Just two minutes into the Nepsac Championship between Andover Field Hockey and Sacred Heart Greenwich, Georgia Adams ’22 scored a goal off a drive from Shea Freda ’24. Another goal, two penalty strokes, thirteen penalty corners, and five saves later, Andover stormed the field in celebration of the 4-1 victory, claiming the program’s first title in four years.
The team’s early goal quickly shifted the momentum of the game in its favor. According to Freda, the fast start not only served as a relief from the emotional buildup leading up to the game but also set the tone for the type of opponent Sacred Heart would have to face for the rest of the game.
“The first goal was really memorable because right out of the gate we knew it was going to be a tough battle; both of our teams were really great. Getting that first goal early was really a tone-setter and gave us the momentum in the game. It gave us a lot of confidence throughout,” said Freda.
Ellie Parker ’25 noted how the goal boosted the energy of the team and also disturbed the play of its opponent.
“[Sacred Heart] was really flustered with one another, and it caused them to not communicate, which brought our energy up really well,” said Parker.
According to Captain Ellie Harrison ’22, the team’s pre-game traditions, which include a collective team breath to calm the nerves, remained consistent in the championship game.
“One thing our team does is we’ll take a group breath. We’ll huddle up and remind ourselves that we’re in this together, [and that] we can do this because we’ll play better relaxed and less frantic. We just take a second to appreciate who we are and who we’re with,” said Harrison.
A pass under pressure from Aimee Sieppenwolde ’22 to wide-open Meghan Dunne ’22 increased the team’s lead to two goals in the first quarter. With seven seconds until halftime, Gwyn Lapp ’22 effortlessly pushed the ball past the goalie in a penalty stroke, ending the half with Andover up 3-0.
According to Freda, the team wouldn’t have been able to maintain high intensity and momentum without the energy of both the players on the field and those who were supporting on the bench.
“I think the biggest thing about our team, why we were so strong, was because our energy on the sidelines and on the field was really palpable. During the game you could really see that because the other team was quiet and really didn’t have that, which gave us the upper hand,” said Freda.
In its efforts to overturn Andover’s comfortable first-half lead, Sacred Heart earned a total of 13 penalty corners throughout the game which Andover had to meticulously defend. Parker, Andover’s goalie, made five crucial saves, only letting one ball past her. This, according to Frea, gave the defense a strong foundation to build upon.
“On defense, especially our corner defense, we really had to trust each other, trust that we were going out to the ball and that our players would be right there beside us. Staying strong, [and] staying confident. We knew that they had very good hits, and they would be able to score easily. [By] trusting our goalie, Ellie Parker, staying strong, [and] staying low, we were pretty much able to stop all their corners,” said Freda.
Parker believes the strong communication of the flies, players rushing to the ball to disrupt play, also prevented Sacred Heart from capitalizing on its thirteen chances.
“They definitely had a lot of corners, but our defense, especially our flies, did a really good job of preventing them from getting many shots on net, like taking away their drives. Our communication on defense really powered us over them. It made them kind of silent, and they couldn’t do anything,” said Parker.
The penalty stroke in the fourth quarter by Harrison to the upper left corner allowed Andover to make its final statement of the 2021 season. The team’s championship and undefeated record was not the effort of individuals, but rather the collective effort of the team, according to Molly Boyle ’25.
“After, we were just so proud of each other, proud that we worked the whole season for this to finally come true,” said Boyle.
Parker reiterated the sentiment of selflessness within the team environment.
“No one was proud of themselves; it was being proud of the people next to you because we trusted one another to do what we needed to do,” added Parker.