The Woodstock Academy field hockey captains, left to right: Eliza Dutson, Meg Preston and Olivia Ott. Photo by Marc Allard

A sense of “normal.”
Unlike many high school athletics in this pandemic crisis which have been cancelled or will play by modified rules to meet new guidelines established by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the Connecticut Department of Health, girls’ field hockey remains pretty much status quo.
“In our (state) preseason meeting, (officials) talked about what referees would be doing differently and rules regarding spectators. For (teams), there is essentially nothing (different) other than sideline protocols. In reality, field hockey is a sport where (athletes) should not be in each other’s face much anyway. If you’re doing it that way, you’re doing it wrong,” said Woodstock Academy field hockey coach Lauren Gagnon.
It means student-athletes, especially seniors, will likely get their wish in that there, right now, will be a field hockey season.
“I’m so excited,” said Centaurs senior tri-captain Olivia Ott. “I’ve been looking forward to this season for the past three years. Your senior season is always the most exciting. We’ve built a lot of strong relationships with each other and, despite COVID, it’s going to be the best season.”
There is still the possibility that the season could be hampered by an outbreak of the virus or even by schools deciding not to send their athletes to compete.
There have already been some structural changes. Normally, teams begin play shortly after Labor Day. The first official game is Oct. 1. The Centaurs will play a scrimmage against Killingly on Sept. 28.
And up until this past Saturday, practices were limited to one hour of conditioning and skill work since they began in late August.
“It’s definitely weird that we’re only playing 11 games and our games start so much later. We usually only have a couple of October games. It , potentially, hinders us with weather and those kind of issues. It’s hard to play field hockey in the cold. Your hands hurt really bad, the ball (when it strikes a player) hurts even worse. It’s an added challenge, but I don’t think any of the kids or myself are complaining,” Gagnon said.
The field hockey team also has the opportunity to do something that others do not. Travel. While most fall sports teams at Woodstock Academy will not travel much further than Norwich, the field hockey team has just about a normal schedule. It includes home-and-home games with Waterford, E. Lyme and NFA, single games with Fitch and Stonington and three matchups with nearby Killingly.
The reason for the increased travel is that none of the local schools, with the exception of Killingly, sponsor the sport.
Despite the relative normalcy, there will be no league, divisional or state championships to compete for. It’s just an 11-game regular season.
“We just want to have a good season; to have fun. We have a schedule as of now so we will play games, hopefully do well, and win I guess,” Ott said.
Ott is joined by a host of classmates. Her fellow captains include Meg Preston and Eliza Dutson. Other seniors on the roster include Alexia Adams, Amanda Bond, Rachel Canedy, Sarah Delaney, Kaily LaChapelle, Avery MacNeil, Maddie Silbermann, Liz Silbermann, and Alex Vaida. Elaina Borski, Brigid McNerney, Sofia Murray, Marissa O’Sullivan, Tegan Perry, Julia Powell and Eliza Simpson are the juniors on the team.
The top two scorers from last year’s 5-11 squad, Canedy (6 goals, 4 assists) and Dutson (4, 1), return.
Field Hockey Schedule: Thurs., Oct. 1:   vs. Norwich Free Academy, 4 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 5: vs. E. Lyme, 4 p.m.; Thurs., Oct. 8:  vs. Fitch, 4 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 10: vs. Killingly, 11 a.m.; Mon., Oct. 12:  at Waterford, 4 p.m.; Thurs., Oct. 15: at Stonington, 6:15 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 19:  vs. Killingly, 4 p.m.; Thurs., Oct. 22: at NFA, 4 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 26:   vs. Waterford, 4 p.m.; Thurs., Oct. 29: at E. Lyme, 4 p.m.; Mon., Nov. 3: at Killingly,  6:30 p.m.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy

RocketTheme Joomla Templates