MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Compiling a winning season while returning only one starting player from last year is a daunting task for any team, but the Mahopac field hockey squad is up for the challenge.
After reaching the Section 1 Class A quarterfinal before falling to highly ranked Scarsdale, the Indians lost a boatload of offensive threats to the cap-and-gown route.
A huge chunk of last season’s starting lineup in stars like Dominique Milian, Kim Brower, Julia Brower, Kim Schiera, Briana Corace and Gabby Light have moved on, but that’s not at all slowing the Indians’ optimism for another solid year.
“Last year we had a lot of very talented players but this year we have a lot of positivity,” senior forward Theresa Amerling said. “We’re all motivated to get better and that’s how we are going to succeed.”
Quite a dynamic midfield should motor Mahopac’s chances this season, as it fields several playmakers, none more important than third-year starter Erin Girven.
“She’s our center midfielder and everything is going to come through her,” Mahopac coach Dona DiMaggio said. “She’s got the talent, she’s got the skill. Hopefully, [the midfield] can catalyze us attacking and support us defending.”
Senior midfielders Miriam Fanous and Alexandria Conlin plan to use their speed to their advantage as well in the center. Another faster player in junior Andrea Viaggio will join that core with them.
“We really have to pick up on our endurance at practice and be serious about what we are doing,” Fanous said. “As long as what we do at practice goes onto the field, we’ll have a great season.”
The list goes even deeper, since sophomore midfielders Alex Baranowski and Caitlyn Reilly prepare for increased minutes to replace the injured Devin King. King, a junior midfielder who played often in 2016, is still recovering from an ACL injury.
Offensively, senior forwards Ivy Marshall and Amerling are first to take charge with the ball. Another senior in Catalina Fleming will see time at forward, but the rest of the crew is still undecided as new players show their stuff off this preseason.
Mahopac’s upcoming defense also has many question marks as the regular season approaches rapidly on DiMaggio and an unproven bunch.
“It’s going to be a major rebuilding year,” DiMaggio said. “I’m just hoping that we can set game goals and not scoring necessarily, but a different goal for each game. If we can reach our individual and team goals each time we have a competition, we are going to be successful.”
Senior Colleen Curtin should play, but the remainder is still not certain. One thing that is in stone is that senior Shannon Barry will be the team’s goaltender.
After splitting time with the graduated Gianna Brigante last year, Barry will be called upon for big results amid a younger defense that will play together.
“Our cohesiveness is a strength and we will be very unified,” DiMaggio said. “It seems right now that they are feeding off each other and their attitude right now is that they are willing to work.”
Mahopac opens up with nemesis Scarsdale in the first round of the Somers tournament on Friday, Sept. 8 at 4 p.m.
“We hope to live up to our standards of last year,” Marshall said. “We want to exceed those expectations.”