Syracuse University has a lot of the things Shenendehowa rising senior Rachel Sterle was looking for.
Sterle has some things Syracuse wanted, too, including the gift to go fast.
“You can’t teach speed, and Rachel has it. They are very impressed with that,” Shenendehowa field hockey coach Jeanne Frevola said. “She has her skills, and she has that explosive, powerful speed. You blink, and she’s down the field.”
Sterle earlier this week accepted an offer from Syracuse field hockey coach Ange Bradley to play for the Orange beginning in the fall of 2021.
“It was so cool when they asked me if I would be interested. I was so happy,” the 16-year-old Sterle said. “She [Bradley] was really excited when I said yes.”
Bradley has transformed Syracuse into a national power in her 13 years there in part by recruiting players who combine outstanding skill with exceptional speed. Syracuse has qualified for the NCAA Division I tournament in 11 of the past 12 years, and, in 2015, the Orange captured the national championship when Shenendehowa graduate Caroline Cady was on the roster.
“I wanted to play at a Division I school with good academics and athletics,” said Sterle, who is also a standout student with a career 94 high school average. “They had that.”
Frevola said Sterle, a two-time first-team Suburban Council field hockey all-star, had been on Syracuse’s radar for quite some time.
“She [Bradley] has always shown some interest,” Frevola said. “It’s exciting that we’ll have another player going to Syracuse.”
Sterle missed the second half of her junior season due to a knee injury in late September. Frevola said her star forward is back to the form that first attracted the attention of Syracuse and several other collegiate programs.
“She is back to full playing strength and speed,” Frevola said. “She played all summer with ADK [Field Hockey Club], and has done a lot of work on her own.”
While Sterle showed off her skills at a Syracuse camp last summer, she was determined to show the Orange staff something else following her injury. Sterle suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in a game against Guilderland, and had surgery in October.
“After I got hurt, I wanted to try to come back faster and better than I was before. I did that. That’s what I trained for,” said Sterle, who was medically cleared ahead of schedule in the spring. “I wanted to show my work ethic.”
Sterle was having a superb junior season prior to her injury. Among her shining moments was an overtime game-winning goal when Shenendehowa edged Virginia power Langley 1-0.
“She was bringing the ball up and drawing people. She was getting her goals. She was a main part of our corners on defense and when we were attacking,” Frevola said. “She is a real worker. When she was gone, we really missed her.”
Sterle’s high school career has been marked by timely goals. Her first varsity goal came as a freshman, when, as a late-season JV call-up, she delivered in a 2-0 Section II Class A semifinal win over Guilderland. As a sophomore, she notched the overtime game-winner when Shenendehowa again beat Guilderland in the Class A semis 2-1. Earlier that season, her overtime tally lifted the Plainsmen over Kingston 2-1.
“I want to thank all of my coaches for their support, especially the Shenendehowa and the ADK coaches, as well as my teammates and friends,” Sterle said. “I also want to thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love.”
Sterle also runs track and, as a sophomore during the 2019 outdoor season, she won the Suburban Council 200-meter championship and the Section II Group 1 100-meter title.
Sterle plans to major in biology at Syracuse.
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