CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham field hockey team has had a strong 2017 campaign, posting an 8-4-2 record entering play on Thursday.

However, the season didn’t begin as such.

The Lady Cougars kicked off their fall campaign with a 6-0 defeat to Morristown. However, they did not get down on themselves and bounced back in an impressive way, shutting out their opponents in the next five matches, earning four wins and one draw in that stretch.

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Defense became the calling card in those matches for Chatham, and no one on that defense was more
important than goalkeeper Abby Walrond.

The success for Walrond has continued into this past week, with Chatham capturing two victories, including an exciting Cougar Night overtime win last Wednesday against Mount Olive.

Abby Walrond is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.

“Everything we did up until now has made us the best team we could possibly be, and on the field I think it showed,” Walrond said after that win, a 2-1 overtime victory.

That game was, perhaps, Walrond’s best of the season, totaling 20 saves, including a save of a penalty stroke with 16 minutes remaining in regulation.

“No matter how much training you have for strokes, the only thing you can do is block the stroke,” Walrond said. “Nothing really goes through my head. I just kind of focus in on the ball and nothing else matters.”

Chatham coach Kaitlin Leyden has also been an integral part of the success of not just Walrond, but the team as a whole. Her motivation tactics and keeping her players locked in out on the field make a major impact.

“I always tell the team that even if you score, it doesn’t matter what the score is,” Leyden said. “We always play 0-0 so we keep digging.”

Walrond has stood on her head this season, being the leader of the Chatham defensive group. However, moreso than her stellar play in net may be her unselfish qualities.

“We’re such an amazing team,” Walrond said. “Everyone on our team has the potential to be the best, and I truly believe that. I believe so much in our team."

The team entered that Cougar Night game coming off a two-game losing streak in which they were outscored by a combined 6-2. With Walrond taking into account her performance, as well as the rest of her team, she acknowledges a bright future for this team.

“The way we played today, I know we can play well the rest of the season,” Walrond said. “I know we can win every game.”

Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at  973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website