During the second round of the shootout against Westminster in the finals of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Class A Championship, Jacqueline Diffley ’16 deftly slotted the ball into the back of the net to put Andover Field Hockey (PAFH) in the lead 2-1. Goalie Olivia Golini ’16 then made a diving save to clinch the victory for Andover, which won its first Class A Championship since 1993.
Head Coach Kate Dolan said, “Winning is very hard – obviously the gap in time from 1993 to 2015 shows championships are not easily had. Winning takes so many things going well for you: You need poise and composure, and you need a relentless willingness to compete and prevail. A lot of factors just have to go your way to win.”
Last year, the team lost in the first round of the playoffs despite being the undefeated first seed. This year, Andover started its post-season as the third seed and grinded out a 1-0 win over Nobles in the quarterfinals.
Ashley Tucker ’18 said, “After we won the first game against Nobles, we knew that this was our season. It had been a couple years since [Andover] had made it past the first round of playoffs, so that was huge for us.”
In its semifinal game against Greenwich Academy, Andover went into three overtimes before ending the game with a shootout to earn a 3-2 win. The team then faced Westminster in the championship round and ultimately went into two overtimes, followed by two rounds of shootouts. Andover’s fierce tenacity and hunger for the championship trophy propelled it to its 2-1 victory.
Captain Kelly McCarthy ’16 said, “The championship game was a battle through and through. Both teams fought hard, but we were really able to dig deep, bear down, and get the job done. We went into the game with the mindset that we would do whatever it would take to win.”
Lauren Overly ’17 added, “We had a determined energy that couldn’t be stopped. We saw sight of winning the championship and would not settle for less.”
Andover’s ability to play as a team greatly contributed to its success.
Diffley said, “I think what ultimately led to our success in winning the championship was how well our team demonstrated the word ‘together.’ I’ve never been on a team that felt so connected as this one did.”
“PAFH 2015 truly played and lived together, and that led us to becoming NEPSAC Champions. Every single individual was so important to our success,” added Kelly McCarthy.
The team’s grit and determination were also crucial factors in its victory. Andover worked tirelessly throughout the season and pushed itself never to give up until it came out on top in the playoffs.
Jackie McCarthy ’19 said, “Everyone poured their hearts out every second of every post-season game. The players on the field ran harder and faster than anyone thought they could. The players on the sidelines cheered harder and louder than anyone thought they could. The coaches pushed the team harder and stronger than anyone thought they could. Our effort kept the fire burning.”
When asked about key players on the team, no one hesitated before raving about the team’s goalie, Golini, who was named Most Valuable Player of the NEPSAC Championship at the end of the season. Golini proved to be a defensive phenom at all times, not only in every regulation game but also in the multiple overtimes and shootouts Andover was faced with in the playoffs.
Charlotte Welch ’18 said, “Olivia’s outstanding play, especially in the semifinal and final games, kept us alive and won us the shootouts. On the field, we could always count on her to make a key save when we needed it most.”
“Once we got past double overtime and into the shootouts, although we were still very anxious, we knew that we had a secret weapon: Olivia. She is the most amazing goalie, and her skills were crucial to our wins in shootouts,” added Overly.
Kelly McCarthy also proved to be a key player in Andover’s defensive line, as she stepped up as a leader to do everything she could to help her team capture the victory.
Welch said, “Throughout the entire postseason, Kelly’s leadership on and off the field was what really pushed us to success. The composure she showed kept the team collected and focused.”
Behind all the team’s success were its coaches, Coach Dolan and Assistant Coach Martha Fenton. They inspired the girls to reach for the championship title and brought constant support and leadership to the team.
Beth Krikorian ’17 said, “[Coach Dolan] and [Coach Fenton] wanted this championship so badly. They deserved it so much, and throughout the playoffs we all knew that this was for them more than anyone. It goes to show how much of an impact they have on all of us.”
“It was an incredible team and we were fortunate to have the dream ending. Martha and I could not have been happier for this group to experience such a perfect ending,” said Dolan.