The Panthers look to keep plowing ahead after the graduation of 15 seniors.
For the past five seasons at tryouts, Whitman-Hanson Regional High field hockey head coach Todd Humphrey has watched the pool of players expand and talent level rise.
That’s why after losing a 15-player senior class – albeit one that set the tone of what field hockey is at Whitman-Hanson – Humphrey isn’t using the term rebuild, but rather “transition” to describe this fall.
“We’re very, very fast,” the fifth-year head coach said. “Our front seven — our forwards and midfielders are quite fast so that is a help, a boost, having lost 15 seniors.”
Humphrey, whose team, which was brought back in 2014, set highs in wins (six) and goals scored (30) last season, even took three freshmen – Lauren Dunn, Joli Flamos and Rosie MacKinnon – on varsity, which speaks volumes of how much field hockey has grown at W-H. But for every young team, it takes veteran leaders and playmakers to steer the ship to its destination, and the Panthers have them.
Senior captain Olivia Sheehan is as good as it gets from the left corner of the defense.
“Olivia Sheehan is one of the better defenseman in the Patriot League,” Humphrey said. “She will step up and battle and the thing about Olivia [is] when she gets the ball, she has an unbelievable burst.”
Senior captain Lauren Godbout has been with Humphrey since she was a freshman and will start at right midfielder.
Senior Annika Putur, who joined the team last season, will start in the center of the field at forward and serve as a captain, a role she serves on the girls’ lacrosse team as well.
“The offense pretty much centers around her,” Humphrey said. “She is a great ball mover. She’s very fast and I’ve noticed this year she’s got a little cut. She can deke on the field.”
Flanking Putur on her left will be sophomore Lauren Clark, who Humphrey expects to see big things out of.
“She was on the freshman team and I was just moving her around a lot last year just to expose her because we were so crowded on varsity last year,” Humphrey said. “I knew she was a good goal scorer and know you’re going to see the coming out of Lauren Clark.”
Clark will work in tandem with junior Robin Goyette. At right wing will be another tandem with juniors Maddy Tassey and Sophie Molinari.
Zoe Lydon, a girls’ hockey and lacrosse captain, will back up Putur, and Lauren Dunn, senior Samantha Whitman and sophomore Delanie MacDonald will see time at forward.
Junior Victoria Ryan, a softball captain, will go up against some of the Patriot League’s best from her spot at left midfielder, and she looks to be up for the task.
“The reason I chose her at left midfielder was so I can deal with all these right wings that are so fast,” Humphrey said. “I figure that she can trail them.”
Flamos will also see time at left midfielder and junior Abby Repoza at center midfielder, while seniors Emily Stearns and MacKinnon will be up the middle.
“I want to get a lot of speed in the midfield and I’d love to see our midfielders enter the offensive zone – that half circle – and join the offensive attack,” Humphrey said.
In addition to Sheehan on defense, senior Kathryn Dunn – a girls’ basketball captain – will roam the middle with sophomores Skylar Leonard and Noelle Cornetta to her right. Sophomore Madi Savicke takes over for Molly MacKinnon in goal.
“She’s been playing in a lot of leagues and getting in shape,” Humphrey said. “She’s looked great and definitely has a very bright future.”
The Panthers are back on the field Friday, Sept. 7 at 3 p.m. as they play host to non-league rival East Bridgewater.
“In terms of wins and losses, I’d love to make the tournament, Humphrey said. “I think there might be some growing pains at first. We’ll see where we’re at one game at time, but we may have ourselves a playoff team.”