The Manchester Essex field hockey team started off a big week with a big win, the biggest so far of this young season.
The Hornets beat perennial power Newburyport on Monday afternoon, 3-1, giving the team a win that should provide them with a real boost of momentum heading into a home game at night against Ipswich (Sept. 20, 7 p.m.) and an away matchup with Amesbury on Sept. 23 (10 a.m.).
“This was a huge game against Newburyport,” explains ME field hockey coach Courtney Brown. “They are such a highly respected and skilled program so we knew we would have to set the tone early.”
The Hornets did just that. Abby Kent set up Greta Gado to give ME an early lead just three minutes into the game, and the Hornet defense put in a stellar effort in front of goalie Brigid Carovilanno. Kent scored her second goal of the game in the third quarter with an assist coming from Ella Chafe, and Kiernan Day (assisted by Torrin Kirk) put in an insurance goal in the fourth.
“In this game we emphasized possession of the ball and smart passes,” says Brown. “We were really able to use our width and give-and-go passes up the sidelines to get past Newburyport’s press.”
Kent now has four goals and a pair of assists over the season’s first five games, and she is one of the key reasons the team has gone 3-1-1 to this point. A prime example of her all-out effort and skill came in a 1-1 tie with Bishop Fenwick on Sept. 11.
“Abby is a fighter and such a utility player,” explains Brown. “After Fenwick was awarded a stroke and scored, Abby carried the ball up the field and smashed it into the back of the net to tie the game.”
Also, of note has been the play of Isabelle Donnellan and Summer Demeo.
“These two play similar positions - high defense - and have become crucial to our play,” Brown says of the duo.
The Hornets have shown they can give maximum effort day in and day out, with the result being a landmark improvement overall defensively in the win over Newburyport on Sept. 18.
“This team outworks nearly every opponent,” says Brown. “They step hard to the ball and use their stick skills to weave past opponents. They never give up.
She adds: “We do need to tighten up our defense across the entire field so that our press is impactful. We’re working hard in practice to possess the ball more effectively and capitalize in the circle.” Manchester Essex is playing well so far in spite of the fact that Mother Nature seems to be playing games with the Hornets’ ability to play games.
“That first week of the season we had some cancellations due to the heat,” explains Brown. “We’ve also had rain delays, thunder storms…the works. It’s an added variable that definitely impacts the game, but we realize we can only control what we can control. When we aren’t able to get out on the field due to weather, we’ll usually make the most of it by going for a team run and working out in the weight room.” Next up, a late game with Ipswich, followed by an early game against Amesbury. “The energy is always different for night games, so I’m looking forward to seeing my girls rise together,” says Brown.