The Panthers will try to get their offense going this season.
There’s no magic recipe for fixing the Whitman-Hanson Regional High field hockey team’s offensive woes.
So, sixth-year W-H head coach Todd Humphrey is instituting an “act-like-you’ve-been-there approach.”
“Our forwards and midfielders need to be more poised when they shoot the ball when they are in the offensive zone,” said Humphrey, whose team finished 2-10-6 last fall, while scoring just 14 goals. “They also need to be the first to rebounds for second opportunities.”
The Panthers’ inability to create much of anything in transition was a major reason for their struggles on offense. This fall, senior captain Victoria Ryan is asked to quarterback the transition game for her post at left defender.
“She will need the help of her teammates,” Humphrey said. “Victoria comes up with ideas on how to improve the team and the program as a whole. She is willing to do anything on and off the field to support the program.”
The Panthers also return their two leading goal scorers from last season – juniors Lauren Clark (captain) and Delanie MacDonald – so that should help expedite the growth of the offense. MacDonald netted a team-high five goals, while Clark (starting left-center forward) poked home three last season.
“Lauren Clark is a speedy ball-handler and has a high-powered shot,” Humphrey explained. “She is truly passionate about field hockey and cares deeply about the program.”
“Delanie is great at taking advantage of opportunities in the offensive zone. She is quick at finding seams to the net and taking advantage of them.”
Senior Robin Goyette flanks Clark to her left as the starting left wing, while sophomore Lauren Dunn starts at right-center forward and senior captain Maddy Tassey anchors the right wing.
The midfield is occupied by sophomore Joli Flamos (left midfielder), Rosie MacKinnon (center midfielder) and Mary Kate Ryan (right midfielder). All factor in heavily to the Panthers’ strength – their speed.
“Our forwards and midfielders are fast,” said the coach. “We like to move the ball as quick as we possibly can through the neutral zone to give ourselves as many scoring chances as possible.”
In net, the Panthers return junior Madi Savicke, who posted a sparkling 1.67 goals against average last fall.
“She played exceptionally well for us last year,” Humphrey said. “She and the new-look defense are looking to gel early so they can lock down opposing offenses early in the season.”
After splitting time on the right side last year, juniors Noelle Cornetta and Skylar Leonard are now starters. Cornetta’s moved to center defender, while Leonard remains at right defender. Both have their work cut out for them, with the graduations of defenders Kathryn Dunn and Olivia Sheehan (now playing at Bridgewater State University), the team’s two lone league all-stars last season.
“Noelle and Skylar offer experience at the defensive position,” Humphrey said. “They both are quite good at playing in front of Madi.”
The Panthers are back on the field Thursday, Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. on the road with a league game against Silver Lake.
“I am looking forward to my players getting better at working together on the field,” Humphrey said. “The Patriot League is made up very talented teams, and we are going to need to be a unified front if we are going to push to the top of the standings.”