I like that it’s fast-paced and hands-on. My family watches hockey and it’s a similar game.”