By Gabriella Sorrentino, Staff Writer
The field hockey team, led by junior captain Sophia Hegel, coach Marion Richardson and assistant coach Alexa Carini, began its inaugural season as a fall sport and has already managed to obtain its first win.
The historical team, composed of both experienced and novice players, began practice this August to prepare for the fall season. Undeterred by the summer heat, the athletes worked hard to establish themselves as a competitive force in the Shore Conference.
“I think the way that the players treat one another with such respect has separated this team from others I have coached; their hard work and desire to improve has been great, but their ability to create a family-type atmosphere has really been a pleasure to see as a their coach,” Richardson said. “I am so proud of each of them and am so honored to be on this journey with them, as our junior center back Mara Galvin called it, to make ‘HERstory!’”
This hard work has translated into many close matches, including a tie against Keyport on September 20. Their most impressive accolade by far, however, was their win against Mater Dei on October 4. This victory will go down as the first ever for the field hockey program.
The game against Mater Dei was won by an impressive combination of both determination and hard work on the part of the athletes. Freshman Sarah Nejame gave the Monarchs the 1-0 lead after scoring on a penalty stroke, and sophomore Hannah McCarthy brought the score to 2-0 after scoring on a penalty corner.
McCarthy said it was gratifying for the team to win their first game. “It felt really good, especially the point in the game where the game took a turn, and we were battling so hard…We were all just so into it, we were just elevated to just do our best for the whole game after that.”
At the beginning of the season, the team was determined to win a game, and in their last few of the season, they hope to add to their win total. In addition to Nejame and McCarthy’s goals, freshmen Abby Stevens and Riley Raymond have also scored. Junior Alexa Sadowski leads the team in assists, and junior Alexandra Konczyk, a first-time goalie, has had more than 30 saves this season.
Freshmen players Juliana Scheick and Ellery Benedict also believe the atmosphere on the team has created a positive experience. “I used to swim, so playing on this team, there’s really a lot more bonding, which I think is really great,” Scheick said.
“I remember this one run, and I thought that the way the girls encouraged each other and clapped each other on was just really inspiring,” Benedict said.
The team also celebrated their first ever fan day on October 6, with members of the school community showing up to support the Monarch athletes. Konczyk said the support she received from the school community helped her during the game. “At the fan day on Saturday, it felt really good to have friends and fans there cheering us on, and just knowing their support was there really elevated our playing.”
Hegel feels the growth the team has experienced collectively made her field hockey season rewarding. “It’s been really great obviously, seeing how everyone has grown, myself included. There was definitely a learning curve in getting used to playing a new sport with a brand new team, so just seeing how the team has transitioned from knowing very little or none about the sport to communicating with each other and even winning [has been] great. I am so happy to be a part of it,” Hegel said.