LYNNFIELD — When it comes to the North Division 2 tournament, the last three seasons haven’t been kind to the Lynnfield High School field hockey team. Last year, the Pioneers lost on a Wilmington goal with only 17 seconds left in overtime. The year before, they lost in strokes to Marblehead after battling through two overtimes, also in the first round. In 2014, they dropped another overtime heartbreaker, this time to Weston in the semifinals.
The Pioneers opened the season with double sessions yesterday and their three new captains are sure of one thing – the team’s goal, as always, is to make the tournament with a caveat.
“This is the year we’re not going to let it get to overtime,” said junior Ashley Barrett, who will serve as a tri-captain along with twin sister Brianna and senior Laura Bockoff. “The goal is to win it in regulation time, and that’s just what we plan to do. We came so close, losing last year with 12 seconds left and the year before on strokes. The seniors need to end their careers on a high note, so that’s the plan.”
Fifty-seven hopefuls showed up at the tryouts, much to coach Mamie Reardon’s delight.
“I think only one girl who signed up didn’t come out and I have 25 freshmen, which is as many as I’ve ever had,” said Reardon, who’s in her 35th season with the Pioneers. “Some of the young ones look really good, so they will be able to get lots of playing time and when they prove themselves, maybe get called up.”
The Pioneers lost six senior starters to graduation (nine in all), but Reardon said the team’s biggest need is on defense having lost sweeper Lilli Patterson, the 2016 Cape Ann League Kinney Division Player of the Year and right back Isabella Floramo, a CAL Second Team honoree.
“Lilli and Isabella were big parts of our success the last couple of years, and one of the reasons why we only allowed 12 goals last year,” said Reardon.
Patterson moved on to play at Northeastern University.
One of the players Reardon is looking to help fill out the backfield is junior Abby Buckley.
“She played great defense last year and definitely will help back there,” said Reardon. “Liv DiPietro, another junior, also will move back to defense along with Molly Smedira, another junior. Sophomore Carolyn Garofoli also will be counted on as a middie and back and Brianna will also see time in the middle.”
Other returning players in the mix for playing time include sophomore Lily Rothwell and seniors Mae Norton, Hailey Castinetti and Alex Ross.
“Lily and Ashley will be right out there on the front line,” said Reardon. “Ashley knows how to put the ball in, and Lily will also step up this year, I’m expecting.”
A pleasant surprise has been junior goalie Emily Dickey, who played soccer the last two years but defected to field hockey this year.
“We’re excited she decided to play field hockey this season, she’s very good and will help raise the level of play with the other goalies on the team,” said Bockoff. “She brings a ton of energy to the team and worked very hard over the summer.”
The Pioneers had a busy summer preparing for the fall season and all three captains agreed that the time was well spent in terms of fitness, the team’s strongest asset.
“Our conditioning is definitely the strength of our team,” said Ashley Barrett. “People don’t realize that you run three to four miles every game, so conditioning’s really important.”
Barrett said the team started three-a-week captain’s practices in June and the team also had great attendance at the Georgetown summer league.
“We also did the Endicott and Bentley camps, so we have had a lot of girls working hard all summer long” Bockoff said. “You can even see it today. Nobody had to sit out or asked to sit out. We’re in much better shape than any team I have seen in four years.”
“You have to be in good shape because with turf fields the game is not only faster, but it’s 10 degrees hotter,” said Brianna Barrett. “You have to be in as good shape at the end of the game as the beginning if you want to win games.”
Lynnfield opens the season September 7 at North Reading.