As they walk onto the field, sticks in hand, war paint smeared under their eye’s and slicked back braided ponytails, the Holliston girls Field Hockey team looks like a group you do not want to mess with.
A new coach, Alyssa Wesoly, took on the Panthers this year; however, this is not the first time the girls have had to overcome the changes of new coaching styles.
For Cat Berg, junior at HHS and starting goalie for the Panthers, Wesoly was the third coach she has had since her freshman year. Berg said that Wesoly “is the perfect coach. Unlike our coaches from the last two years, she integrates stick work and fitness to help improve the team overall.”
Wesoly was offered the coaching position on the varsity level in the first week of August, leaving her only a month to get to know the girls and shape them up for the season ahead.
With a season record of five wins, four ties, and nine losses, the season has just come to an end, and Wesoly said that her original expectations were well exceeded. She commented that, “Watching the girls play at Providence College camp, I knew this year was going to be a big teaching year.”
Starting in the beginning of summer, the girls trained, participated in PC sleep away camp, engaged in fitness workouts run by senior captains Maggie Hamre and Emilee Schaney, and played summer league games.
Wesoly even said, “Maggie and Emilee were really the ‘glue’ to the team in the off-season with conditioning so we were able to hit the ground running on the first day.”
Kate Naughton, sophomore at HHS and defender for the Panthers, also says that the summer training “gave us so much time to bond, and it helped a lot with trust on the field.”
However, the team bonding did not just stop at the end of summer. Berg said, “from the start the captains main focus was becoming a family, since if you don’t love your team as family, then what kind of team are you?”
The captains and Wesoly even agreed upon the idea of having JV and varsity doing team-bonding activities together to help grow the Field Hockey family.
According to Naughton, the team set up three goals for the season: make it to states, become a family, and build up fundamentals. Unfortunately, the team was 4 points shy of qualifying for states, but without a doubt they have become family and improved on stick work.
The Panthers faced some very offensive teams like Dover Sherborn, who have been undefeated for 2 years now, Westwood, and Medway. For Berg, these teams were the hardest to defend, since they had forwards standing right on her, making it hard to see around them to look for the ball.
This season, Wesoly said the girls improved on “gaining experience and realizing that we can compete with some of the best teams in the league.” The Panthers lost to DS, a team with a season record of 18-0, in a 1-0 game.
For Naughton, this was one of her best memories of this season. She said “even though we didn’t win, it was probably one of the best games we played.”
However, with every sports team, there is always room for improvement. Throughout the season, players are always rolling in or out of injuries, therefore, other players needed to step up and fill in their position’s. Wesoly said players were willing to do so, but the trust needs to be stronger for those teammates in different positions.
“We also will need to improve our defensive positioning as well as finishing on offensive opportunities and to stay healthy in order to compete with the top teams next year,” Wesoly pointed out, considering this season they lost multiple key players to various injuries.
When asked if they would miss their senior’s, both Berg and Naughton were very supportive of their upperclassmen.
Naughton said, “they really care about how everyone is feeling about the game, they both love the sport, and they put a lot of time in for the team.”
Berg said, “they were opposites but perfect opposites, they balanced each other out.”
On one hand, Hamre was the tough one; the one who would get everyone riled up and ready to play. On the other hand, Schaney was the relaxed one; she was focused but would lighten the girls up by making jokes.
The girls will also leave this season with memories that will last forever.
“One of my best memories was after we beat Medfield, their coach was so mad, and as soon as the game ended we all were jumping up and down, hugging each other, and we sang on the bus ride home,” said Berg.
For Coach Wesoly, “One of the most exciting moments of the season was scoring with 23 seconds left away at Dedham to come from behind to tie them.”
As for next season, it will be tough for the team to lose their strong seniors on the field. However, they are heavy on underclassmen, and incoming freshmen are looking pretty talented too.
Naughton said, “even though we lost our seniors, we can replace them, and we will work just as hard next year as we did this year to make states.”
So watch out Tri Valley League, Holliston Girls Field Hockey is closer than ever and hungry for states next season.