Bouncing back from a tough loss in a scrimmage against Belmont Hill last week, the team headed into its first matchup with excitement and determination to start the regular season off on a strong note, according to Co-Captain Troy Pollock ’21 and Ben Garozzo ’23.
Pollock said, “We wanted to excel on all different aspects of our game. I think we had the potential, and I think we have the potential every game to really go out there and exceed the expectations. We really wanted to beat [Cushing] good coming off the loss that we had last week and show our friends and family all the work we’ve put in.”
“We were excited, it was our first regular season game. It was actually [Head] Coach [James] Beaudoin’s first ever game at Andover which was exciting. We always have high expectations that we’re going to win because you just have to stay confident like that, but we never have too high expectations because we don’t want to sleep on a team that could be very good,” added Garozzo.
During this past week of practice, the team worked on fixing the mistakes prevalent in its scrimmage against Belmont Hill last week. According to Coach Beaudoin and Garozzo, attempting for more swift transitions and faster breaks were key factors towards the team’s success against Cushing.
Coach Beaudoin said, “We really worked on transitions, trying to basically get the ball from when our goalie makes a save or when we steal the ball to go down to the offensive end and try to make that quick. I think that was probably our strength against Cushing was the ball; I think the statistics that I saw on our Hudl were that we were clearing it over 80 percent for the game, which is a really great percentage… and it translated to at least a third of the goals [we scored.] ”
“I think we did really work on fast breaks [in practice], which was something I was really happy about because we ended up performing really well in those since that’s something we really struggled on in the Belmont Hill game. We also worked on clearing which is something we were better at in this regular season game,” added Garozzo.
While the team continues to adjust to each other’s playing styles, multiple individual efforts stood out on both the offensive and defensive fronts, according to Pollock.
Pollock said, “[Charlie Ferguson ’23] had a couple really fancy behind the back goals which were really fun to see. Great confidence from a young player, and he’s stepping into his role which is awesome. On the defensive end, [Co-Captain Will Rickards ’21] played great, our goalie. Overall, all four of our d-poles played great team defense but also individual takeaways. So [Co-Captain Jayme Wilde ’21,] [Preston Whitehurst ’22,] Aidan Fenton, and [Aidan Reidy ’21.]”
Even though the athletes faced some challenges throughout the game against a chippy Cushing team, the team managed to adapt, according to Coach Beaudoin.
“I think it was a very physical game… But we still have to temper that with penalties and making sure that we’re adhering to our high standards of how we’re supposed to act. But towards the end of the game, I was happy with how the players were reacting to the coaching of [Coach Kate Dolan,] [Coach Martha Fenton ’83,] and myself. So I think every game has challenges, but when we called timeouts and talked about what we would like to see changed, [the players] were really receptive of that which was extremely positive for this early in the season,” said Coach Beaudoin.
Moving forward, the team looks to continue to build camaraderie between players and maintain composure and performance under intense conditions, according to Garozzo and Pollock.
Garozzo said, “I think we need to continue to stay cool, calm, and collected in high pressure moments. Heading into a team like Deerfield, it’s going to be a really intense game, so we’re going to need to stay calm. Also, I think we need to just work on overall team play. Being a team, meshing well together, playing for Non Sibi, which we do, but we can always improve upon that. And that’s how we’ll beat Deerfield.”
“I think we played well for our first game, but there’s a lot to work on. You could see how much potential we have. So I think overall, our performance was good, but it can always be better. That’s why we get after it the next day in captain’s practice, and we go strong throughout the week because we’ve got a huge opponent next week against Deerfield,” added Pollock.
Andover will look to carry its momentum into its home game against Deerfield this Saturday.