Algonquin way’ pays dividends for field hockey team
Northborough/Southborough - Coming off a disappointing 5-10-3 season in which her team did not qualify for postseason play, Algonquin Regional High School senior field hockey captain Molly Wraight had a suggestion about how to possibly turn the Tomahawks' fortunes around when she met with her coach, Dan Welty, and her fellow captains, Kay Clark, Katie Campbell and Liz Hegarty.
"We were having our preseason captains and coaches meeting and Molly said to us, 'We need to teach the new girls how to play the Algonquin way,'" Welty said. "And it stuck. It's become our motto, our slogan for the season. We put it on the back of our varsity Tshirts."
Just what exactly is playing field hockey the Algonquin way?
"It's playing with a focus and an intensity all the time: in practice doing drills, in warmups, in games," Welty said. "Playing the play all the way out, never giving up – and doing that in practice too. How you practice is how you play. If you don't do the little things in practice, you can't all of a sudden flick a switch and do them in games,"
So far, so good. Through five games, the Tomahawks are 2-1-2 and seemingly a far cry from last year's 5-10-3 mark.
Algonquin is led by its four captains, who are the cornerstones of a senior class that also includes Jennifer Ballen, Lauren Cavicchi, Rachel Efstathion, Kayla Sergi and Jenna Williams.
The 10 juniors on the roster are Nicole Bishop, Mary Farrell, Samantha Howells, Taylor Johnson, Julia Lloyd, Molly Shine, Cassie Short, Sheridan Sleeper, Meghan Wood and Amanda Yee.
Kate Sullivan is the lone sophomore on the Tomahawk roster, Emily Bourke the lone freshman.
When asked to list his starting or regular lineup, Welty explained that he doesn't have one.
"We don't have a set lineup. I start the girls in a particular game that I feel are playing at the top of their game at that time," Welty said. "This team has a very interesting makeup. We have some rock stars and we have some girls that need to get some more experience, but overall, everyone is pretty close to the same level."
Welty's beliefs about his team's overall balance was confirmed by Hegarty.
"Liz came up to me one day and said when she's out there in games it doesn't matter who is around her. 'I feel like I can pass it to anybody who's out there on the field with me at any given time,' she said," Welty explained. "I thought it was pretty neat that a captain noticed that and that members of the team have that much confidence in each other."
Welty was particularly happy with the Tomahawks' 1-0 victory over Burncoat High Sept. 17. The win came via a goal from Bourke in the final minute.
"I was really happy for Emily and the team," Welty said. "They just kept working, the whole game. They just kept up the eff ort, never giving in, and their hard work was rewarded."
One of Algonquin's two ties this season was a 1-1 affair with defending Central Mass. Division 1 champion and state finalist Shrewsbury High.
"That was a very productive tie for us," Welty said. "We were down 1-0 with 13 minutes to play and Nicole Bishop tied the game. We were thrilled to be able to tie them in their home opener. I was a way for us to say, 'Maybe your road back to the title and the state tournament isn't going to be as easy as you had hoped.'"
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