Sports

McSweeney ’11 Makes US Field Hockey Team

On October 29th, Andover Field Hockey Goalkeeper Shannon McSweeney ’11 learned that she had been selected to the Under-19 National Field Hockey Squad. “I froze, I didn’t believe it. I was crying,” said McSweeney on when she found out. Shannon is one of three goalies chosen for the squad. The group consists of 23 players, and will be reduced to 17 following a training session in February. The training session will take place in Chula Vista, California, and one of the three goalies will be cut from the team. “I’m completely excited to go [to the training session], but at the same time pretty nervous,” commented McSweeney, “The other two goalies are older than me and are really strong competition.” This upcoming March, the remaining seventeen players will travel to Argentina to represent the U19 National Field Hockey Team. McSweeney first heard the news from Coach Kate Dolan. Coach Dolan visited McSweeney’s dorm, having received word from McSweeney’s parents that she had been selected for the squad. “I was completely bowled over by the McSweeney’s gesture, and at the same time, I was so proud of her. I was extremely moved and touched by their consideration and I was dying to tell Shannon,” recalled Coach Dolan. “It was so special coming from Coach Dolan,” said McSweeney. “She’s been there for me and supported me from the first time I stepped on the field at Andover.” McSweeney’s selection was the product of a nearly year long process of tryouts, tournaments, and training. The process began in November 2008, when McSweeney competed at the Indoor National Field Hockey Championships in Virgina Beach, Virginia. McSweeney has attended the tournament for the past three years, but it was not until last year that she was chosen to participate in a Junior National Training Camp. The training camp took place this past July at Babson College in Massachusetts. The weeklong event put McSweeney up against three other goalies in her U16 age group, and against another four in the U19 age group. The camp focused on Olympic-style play, particularly on defense. “The new style of anticipation defense as opposed to player-to-player coverage was hard to get used to at first, but it was a lot more sophisticated and effective,” commented McSweeney. The squad was selected after this week of training, a process that took nearly three months to complete. While at the camp, McSweeney was vying for a spot on the U16 Squad. However, to McSweeney’s own surprise, she was placed on the U19 Squad. “It feels good to have the satisfaction of knowing that I did it,” said McSweeney. Dolan also recognized the tremendous success that McSweeney has experienced in her three years at Andover. “Shannon was good when she arrived at Andover. As a ninth grader, she was our starting goalie, which is very rare. Yet in her first game, she earned a shutout and made at least 15 saves, several of them on breakaways,” she said. Dolan continued, “Since then, she has worked very, very hard to improve in all areas of her goalkeeping – and for her to receive this honor is just tremendous.” McSweeney’s success at Andover has continued this season, securing an incredible seven shutouts in ten games. While McSweeney admitted her excitement for her upcoming experiences, she also emphasized that her focus lies elsewhere now, namely on the end of the season. After the Andover season concludes, McSweeney will continue to maintain her fitness level while working on drills to improve her goalie skills. She also plans to continue playing with her club team outside of school, all in preparation for the February training session. McSweeney commented on her selection, “The most exciting part of the whole thing is that I proved myself wrong: I never expected to make it, and I am just so thrilled about this opportunity.”