By Michael James LeClair<br>
Champions are made in the offseason and the Nashoba Regional field hockey team is back to work in preparation for the 2016 season.
The Chieftains once again are taking part in the Fast Break Summer Field Hockey League at Doyle Field in Leominster.
The league, which began the final week of June and runs through mid-August, features eight area schools including: Nashoba, Lunenburg, Clinton, Leominster, Oakmont Regional, Groton-Dunstable Regional, St. Bernard’s and North Middlesex Regional.
“The summer league is a great opportunity to work the younger girls into the program and it gives us a chance to get to know the younger players and bond over the summer,” said soon-to-be senior captain Katie Crowley following Tuesday evening’s 3-0 win against Oakmont Regional. “We are excited for the season to get here. We’re hoping to be able to build off the success we’ve had the past two years and keep it going.”
The games give the athletes an opportunity to work on fundamental skills in a competitive environment. It’s also a great opportunity for these athletes to work on their conditioning so that they can hit the ground running to begin the fall 2016 season.
“This is the ninth or tenth year the league has been here at Doyle Field and I believe the 15th or 16th year the league has been in existence,” said league director and North Middlesex Regional junior varsity field hockey coach Kelly Marciano. “I’ve been running this camp for nine years and it’s been awesome… We owe a big thank you to the Leominster Recreation Department. They’ve been great.”
Each squad plays a 12-game regular season before the playoffs begin Aug. 16 with the top four teams qualifying. The two winners will meet in the championship game the following evening on Aug. 17.
“This is a great opportunity for the girls to play on the turf and in an 11-on-11 environment that you don’t get in a lot of summer leagues,” said Marciano. “The competition has been great and you can really tell the girls love being out here and are passionate. “
Nashoba Regional is the defending two-time Central Mass. Division 1 champion. Last fall, the Chieftains put together a 15-2-1 regular season to earn the number one seed in Division 1 Central Mass. Wins over Westborough, Notre Dame Academy of Worcester and Quabbin Regional gave the Chieftains their second straight sectional title.
“The summer league is definitely an awesome thing we have going here because it’s a great chance for us to get back into game shape and it puts us in a game environment,” said Christina Lengieza, who will be a junior in the fall. “It’s also great for our freshmen because coming into a new school and a new sport can be scary and tough. Having this allows us to come together and gel as a team and a program.”
With Tuesday’s win over the Spartans, Nashoba improved to 2-1 on the young field hockey summer season. The Chieftains opened league play with a loss to St. Bernard’s Catholic High School out of Fitchburg before defeating host Leominster High School and Tuesday’s triumph.
In Tuesday’s victory, Nashoba netted a trio of goals in the first half and set it on cruise control in the second stanza to secure the shutout win. Crowley and upcoming Nashoba sophomore Julia Straub combined to register the shutout in the net as the two goalies split time in the cage. Lengieza registered two goals in Tuesday’s win while Katie Anderson, who will be a junior this fall, potted the third Chieftain goal.