Concord field hockey to try something new
Concord High’s field hockey team is taking on a new slant this season … both on the field and the field itself.
The first thing you notice when approaching Rollins Park is the field’s orientation, slanted more through center field of the baseball and softball outfields than in years past. The next thing you notice is the chatter, more communication between the Tide’s closer-knit offensive players. It’s something that Concord hopes slants the goal-scoring numbers sharply uphill.
“The forward line is all returning. That’s something that has been working well,” Concord Coach Steph Johnson said. “The ones returning have been playing together for a full season at the very least, they have more experience playing together, knowing how each other plays. Even the new additions to the forward group have been received well; they’re creating a cohesive unit.”
Last year, Concord managed just five goals all season, being shut out in 11 of 14 games to finish a disappointing 2-12 and out of the postseason. But that is in the past. Every player involved in those goals returns, a year older and a year hungrier.
“Last year was the first year a lot of us were together and we were a young team,” said Grace Orzechowski, a midfielder and one of the Tide’s senior tri-captains. “Everything was new and we were learning the skills. This year we know how to use those skills as a whole.”
“We had to learn to be hungry for the ball,” added Chelsey Jobin, another tri-captain.
Sophomore Steph Resnick and junior Sarah Ek scored two goals apiece last year, and while Ek has moved back to the defensive end to bolster a young crop of players there, Resnick returns up front along with Jobin, senior Ingrid Burghard (one goal) and junior Kaleigh Otto. They’ll be joined by newcomers Kaela Nickodem, a junior, and freshman Lauren Mullen.
The midfield is loaded with veterans as well, with Orzechowski and Molly Waite, the third of the captains, joining junior Ari McLeod as the returners, with freshman Becca Proulx joining the mix.
“They’re used to playing with each other, working with the same forwards, so it’s one less thing to have to work on in the beginning of the season,” Johnson said of her experienced transition unit.
The defensive end is where the Tide is the greenest, with senior Katharine Tebbetts the lone returner from last year’s unit. But Ek has made a seemingly seamless transition from forward to defense, and junior Brittany Munnell, who played a few varsity games last year, will be a mainstay as well. The newest members of the backfield are sophomore Abby Whimpey and classmate Colleen Casey, last year’s JV goalie who takes over in the varsity cages.
“We should have more competitive games. And when you’re more into the games, you go after the ball more. We’re always pressing,” Waite said. “We want to be the best we can be, especially being our senior year.”
“We want it for all the girls,” Jobin said. “We want to leave the game knowing we left everything out there.”
The attitude is there, the desire is there, all that’s left is to see whether the new slants translate into a return to the postseason after a year away.
“Making playoffs is a must,” Johnson said. “We’ll take it one game at a time and give everything we have.”
(Sandy Smith can be reached at 369-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)