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Field hockey goalkeeper ends historic career

Graduate+student+goalkeeper+Addie+Clark+waves+to+the+crowd+against+Drexel+Sept.+1%2C+2023.+
Courtesy of App State Athletics
Graduate student goalkeeper Addie Clark waves to the crowd against Drexel Sept. 1, 2023.

Fifth-year field hockey goalkeeper Addie Clark played a pivotal role in the historic success of the 2023 team. 

Clark was selected as one of the team’s captains entering the season, and her play was recognized as she racked up awards. She was named the MAC Goalkeeper of the Year as well as being named to the All-MAC first team. Clark reached the 250 career saves mark in her five years playing for the Mountaineers. 

“I am proud of not only the work that I put in, but the way that my team was able to execute and have success,” Clark said. “I wouldn’t have made first team or goalkeeper of the year had I not had an excellent defense as well.”

The 2023 App State team tied the record for the most wins in a single-season tallying 14 victories and rattled off the third-longest winning streak with nine-straight victories. 

The Black and Gold won the regular season MAC championship for the first time in program history. The team focused on the idea of “small ego, big mission” which allowed them to band together as one. 

“Part of the reason we had success this season even when it was hard was the mindset of overcoming adversity and joining together and holding each other accountable,” said junior defender Sarah Perkins. 

Clark attributes much of her success to a shift in mindset.

“I adopted a mindset early on in my collegiate career of a progress mindset and an improvement mindset instead of focusing on having a perfect game,” Clark said. “I started to focus on what I could do to make myself better than I did.”

This mindset trickled down to the rest of the team. 

“I admire how hard Addie works and I think the way she switched her mindset from perfectionist to being progressive is something that I want to try and embrace more,” Perkins said. 

Clark had help from her former foe turned coach, Azure Fernsler. They faced off against one another for multiple years as Fernsler was goalie for conference rival Kent State, where she was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2021. 

Despite being rivals, Fernsler and the goalies cliqued instantly. 

“It was really neat how they welcomed me into their little goalie group,” Fernsler said. “I am very thankful to work with them.” 

Fernsler made it a point during the season to coach Clark based on her unique style. 

“Each goalie has their own style. My approach was to build a relationship of trust and respect,” Fernsler said.

The two were able to build this relationship as they are both well respected goalkeepers in their own right. 

Fernsler implemented this respect into her coaching style. 

“I wanted to honor the years she’s put in, but I think giving her different suggestions and having her implement those things, and if they worked for her style then she would continue using them,” Fernsler said. 

Clark described having an experienced coach causing her to incorporate some of Fernsler’s style without making it a key training point.

Clark meets with the rest of the team during a break against Davidson Sept. 3, 2023. (Courtesy of App State Athletics)

“I absolutely incorporated aspects of her style but not intentionally,” Clark said. “You kind of just pick up aspects of each other’s play as you learn from one another and play against one another.” 

The success of the season could not be sweet without bitterness. 

“We had a lot of adversity in terms of having 13 away games,” Clark said. “We started off our first loss of the season with a pretty tough one. It was a 3-0 loss against Drexel, which is a team we were expecting to hang with. Coming off those types of losses and having to work through our team chemistry make it even more special.” 

Despite this early-season loss, the team rallied the rest of the season. 

Clark was not only a tremendous player for the Mountaineers, but was seen as an outstanding leader. 

“I think Addie is a great leader and has shaped the defense and helped the defense grow because of the experience she has,” Perkins said. “Being a leader on and off the field is absolutely crucial.” 

Clark’s communication and leadership was a crucial aspect of the successful strong Mountaineer defense. 

The Black and Gold had a historic nine-game win streak during the middle of the season. Fernsler and Clark focused on staying in the moment during this time and not getting wrapped up in the success. 

During the win streak, Clark was a part of the program’s first win against a top-10 opponent when the Mountaineers upset No. 8 Louisville Oct. 22. Clark saved 12 shots and allowed two goals in the shootout period to propel the Black and Gold to victory. 

“To see all her hardwork and her dedication pay off was the coolest thing because she stepped up huge in that game,” Fernsler said. 

Before the game against the Cardinals, the goalie unit focused on shootouts, which proved to be time well spent. 

App State went on to finish the season with a 14-5 record and 6-1 in the MAC. The season came to an end in the first round of the conference tournament when the Mountaineers fell to the Golden Flashes, 2-3. 

The rest of the team is going to miss having Clark in their corner. 

“Addie has made such an impact on all of us as players, and I think we can continue to carry on her attitude,” Perkins said. 

While Clark’s career at App State has come to an end, Clark is happy with the way her career finished. 

“I have ended my career in a way that was evident of an upward trajectory,” Clark said. “I feel very proud of what the group was able to accomplish.”

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About the Contributor
Max Schwanz, Reporter
Max Schwanz (he/him) is a freshman journalism major, business minor, from Cornelius, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
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  • R

    Ray FernNov 28, 2023 at 8:39 am

    Congrats to her on great season. And the author, Max, captured the fighting spirit of the whole team extremely well.
    Great read!

    Reply