NEW YORK – Columbia field hockey head coach Caroline Nelson-Nichols has announced five incoming student-athletes that will comprise the Class of 2021. The Lions will welcome goalkeeper Alexa Conomikes, forward Meghan Fahey and midfielders Grace Payne, Kelsey Farkas and Emily Pedrick.
“This is actually our coaching staff's first recruiting class that we've been involved with from the start,” Nelson-Nichols said. “It's our first chance to put a stamp on the type of student-athletes we are bringing into Columbia. They are all very hockey-minded, have strong foundations fundamentally and will push this program to be better. Overall, this group is really hungry. They want to come in and compete for championships.”
Conomikes joins Columbia from Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh where she was a four-year letterwinner in field hockey and lacrosse. She competed at the National Futures Championship three times, earning a gold medal in 2012 and silver in 2013. With Shady Side, Conomikes was an All-WPIAL All-Area honoree in 2015-16 and was named team MVP as a junior. She also played club with South Jersey Edge, winning a National Hockey Pool Z Championship in 2014, and Gold Triangle Field Hockey from 2014-2016 where she was a three-time captain and qualified for the NIT in 2015 and 2016.
“Alexa is a highly-rated goalkeeper that is very energetic and athletic,” said Nelson-Nichols. “She is someone that is going to bring a nice energy to our team. It will also be a nice pairing with our returning goalie, Katie Dempsey. Having those two working together is going to drive both of them to become better.”
Fahey is a four-time state, section and region champion with Lakeland High School in Westchester County, New York. She earned All-Region All-America honors as a senior as well as all-state, all-elite, all-section and all-league accolades. Fahey registered 30 goals and added six assists in 22 games played in 2016. As a junior, she was named all-section and all-league after scoring 28 goals to go with eight assists. Fahey also competed with the Hudson Valley Field Hockey Club.
“Meghan's going to bring a unique spark to the team,” Nelson-Nichols commented. “She comes from a traditionally strong program at Lakeland and understands what it means to compete for championships. Meghan is a fiesty, competitive player who is looking to score at any opportunity.”
Farkas is a product of Merion Mercy Academy in the Philadelphia area. A four-year varsity letterwinner in field hockey, Farkas was PhilaFieldHockey.com Senior All-Star, Pennsylvania First Team All-State, All-Main Line and Catholic Academy League All-Star selection following her senior year. The two-time team MVP posted 13 goals, four assists and five defensive saves on her way to claiming a District One Championship and a runner-up finish in the Pennsylvania AA State tournament. Farkas competed at the U19 National Futures Championship Selection – Region 5 and earned a second place finish with Team Athens at 2016 National Futures Championships. Farkas also played club with Mystx Field Hockey.
“From what I have seen, Kelsey's ability to read the game is going to make her a strong midfield player for us,” Nelson-Nichols said. “She is fundamentally sound and brings a nice game understanding.”
A soon-to-be graduate of Lake Forest High School outside of Chicago, Payne earned three varsity letters in field hockey and two in lacrosse. She is coming off a stellar senior season where she earned all-state and all-conference honors. Payne netted a hat trick in state semifinals and assisted on game-winning goal in the final two minutes to help Lake Forest win the 2016 Illinois State Championship. Her team also earned runner-up (2014) and third place (2015) state finishes. Payne participated in National Futures Championship from 2013-15 and played for Windy City Field Hockey Club, placing sixth at the national club championships
“Grace played for Katie Beach, a former coach here at Columbia, who has done some amazing things with that program,” stated Nelson-Nichols. “We see her as a someone who can do some good things for us as an outside midfielder. She works really well in open space and is a good decision-maker.”
Pedrick is coming off her second straight All-Southwest Prepatory Conference team selection with St. John's School in Houston, Texas. She was a part of two Southwest Preparatory Conference Championships and competed with Texas Pride Field Hockey Club. Pedrick also played varsity soccer for one year in 2014 and competed with track & field squad for three years.
“Emily is going to be a valuable connecting piece in our midfield,” said Nelson-Nichols. “Texas is one of the new up and coming regions and she plays for a very strong club program, which has helped build a strong foundation for her game. I believe Emily will do some nice things here.”