Varsity field hockey wins first playoff appearance in 12 years


Varsity Field Hockey comes away with a 2-1 win in their first playoff game in 12 years.

Making history and leaving victorious, the varsity field hockey team took the field for their first playoff game in 12 years and ended with a close 2-1 victory over Westford on Nov. 4. This win allowed the team to move forward in the state championship tournament, a new opportunity for everyone on the team.

Before the game, coach Emily Hunt led the team through warm ups and drills to prepare them for the game. She said the team deserved to be where they were due to their hard work all season.

“I’m feeling nervous, but a very excited nervous. We earned this, the whole group is excited and we’re ready to go. We’ve waited years for this, and we’ve worked very hard this year to get here,” Hunt said.

Because playoffs were uncharted territory for the entire team, Hunt wanted her players to feel confident. She said she wanted the team to play like she knew they could.

“I want them to play with confidence and composure and just play the way they’ve been playing all season long. It was a difficult road to get here, but we rose to that challenge. Now we want to come out with a win,” Hunt said.

Following their coach’s advice, the team started the game with ferocity. They kept the majority of possession and had multiple attacking chances. Despite Westford’s defensive efforts, junior Annabelle Gardner scored the first goal for the warriors.

After the opening goal, the intensity increased dramatically, and the warriors were able to end the first quarter 1-0. In the second quarter, they found success again as sophomore Piper Kelly scored to elevate the warrior’s victory to a 2-0 lead.

In the third quarter, the warriors held possession for the majority of the half. But, after a breakaway, Westford was able to stun them with a goal off of a corner penalty. The warriors were able to hold on to their lead for the rest of the quarter despite a few chances from Westford.

In the fourth quarter, the warriors rallied back a second wind and held possession for the majority of the quarter. They had many close shots on goal and kept the ball out of their net. They held onto their close lead and fought hard to win. When the whistle blew at the end of the fourth quarter, the warriors were victorious and secured their spot for the next game scheduled for Friday Nov. 5.

Players said the high intensity of the game could come from many changes in refereeing and environment in playoff games compared to the regular season.

Junior Annabelle Gardner said that playoff games are officiated differently and come with a different level of intensity than the regular season games.

“This game is different because there’s a lot more riding on it and the refs are going to be a lot harsher because it’s a playoff game,” Gardner said.

Captain and senior Willa Kitterman said that players had to deal with the pressure of a new playoff environment and learn to remain composed when things didn’t go according to plan.

“We don’t normally have big crowds at our games, and here there were big sidelines and a lot of cheering. People aren’t usually super nervous at our games, but you could definitely feel there was a little nervous energy at the beginning before people picked it up. And it wasn’t very nerve-wracking after five minutes,” said Kitterman.

After the game, the team was thrilled with their win but said they noticed some ups and downs in terms of their intensity throughout the game. Gardner said that they played a great game despite losing some intensity in the third quarter.

“The game went great. We started out really strong in the beginning, we got two goals in the first half. Then we kind of lost our energy, but we pushed through and we gained it back in the end. That’s what’s important,” Gardner said.

The team also needs to retain their mental toughness as they go up against even stronger competition, said Gardner.

“Our goal for the rest of the playoffs is to remain mentally tough. We’re up against some really good teams that have been playing field hockey a lot longer than us, so I think we want to not let that intimidate us and be reminded that we’re a really, really strong team,” said Gardner.

Kitterman said the captains have a big role in helping the team control their mindsets and not get intimidated.

“We really try to prepare people’s mindsets because a lot of the time people go into games looking at other teams’ rankings and saying ‘we could totally beat this team’ or ‘we’re totally gonna lose to this team.’ We really try to hype people up and say we just need to think and play our best,” said Kitterman.

Kitterman said that they have already had historic success for the field hockey program, but they want to do even more.

“We’ve had a lot of big achievements for the field hockey program,” said Kitterman. “But we’re just gonna keep on going and keep on fighting.”