field pg 1 9-13-18

WOODSTOCK— The Woodstock Academy field hockey team finished fourth in the Eastern Connecticut Conference last season.
The Centaurs would like to take more than just a step up this season.
“I would love to take three steps up, that would be fine by me,” coach Lauren Gagnon said with a laugh. “We’re just looking to improve every year and we’ve done it. They’re here, working hard every day and spreading the love of the sport to dozens of other kids.”
Indeed, the numbers were, once again, very good.
Some 54 student-athletes turned out for the program including the first two international students that Gagnon has had come out.
“I don’t think either has played, but it’s a nice cultural experience for the kids,” Gagnon said.
With the numbers comes the natural competition.
In practice, the Centaurs split into four teams.
That doesn’t happen in a varsity game and everyone wants to play.
“Team cohesion can be a struggle for us because we have so many players who are fighting hard for their positions. It’s tough to be battling for your spot all the time, but love your neighbor. It’s not that they don’t love each other; it’s just tough to get a solid midfield line going for a long time when you have so many kids changing in and out. Or when you have 12 kids who can rotate into the four forward line spots. It’s a good problem to have,” Gagnon said.
Senior Hannah Wotton said there is also only one ball.
“We have to learn to communicate better. That’s always something you have to work on when you have new players in new positions. It’s definitely tough when everyone comes together and all go at the ball at the same time,” Wotton said.
The Centaurs didn’t lose all that much offense from a year ago.
While many players are interchangeable, some are slated to be playing up front. Seniors Hannah Chubbuck, Emma Strandson and Sam Mowry, junior Lily Brin and sophomores Eliza Dutson and Rachel Canedy are the returning forwards.
Dutson moves up from the back.
“She is going to be very helpful shooting and scoring more goals this year,” Wotton said.
Avery Jones returns as a junior midfielder who is a fine distributor.
She also clearly loves the sport as her summer was spent on the field.
“She played Futures – the Team USA development program – and learned a lot from that. She went to the UMass camp and did some clinic stuff with the Woodstock Field Hockey Association. She is looking strong and she has a shiny new stick,” Gagnon said.
Brin, Wotton and Abigail Kruger will also be in the midfield.
The Centaurs did lose Haley Armstrong from the mid and both Wanjiru Gatheru and Hannah Reynolds from the defense to graduation.
“I know it looks like we’re not in great shape defensively, but we come back with some really strong, key players. Last year, I was able to start two freshmen in any game and feel comfortable (Dutson has been bumped to forward). I know Sydney Cournoyer would love to be up on the forward line and tossing in goals for us, but she’s a workhorse in the back field and comes with a lot of experience. She will power the defense,” Gagnon said.
The Centaurs also have goalies Olivia Stanikmas and Rachel Roberts, both of whom took in some camps this summer, back in the cage.
Newcomers to the varsity will include juniors Paige Kasacek, Anya Farutin, Tessa Houlihan and Madelyn Lecuyer; sophomores Megan Preston and Alex Vaida and freshmen Hannah Clark, Eliza Simpson and Brigid McNearney.
The Centaurs made both the ECC and state tournaments a year ago and finished 7-10-1.
“We really thought it was one or two key games that if we had won, we could have gone into the ECC championship by not being matched up with Stonington in the first round. We did really well in the first half of that game (versus Stonington). Ideally, we want to make the (league championship), that’s a definite possibility, and it’s what we’re striving for,” Gagnon said.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director
The Woodstock Academy


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