Field Hockey Rides Wave of Excitement Heading into Exeter Rivalry

Co-Captain Keira Harder ’23 passes across the field.

Heading into Andover/Exeter with a 13-1-1 record, Andover Field Hockey looks to close out their regular season by continuing its ten-game undefeated streak. With this Saturday serving as the first Fall A/E at home since before Covid-19, the home field advantage for this matchup will be a new experience for the majority of the team.

Since Saturday’s matchup will be the final regular-season home game for the team’s Seniors, Lucy Parker ’26 believes there will be a special sentiment within the team that day, emphasizing the team’s excitement.

“We’re all very, very excited and really eager to play because as everyone knows, it’s a huge, huge game, and having it home this year is also so fun, for the Seniors especially. For them to be able to play their last regular-season game at home is really fun for them. I think the intensity and the excitement that we all have has built up throughout the season, and to know that it is in exactly a week is so crazy to us, so we’re all so excited,” said Parker. 

According to Co-Captain Keira Harder ’23, the team has been working on embracing unselfish plays, which discourages dependence on individual players. In particular, the team hopes to utilize strong, cohesive passing to stretch the field. 

“We really want to play a team game. Recently, in our practices, we have been working on moving the ball to space and transferring away from crowds. Our goal in this game is to string together good passing sequences to create better scoring opportunities instead of relying on individual skill,” said Harder.

Parker emphasized the balance between pressure and support in rivalries like A/E. She looks forward to receiving strong support from Andover’s fans, in addition to taking advantage of the high energy supplied by Philip Exeter Academy’s (Exeter’s) players and fans. 

“Everyone is so excited that it’s A/E weekend, and the fans and the stands are actually crazy. They’re so excited. Everyone wants to win so, so bad, and you can feel it on the field. When you’re watching games, you can feel it in the stands. And just having a rival team when you’re playing against them, and having your whole school and a whole other school there to support you, it’s totally a surreal experience. Me being a Freshman, I’ve never experienced it on the field.  I’ve only ever gone to the sports games, so I’m really excited to see what it’s like as a player,” said Parker. 

While the team has stressed a game-by-game approach throughout the season, Harder acknowledges the larger picture behind the game. With a rivalry dating back to 1880, Harder expects a tough battle. 

“We try to play one game at a time, but obviously with such a long standing tradition of rivalry, we are looking at a very strong opponent. We hope to bring our very best energy for this game and given that we don’t have another opponent this week, we can focus our practices to be solely geared towards defeating Exeter,” said Harder.

On home turf, Andover Field Hockey will face off against Exeter at 12:00 p.m. this Saturday.