MAHOPAC, N.Y.— The mature and close-knit Mahopac Indians are shooting for the stars as the bulk of the field hockey team returns after a year of experience together.
“Hopefully they got a great taste in their mouth now that the carrot has been dangled,” said Mahopac coach Dona DiMaggio, who enters her 20th season as head coach. “They know what to do to be successful and I’m looking for more initiative. We’ve got great leadership, the girls haven’t been taking the last couple months of off but have been playing. We should be successful.”
Expecting to put what they learned into action, the senior group that has been playing together since the seventh grade is seeking a banner year in 2016.
“We’ve been working a lot harder this summer,” senior defender Dominique Milian said. “We worked on our stick skills a lot more and we have more drive since most of us are seniors.”
The Indians will try to overcome the rollercoaster of a season they had last year.
“Last year we were rebuilding but we wound up doing pretty well,” DiMaggio said. “We were very inconsistent. We were younger and didn’t really have a style of play since everyone was new.”
DiMaggio will look to get the point across that her players must use their on-field intelligence more efficiently.
“This year we’re going to be focusing on playing smart hockey,” DiMaggio said. “They are going to have to start understanding strategies more than anything. Things like field vision and understanding where their opponents are on the field versus skill and finesse. This year more than ever we are going to use our mental acuities.”
Mahopac has now built up a talented band of girls from top to bottom that have seen it all.
“We don’t have a starting roster,” DiMaggio said. “We have a lot of depth on our team so whoever is hot that day is usually starting. There are a lot of leaders on this team.”
Star senior defenders in Milian and Julia Brower will hold the fort down when the Indians don’t have possession. Junior Colleen Curtain and super sophomore Devin King should see time in the backfield.
Senior Gianna Brigante and junior Shannon Barry are likely to split time in the goal.
“Our team has a lot of chemistry,” Brower said. “We have a lot of determination to win these games this year.”
King may also play midfield alongside seniors Kim Schiera, Kristen Maxwell and Marella Verde. Junior Erin Girven plans to make an impact at the varsity level.
“We have been working so much on our attack this summer,” Schiera said. “Our problem last year was that we would always get to the goal but we had a problem finishing. So a huge emphasis in the summer league has been finishing at the goal.”
Seniors Kim Brower and Briana Corace will lead a mature group of forwards. Fellow seniors Nicole DeMealo, Amanda Spano and all-purpose player Gabby Light will also see time on attack. Juniors Theresa Amerling and Ivy Marshall plan to make their minutes count most likely in substitution.
“We have an abundance of forwards this year,” Corace said. “Offense is one of our strengths and we are going to be more of a threat this year and beat some tougher teams that we lost to in the past because of our team came together and worked out earlier this year.”
Everything this season will come down to togetherness and goal setting though.
“It’s not about winning or losing,” DiMaggio said. “It’s about setting goals and achieving those goals. I’m just looking for a lot of unity and cohesiveness this year and that the kids appreciate the game for the sake of the game.”