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Agnes Irwin’s Big Turnaround

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There were six of them—freshmen who knew things had to change. And they were willing to work to make that happen. Really work, because “Coach Duck” wasn’t going to make it easy. 

Two wins. That was Agnes Irwin’s total success in 2012. When Sarah Platt, Hannah Keating and their four fellow frosh reached the varsity—the same year Jenny Duckenfield took over the AIS program—it was time for a change. “It was a pretty rough road for the team the year before we came,” says Platt. “It was really bad. Coming in, the six of us knew we had to step up and lead. That made us good leaders today, on and off the field. Duck changed the whole culture. It’s fun, but it’s hard.”

Platt was a member of the U.S. Under-19 team that earned a silver medal in the 2015 world championships. She’ll head to the University of Virginia in the fall but has her focus squarely on the Owls’ 2016 season. She’ll need to be at her peak, since Keating, a Harvard University commit who scored 102 goals last year, tore her ACL playing soccer in August and won’t be available until May.     

The Owls were 23-1 last year and won their first Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament title, a tribute to the leadership of the six juniors (the others are Laura Pansini, Kate White, Emily Fryer and Kristin Burnetta), Duckenfield’s relentless commitment to success, and a group of younger players who’ve also learned what’s necessary to win. “Freshman and sophomore years, when we lost, we needed to learn how to build off of it,” Keating says. “We did that, and last year, if we got behind in a game, we fell back on what we had learned before.”

Jenny Duckenfield