In news that will surprise only those who haven’t watched them, Debi-Michelle Jantzen and Abby Beltrani have again been chosen for the USA Field Hockey junior national teams. This time, in age brackets above their own.
Aww, they grow up so fast.
Tryouts were held from July 12-15 at Old Dominion University. Jantzen, 17, who is entering her senior year at Shoreham-Wading River, was selected to the Under-19 team and Beltrani, 18, who graduated Ward Melville this summer, will join the Under-21 group. Janzten and Beltrani are one of only two New York natives on their respective teams. Beltrani is joined by Marta Malmberg of Marathon, a sophomore at UNC, and Jantzen teams with Emma Bozek, a senior at Lakeland.
Both players, midfielders, were on the U-17 team that took bronze in the 2010 Pan-American Games. Jantzen was on that team again this spring and helped lead them to a 6-2 mark in the DOMO International Easter Tournament in Holland. Beltrani’s U-19 squad traveled to Chile in April and went 3-0-1 against their national team.
(Note: Players aren’t automatically granted roster spots because they’ve been part of the team before; they must try out for each series of competitions. The country’s top young players compete as the teams are pared down to 26, and eventually 18.)
“It’s a great feeling,” Jantzen, in May, said of competing and succeeding at such a level. “I’ve learned so much just from being in that atmosphere. I feel like I’ve gained a much better understanding of the game.”
Which isn’t good news for the Wildcats’ opponents this season. Jantzen, an All-American, had a Long Island-high 42 points and led SWR to a fourth straight Class B Suffolk championship last year.
Class A can exhale a bit, though, as Beltrani will be playing for Duke this fall. A two-time All-American and Newsday’s 2010 Player of the Year, Beltrani had earned another spot on the U-19 team but was also asked to try out with the U-21 candidates and she made the cut for that, too. Ballin’ like a grown-up.
She said it’s the mental part of her game that has improved most since training with the national teams.
“My field vision is better,” said Beltrani, who wrapped up her high school career with a fourth straight Long Island championship. “Even before I get the ball – they call it pre-scanning – anticipating your next move, knowing where you want to go and what to do if you do get it. And my passing game has improved a lot.”
Members of the junior national teams (U-17, 19 and 21) will be invited to practice at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Ca. in early 2012 – as they did last winter – before beginning international competition next spring and summer.