Eileen Allan Wins PCT Title #15 as Head Coach of Pompton Lakes Field Hockey

Photo courtesy of Eileen Allan

 

By Steve Sears

The Pompton Lakes High School field hockey team in October won for head coach Eileen Allan her fifteenth Passaic County Tournament title. 

But there had been an eleven-year drought. “We went on a dry run,” says Allan. “Not that we didn’t get into the finals. We may have made it, but we just couldn’t bring home the hardware.”

This being said, there has been “hardware” by the truckload for the Cardinal coach and her teams. Allan, 60, has been coaching Pompton Lakes field hockey for 37 years, she returning to her alma mater and the helm spot right after her college career at East Stroudsburg University. During her tenure, the Cardinals have won eleven state sectional titles, a Group II championship in 1999, and yes, those fifteen PCT crowns. 

That’s pretty impressive, and so was the 2021 squad. “This year’s team,” Allan says, “had twelve seniors on it. We worked so hard in the offseason. In the summer, we were in the weight room every morning at 7 a.m. We did a camp that we had run at our school, and we also did a traveling week in the summer. So, these girls really wanted it. And then we had a great addition of one of my former players, Rebecca (Lilenthal), whose daughter is my freshman. She made the Junior Olympics team, and she just brought a lot of spark to our program.” Krista Lilenthal finished with 43 goals this season and 13 assists. “I coached her mom,” Allan says, “so now it’s nice to have her daughter playing for me.”

During Allan’s first season in 1984, Pompton Lakes won just one contest, and the program was a struggling one. “We weren’t even sure that they were going to keep field hockey,” Allan recalls. “But my principal gave me the opportunity to try to build, and each year we just kept getting better and better. And you know, we had some downfalls over the years, but for the most part the kids, when they play, they put in their dedication and hard work. They believe in the program, they believe in my coaches, and I’ve been very fortunate to have exceptional athletes that want to be part of a program. And I’ve been fortunate to have great assistant coaches as well.”

The 1999 team may have been her best. Goalie Kim Bush sealed the nets, yielding only eight goals for the season, and Megan Moyle was another star performer for the club. “I think back to that team,” Allan says of the 17-1-2 club. “We didn’t have a lot of skill, but we had heart more than anything. We upset the West Essex and Madison teams, so to get there was a tough road but, again, they just had a lot of heart.”

After their PCT success, Pompton Lakes lost in this year’s state playoffs, and for Allen there was a touch of sadness. “I think the hardest part about losing is not seeing them every day, and just being around them, because it was just a lot of fun,” she says of the 2021 season.

Allan is now planning for the 2022 ledger, and she also doesn’t plan on stepping down anytime soon. “I still love it,” she says. “I just love being around the kids. They keep me young, and I just enjoy the sport itself as well. It’s changed so much over the years, but my players, they’re like my own daughters.” 

She pauses, then adds, “It’s not about me, it’s about the kids. And that’s how I would always want to be remembered.”

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