August 6, 2014
By Michael James LeClair
Champions are made in the offseason and that’s what the girls’ field hockey team at Nashoba Regional is striving for this summer.
The Chieftains have been busy taking part in the Summer Fast Break Field Hockey League at Doyle Field in Leominster.
The league began back on June 24 and includes eight area high school field hockey programs. Along with the Chieftains, the league features the talented programs of Leominster, Oakmont Regional, Littleton, Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Groton-Dunstable, North Middlesex Regional and St. Bernard’s.
“We’ve been running this league for over 10 years. I want to say it’s been 12 or 13 years and its come such a long way since we started.
When we began, we were playing games at Carter Park in Leominster and now we get to use this beautiful facility here at Doyle Field,” said Summer Fast Break Field Hockey League director Kelly Marciano. “It’s become one of the premier summer field hockey leagues in the area. The Leominster Recreation Department has been so good to us and we’re very grateful and appreciative.”
With the league’s playoffs just around the corner, teams are fighting for one of the playoff spots awarded to the top four teams in the standings.
“For teams to be able to get into this league and get 12-14 games under your belt before the season starts is huge, especially getting to play them on the field turf,” said Marciano. “This year, I’m even more impressed because teams are using this experience as team practices. They are really organized and they’re getting everyone involved and I like that.”
Following a 4-1 loss to defending league champion Oakmont on July 31, the Chieftains dropped to 4-5 with two regular season games remaining. The playoffs are scheduled to begin on August 11 with two semifinal games. The championship is the following night on August 12.
“This is really great, especially for the freshmen coming in. It’s a way to warm the girls up for what they will expect from high school field hockey,” said Nashoba senior-to-be Emma Caviness, a three-year member of the Chieftains’ program. “It gives our team an edge over the other teams that play in a summer league. We get to keep that bond and continue to build team chemistry that we worked on from the previous season. It’s also a great way to shake off some of the rust.”
The games consist of two 25-minute halves and use running time. The only time the clock stops is on a goal, a timeout or an injury.
Caviness’s classmate Meghan Thorogood also feels the league is very beneficial.
“I remember when I was a freshmen and I didn’t know anyone this was where I came in and learned my new teammates and got a feel for the game at the high school level,” said Thorogood. “It’s really good to have the support of the upperclassmen because they help you and teach you, especially with your field hockey skills.”
Similar to other high school sports, the in-season coaching staff is not allowed to coach during the summer months, therefore many of the teams, including Nashoba, are coached by the players themselves.
“My goal for next year is to be able to continue to expand this league and add a couple more teams and another night of field hockey to the schedule,” said Marciano. “The teams and players involved in this league do such a great job it practically runs itself. It makes my job so much easier, which makes me very happy.”
Last fall, the Chieftains finished the season with a 12-6-2 overall record, qualifying for the Central Mass. Division 1 Tournament. Nashoba ousted Westborough in the first round before falling to eventual Central Mass. Division 1 champion Shrewsbury in the quarterfinals.
According to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association website the high school field hockey season officially begins August 21. Nashoba kicks off its season on September 3 with a pair of road contests, visiting Hudson before traveling to North Middlesex Regional on September 5.