After faltering at the tail-end of an otherwise impressive 11-win season, Andover Field Hockey returns to the field hungry for greater success this fall.
“In 2013, we started the season 10-1-1, but then we seemed to stumble a bit down the stretch and lost three of our last four games, including Nobles & Greenough, Exeter and our first-round playoff game against Westminster, so it was a disappointing ending to what started out as an excellent season,” said Head Coach Kate Dolan.
Players admit that complacency set in once the team got off to a hot start. Having a virtual lock on the playoffs, Andover did not live up to its full potential for the latter half of the season.
“We lost to Exeter because we were too confident about our standing in playoffs, and we lost in the first round of playoffs,” said Lila Dolan ’15. “I think as a whole, we all use those setbacks as motivators for the next year.”
Boasting 15 returners, Andover’s roster displays no lack of leadership and talent on this Andover’s roster. The team does not view the losses of its five graduates as a setback; rather, it embraces the coming changes.
“We lost some of our defense this year, so we will need a few of our midfield players or new players on the team to fill in those gaps. Many of our midfielders are capable of playing defense, so I’m confident that we will be able to create a strong defensive line,” said Captain Evagelia Toffoloni ’15.
Out of its 21 members, the team has 11 Seniors and six newcomers. During the preseason, the coaches focused on the on-field dynamic between veterans and newcomers.
“We have a large contingent of returning players, coupled with a talented group of newcomers. We are hoping that, with time and effort, we gel into a top-notch team,” said Kate Dolan.
Among the new players are starting goalie Haley Silva ’15 and Ashley Tucker ’18.
“The coaches are working with them to make sure they’re comfortable, and [Tucker] has improved a lot just from the beginning of the season,” said Lexi Davidson ’17.
Having learned a valuable lesson last season, the team looks to finally get that breakthrough year.
“One of our definite goals is to make it into the playoffs and hopefully go all the way. The past three years I have been on the team, we have made it into the quarterfinals but have not been able to proceed any further,” said Toffoloni.
The team took its first step towards a successful season by shutting out Tilton in a scrimmage this Wednesday.
“We all connected on the field. With many people never having played together before, that was a concern before the game,” said Kelly McCarthy ’16.
As always, the scrimmage exposed areas that needed improvement. Andover gave away many offensive corners that could prove crucial against tough opponents.
Andover will square off against Thayer Academy on Saturday, looking to repeat the quick start it got off to last season.