Filling gaps in the lineup
Mascenic field hockey vs. Monadnock Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
ConVal field hockey vs. Souhegan
(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
mascenic field hockey v conant Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
Last year turned out to be a good regular season for the local field hockey teams, as each one advanced to postseason play.
But not one got past the first round and the goal for this season is to see that outcome change.
While there are plenty of spots on the field for each team to fill, there is confidence that it will be another good season.
The Orioles made the Division III tournament last year for the first time since 2009, but saw the 2012 season come to an end in a 1-0 overtime loss in the prelims.
With the loss of four seniors and three others who did not return, Conant will be looking to fill a number of positions prior to Tuesday’s season opener, but coach Leigh Webb is confident in the group she has.
“I’m impressed so far,” said Webb. “We’ve got some work to do, but I always have hope. I love to see their work ethic.”
The third-year coach has six seniors with a lot of game experience to go along with a nice mix of juniors and sophomores, many who saw significant time a year ago. Webb has a good core to build around and believes this team can take another run at the postseason.
“I’m confident we can fill [the positions],” said Webb. “It’s just a matter of what game will it click.”
Seniors Kaleigh Johnson and Heather Bilodeau return to the midfield line and provide Webb with a strong core that will help on both offense and defense.
On defense, seniors Hannah Duncan and Wendy Kaufmann provide leadership and experience in front of sophomore goalie Sarah Gonsalves. Gonsalves took over the position as a freshman and shined down the stretch of Conant’s run to the playoffs.
Senior forward Jess Sorby is the top returning goal scorer and will team with sophomore Rebecca Boutwell on the forward line.
Sophomore Autumn Lewis will help in the midfield, while classmate Alex Dunn fits in with the defensive unit.
The Cougars will look much different from a year ago after the loss of five seniors and three other players.
Longtime coach Carrie Whittemore has experience coming back in some key positions, but she is also looking to move players around in order to make the entire field as strong as possible.
ConVal is coming off its third straight trip to the postseason and despite the large amount of turnover, Whittemore expects to challenge for one of the 12 Division II spots.
“We are going to miss the girls that left, but already the girls are stepping up,” said Whittemore. “If we can be a .500 team and make the tournament I’d be happy.”
Whittemore is fully aware that it will take some time for this group to feel comfortable playing as a unit. It is only natural when losing so many players.
“It will sort out more as time goes on,” said Whittemore.
The losses of Lauren Mackey and Maxine Dunn from the midfield line — both are playing college field hockey this fall — will be greatly felt.
“I basically lost my entire midfield line,” said Whittemore. “We’re really trying to rebuild it.”
Senior Casey Kania, sophomore Reilly McCarty along with juniors Sarah Dugas and Megan Stanley will slide into the midfield roles. Kania, Dugas and Stanley could also see time on defense.
“I’m trying to work with them to be a little more flexible with positioning,” said Whittemore.
Junior Dominique Tarr returns to the goalie position after a strong first year as the starter.
The forward line has quite a bit of experience with seniors Taylor Boyd, Ashlynn Wing and Jamie Bergeron, as all played varsity last year.
The defense will be anchored by senior Cassie Daisy and juniors Danielle Sell and Leila Humphrey and sophomore Sasha Brock.
For the first time in 27 years, Mascenic will enter a season without Terry Galley at the helm.
Galley was not retained after last year and Selena Shaw, who played for Galley at Mascenic and went on to play at UNH, takes over in her first head coaching job.
And Shaw will have her work cut out for her with a very young team.
The Vikings have just four seniors to go along with one junior, four sophomores and six freshmen.
“I’m hoping the younger players can catch up quick,” said Shaw.
Mascenic earned the final playoff spot in Division III last year and lost to eventual champion Derryfield in the opening round. Despite the lack of varsity experience, Shaw believes Mascenic can make another run at the postseason.
“I see us making the playoffs this year. That’s definitely one of our goals,” said Shaw.
The seniors will be spread out across the field to provide leadership in crucial positions.
“They’re going to be down the middle so they can control things,” said Shaw.
Kaylee Bertam will return to the forward line, while Shelby Bertam is going to anchor the midfield from the center position.
Mariah Somero is the Vikings’ center back and Valerie Thibeau will play sweeper. Junior Victoria Salmonson will play on the right side of the defense.
“We have a lot of experience in the backfield,” said Shaw. “We’re definitely going to be strong on the defensive end.”
Sophomore forward Morgan Zina will look to improve upon a strong freshman campaign and will be joined by classmate Mackenzie Whitehouse.
Sophomore Gianna Cialdea and freshman Mindy Krook are competing for the goalie position vacated by all-state senior Brenna Pasieka.