Echo Bretz's love of field hockey help open plenty of doors for her.

Her love of "family" help her decide which one to walk through.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bretz signed a Letter of Intent to continue her academic and athletic career at the University at Albany

Bretz joined Lehighton High School classmate and teammate Jordyn Homyak in commiting to the Division I Great Danes program.

When they get to Albany, they'll find a couple of familair faces.

Bretz and Homyak will join fellow Lehighton graduates Corrine McConville (Class of 2010) and Kristi Troch (Class of 2009) as members of the Great Danes this fall. It's a pipeline that started four years ago when Alysia Hough and Chelsea Neff took their field hockey skills from Lehighton to the New York-based college. Two years later Troch followed suit, and then McConville decided to go there last year.

"From the time I started playing field hockey, one of my goals was to someday play at the collegiate level," said Bretz, this year's TIMES NEWS Field Hockey Player of the Year. "Lehighton has such a great tradition in field hockey and of getting players away to play at the next level. I wanted to be part of that. That tradition really pushed me to work hard at the game I love so much.

"Then when the opportunity came to go to Albany and play with some of my former Lehighton teammates, I knew that's what I wanted to do."

Bretz, a 2010 First-Team All-Area, All-League, All-State field hockey player, also looked at the University of Louisville, Indiana University, The University of Connecticut, James Madison University and Old Dominion University. But it was thought of having so many familair faces at Albany to ease the transition from high school to college that helped her finlaize the decision.

"I mean when Corrine (McConville) was here, her, Jordyn and I experienced a state championship together. When Kristi (Troch) was here, we made into the state playoffs. So, just knowing that we play so well together help me decide Albany was right for me," said Bretz. "Everyone's goal into college field hockey is to bring home that NCAA championship and hopefully when we all work together, we'll be able to bring that home to Albany."

Lehighton coach Shawn Hindy was excited to see two more of his players take their talents to a place he jokingly referred to as "Lehighton University."

"I know they will be in good hands there," Hindy said. "And, that's one of the things I look for I want to make sure they're going to be taken care of the way I think they should be taken care of. It is really cool to see.

"I mean the coaches head coach Phil Sykes and associate head coach Andy Thorton up there do a good job. They know, and I think more and more people know, that Lehighton field hockey is a good place to get great players. They're going to do great things up there."

Bretz is ready to be part of those great things.

"It's hard going into your freshman year not knowing anyone," she said. "So having someone there, you already start off with a few friends. People go up there with no friends, so we already have that little backbone of support we need. Plus, there are two male coaches and they're just like coach Hindy. They coach the same way and they have the same tactics.

"Just the fact that I know there is a Lehighton family up there already and I know how much they enjoy it and how much they said it was just like high school. Yeah, it's fun getting big schools looking at you, but I wanted to be able to move on and enjoy my field hockey season. I didn't want to be just another statistics on the team. I wanted to be able to go up there and be able to play and enjoy the time that I have with people I love."