Capping off a perfect 17-0 season highlighted by only allowing five goals this fall, Andover Varsity Field Hockey defeated Greenwich Academy — the team that ended Andover’s season in the finals last year — and Hotchkiss to become Nepsac champions for the third time in the past four years.
Head Coach Kate Dolan wrote, in an email to The Phillipian, “Beyond the statistics, it was more how this team never really got rattled or flustered. Yes, there were moments in games and practices that were less than perfect and frustrating but the girls always found a way to overcome them, regroup and refocus. The [Noble and Greenough] game, when we found ourselves down for the first time all season, was a pivotal game for us in that it enabled the girls to know that they could come back and win, even after trailing. It enabled them to find in themselves a deeper resolve and drive.”
“Last year, we went into playoffs with one loss, so it was weird, I guess, that we had never lost. I feel like every team loses at least once. It’s always a learning experience, we had never had that, so it was crazy… It’s really hard to win 17 games in a row, so we were all kind of nervous, but also confident,” said Carly Kreytak ’20.
Andover trained indoors for its games against Greenwich and Hotchkiss due to the cold weather, according to Dolan.
“The practices were not our typical practices but in many ways that reflected the ‘roll with the punches’ nature of this team — whatever came their way: bad weather, fierce opponents, or tough calls, the girls simply adjusted and focused on what they could control,” wrote Dolan.
In Andover’s semifinal matchup, Greenwich scored the first goal of the game, which rattled the team, according to Kreytak. Andover, however, used its halftime wisely, strategizing for the second half and scoring two consecutive goals to gain an advantage, according to Kreytak.
“In the first half, we were kind of frazzled. They scored on us, and we just weren’t ready for how quick they were going to be because we never played their team team — Greenwich is really fast and they get a bunch of goals off of tip-ins, they pass the ball a lot — so it hit us hard in the beginning when they scored, but then in the second half, we kept cool and controlled the game. We passed and used each other on the field, and I think that’s what led us to winning,” said Kreytak.
Captain Meghan Ward ’19 added, “We didn’t necessarily play to defend our lead, but we held back a little bit and made sure we made smart decisions for the rest of the game… Our defense played really strong in the second half after the first half of kind of them controlling the game, we just took over and they were great, and that included Katie Wimmer [’21], who was fantastic, per usual… she saved a breakaway, which was a huge save in the game.”
Andover drove to Choate the following day to compete against Hotchkiss in the championship. According to Wimmer, it was difficult to play back-to-back games; nonetheless, the team was able to secure the victory.
“We had to go to Tabor for the semis and Choate for the finals. I think it was [challenging to be playing back-to-back games] because we were tired from the semifinal game because it was a really hard game, and then having to drive to Choate wasn’t really the best thing, but I think once we got there, we were ready to play,” said Wimmer.
Andover scored the first goal of the game, but Hotchkiss followed to leave the game at a 1-1 standstill at the half. With little time left in the second half, Andover ran a new corner play to bring the score to 2-1 and secure the championship victory.
Coach Dolan wrote, “Our ‘fancy’ corner, which involved five different players all executing their role to perfection… It strikes me as the truest and best testament to this team and its sense of teamwork that the winning goal, the championship goal, took five teammates all in sync, all doing their jobs unselfishly and perfectly for one another.”
For some of the leaders of this championship team, this season was a special one.
Ward said, “It still feels a bit surreal. I think, every single year, after my [Junior] year when we won, we were like, ‘I don’t know if we are going to be able to do that again. We lost so many good Seniors. We’re not going to be as good next year.’ And then we won again, and we were like, ‘Well, we’re not going to be as good next year.’ And then we made it to the finals and we were like, ‘I don’t know what is going to happen next year.’ And so every year you look at it like, ‘No team could be better than this,’ but then we ended up still having the same amount of success, just in different ways.”
Dolan added, “Honestly, I am not sure how you can improve on 17-0, five goals against all season, a Nepsac championship and most importantly, a team of genuinely selfless, dedicated, and fearless individuals who have left indelible impressions on our hearts.”