The Panthers rose their win and goal totals this season.
When sixth-year Whitman-Hanson Regional High field hockey head coach Todd Humphrey looks back on the past season, he breaks it into parts.
Part one: the Panthers’ first six games, in which they went 0-5-1. Part two: their last 13 games, in which they went 4-5-4. So what changed?
“The process truly began after the fourth game of the season against Hingham, where we lost 5-0,” said Humphrey, whose team finished the season with a 4-10-5 record. “We all agreed that we should not be losing 5-0 to any team. We looked at our practices, our pregame warm-ups, penalty corners, our positioning in the offensive zone and our game plans. The process lasted throughout the season, and we got better.”
So, when the Panthers played Hingham again, 10 games later, they lost 3-0. The game was a lot closer than the score indicated Down 1-0 at halftime, W-H surrounded two second-half goals to Keenan Division MVP Catherine McNally.
“After the game, there were a number of Hingham parents that reached down to shake my hand from the stands to commend me on the improvements of my team,” Humphrey recalled. “It was quite a moment for me as a field hockey coach, to say the least.”
Also during that 13-game stretch, the Panthers bested Pembroke (2-1), posted a pair of ties against Norwell (1-1 and 0-0), tied Hanover (0-0) and beat Duxbury (3-2).
“I felt that when the season progressed, we were finding better ways to get the ball from our defenders to our front seven,” said Humphrey. “Transitioning the ball will always be a work in progress. I don’t think you can spend enough time evaluating how your team moves the ball up the field.”
An improved transition game was just a part of the Panthers’ newfound success on offense.
“Brooke Nisby (junior forward) was relentless whenever she was on the field,” said Humphrey, whose team raised its goal total from 14 last autumn to 21 this season. “We did a better job distributing the ball off of free hits, especially in our own zone. We came up with a penalty corner strategy that helped us score three goals in [the] last three games. Olivia Phelps (sophomore forward) and Lauren Dunn (sophomore forward) started doing better at controlling the ball and becoming threats to score.”
Sophomore midfielder Mary Kate Ryan was selected as the Panthers’ league all-star.
“Mary Kate hustles to get in position to make plays both offensively and defensively,” Humphrey said. “She controls the ball extremely well, especially when carrying the ball through traffic. She is a great passer and a great play maker.”
Junior captain and forward Lauren Clark (goal, nine assists), senior captain and forward Maddy Tassey (four goal, three assists) and senior forward Robin Goyette (two goals, three assists) also contributed heavily on offense.
Down the other end, senior captain Victoria Ryan and junior defenders Noelle Cornetta and Skylar Leonard were rocks in front of junior goalie Madi Savicke, who posted a 2.06 goals against average.
“Her best performance may have been the tie against Hanover,” Humphrey said of Savicke. “She made some impressive saves in that game. The Pembroke and Duxbury wins really showed how strong she is under pressure. She is an essential component of Whitman-Hanson field hockey.”
Humphrey said he expects the program to make another leap forward next fall.
“With the amount of returning players in key positions, I would say that we would have a very good opportunity to make the tournament,” said the coach. “I can see Ashley Sawtelle (sophomore defender), who will be replacing Victoria Ryan at the left defensive position, working well with veteran defensive players Noelle Cornetta and Skylar Leonard.”