Head Coach Kelly Horan remembers just how tough going things were a year ago for her Mashpee High School field hockey team.
The Falcons found out just before the start of the preseason that Amy Menard, who had just had a baby, would not be returning to lead the team, and that Horan would move up to coach the varsity. With a new coach and iffy chemistry the Falcons struggled through a year in which things never broke their way.
Ten months after the completion of that season things have improved quite a bit.
“I think right now that things are looking pretty good for the start of the season. It’s been a nice and positive start. We’re a lot better off than we were a year ago at this time,” Horan said.
Maturity is a big reason for the Falcons better head space. MHS will feature 10 seniors, all of whom should see regular playing time. The coaching staff is far more comfortable with its responsibilities and overall game plan. The Falcons want to win this year, and they want that badly.
“We’ve come in a lot more cohesive group,” Horan said. “I think it’s going to be a productive season.”
Horan said that her team’s offense is a big reason for optimism. The Falcons have the ability to make plays when they count and their leader, Zoe Farren, is the catalyst. Farren, who will miss the first game of the season with an injury, has the ability to turn a slight opening into a gaping door that she can go through. With a finisher’s touch, the senior co-captain is primed to be one of the top performers for the 2019 Falcons.
“She’s itching to come back. She’s going to be a key piece for us,” Horan said.
Joining Farren on the front line are two fellow seniors, co-captain Dasia Peters and Ainsley Kiefer. Peters is a big reason for Mashpee’s improved outlook this year. “She’s a strong voice on our team,” Horan said. “She has a great way about her, and her teammates hear what she’s saying.”
Kiefer, Horan said, has been pushing herself to improve and produce. “She’s going to be scoring this year. She’s worked hard at it.”
Skylar Dutra is the glue that holds the middle of the field together for the Falcons. Another co-captain, Dutra may be the team’s best all-around player, with the ability to make big plays both offensively and defensively. “She’s fantastic controlling the field,” Horan said. “She knows when to push up and when to stay back and protect the net.”
Junior Sidney Burke has solid chemistry with Peters on the left side of the field and will be a key part of the midfield for MHS. Horan said that her approach to being on the team really sets her apart. “I wish I had a million Sidney Burkes on the field,” the coach said.
Senior Kelly Skantz is also starting in the midfield. She has transitioned from a forward spot into the midfield and has impressed with her ability to be coached and to move her feet.
The defense will be working hard to feed the ball to the aforementioned players, and to protect their goal. Senior Sophia Ortiz is the fullback for MHS. She is a hard worker that plays low and gets to the ball.
The center back is Julie Cambria, a senior that has stepped up her game and taken on a leadership role. Sam Rozum, a sophomore, and Aldona Casey, a senior, will be the outside defenders. “I’m throwing them to the wolves a bit. They’re really good and working with their teammates and taking directions. I think they’ll become very good defenders.
Senior Jaylynn Burke is the team’s do-all reserve. She will come off the bench to fill in wherever needed. “She’s probably our most flexible player,” Horan said.
In the goal, Paige Lundberg is the starting netminder. Lundberg has improved her game greatly in the past year and is playing with confidence and ability. Horan said that the goalie is driven to get better at every practice and in every game and that her morale is infectious.
The Falcons begin their season on Friday, September 6, with a road game at Norwell High. The team does not play its first home game until September 17 against East Bridgwater. Most of the early part of the team’s schedule will see them with road games, but in October the Falcons only play twice out of town.
“I think that they’re going to be successful. There’s a huge difference in the vibe this year, it’s so positive and they’re getting stronger every day,” Horan said.