Field Hockey Calls Home Turf
By Ellen Oliver
Field hockey is the first official varsity home game on Nashoba’s turf field kicking off their season on Friday, September 6 at 7:00 pm. The Chieftains face a familiar foe, Central Mass D1 champ Shrewsbury, well-known because the Colonial’s coach, Lauren Chenevert, leads a popular club team. “A lot of the girls play for her and she knows what they can do,” said Nashoba Coach Jaime Mariani, who is still game planning against the challenge.
Mariani has been using the team’s three scrimmages to determine try-outs and to fill the positions vacated by the six graduated seniors. “I’m really pleased with how the girls are playing,” said Coach Mariani. “We can scrimmage in practice, but I can’t see what the players will do against a team as a team.”
What the coach hears on the sideline is a lot of respect. “Some of the older girls know the younger girls are better players. I hear them talking on the sidelines saying ‘She’s amazing.’ They’re very supportive,” said the coach.
According to Mariani, the positive environment comes from the top down, praising her three captains, senior Bridget Boyle, senior Sammy Gjeltema, and junior Olivia Hurd. “They’ve done a great job this off season,” said the coach. “They got girls involved in winter leagues, summer leagues and in camps. They’ve done a great job holding practices to get ready.”
All three captains have been on varsity since their freshman year and have seen the team evolve. “Our team has grown so much over the four years, it’s almost night and day,” said Boyle, adding that the mindset changed in her sophomore and junior years. “The determination was different. Everyone knew what to do and we did it,” she said.
Boyle explained that in her sophomore year, 2011, the team made districts for the first time in several years and fell in the semi-final round. Then last year the team made them again while also winning their league title. “That was incredible,” said Boyle. Going in as the top seed, Nashoba had a heartbreaking 3-2 loss in double overtime to Notre Dame Academy, once again in the semi-finals.
Now a senior and a captain as well, Boyle said she takes the honor and responsibility for setting and reaching goals very seriously. “Our goal is to get to districts and win league. Once we reach one goal, we’ll set another.”
Part of Boyle’s leadership strategy is communication. “Being a goal keeper, I’m at the back of the field and I can see the whole field, so I communicate a lot during the game,” she explained. “We’ve played together a long time now. If I make a mistake they’ve got my back, if they make one, I have their back,” she said.
Boyle shares goalkeeping duties with fellow senior Allison Gaffney. “We don’t have a goalie coach, so they often work off by
themselves. They work well on their own,” said the coach. “We’ve been through multiple camps and learned from other coaches, so we know what we need to do,” added Boyle.
The team will also have all their home games on the turf field, a faster and more consistent game than on a grass field. Some teams on Nashoba’s schedule still play on grass fields, so Mariani set a strategy with Athletic Director Tania Rich to reflect the changing playing surfaces. “Tania has arranged it so that before a game on turf, we practice on turf. Before a game on grass, we practice on grass,” said Mariani.
“Obviously the goal every year is to make the Districts. To get there we can’t underestimate any team. Every team can be a big game,” said Mariani. “Look too far ahead and you lose sight of the next game ahead of you.” Right now, the team is looking to Shrewsbury and their debut under the lights on the turf.