While the Huntington High School field hockey team understands the world is in the midst of the worst public health pandemic in a century, it still hurts to see the fall season postponed and moved to March-April. But the Blue Devils are shrugging off the change and expressing optimism that a young squad will mature quickly and be competitive.
Returning veterans Julie Rogel (All-Division goalie award), Grace Agrillo (Unsung Hero Award) and Laurel Bonn (All-Tournament) will lead Huntington into the 2021 campaign after capturing post-season awards last fall.
“While it was very disappointing to hear that our season is not taking place this fall, I am very excited to play in the spring,” said Rogel, who stopped 118 shots in the cage last year. “We are a young team, but the extra time before the start of the season gives us the opportunity to train and perfect our skills, so I am confident that we will do well this year.”
Head coach Kathy Wright and assistant coach Allison Conlon will build the team around the three returnees. The players and their teammates have been training on their own and preparing themselves for the season. Pre-season team workouts are expected to begin soon.
“Just like every other fall sport athlete, I am definitely upset about the switch with the field hockey season,” Bonn said. “Field hockey is such a happy sport and our team really is a family. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss two-a-days and three mile runs with my team! Postponing the season is definitely not what anyone wanted, but we are still going to make the most of our upcoming season. All of us have been practicing at home and trying to become better players to hopefully show off our team’s improvement in March. We are ready to play!”
Huntington is also returning Gemma Cartwright, Andrea Delcid, Isabella DiBenedetto, Mackenzie Eccles, Tessie Maerz, Lisa Martin, Gianna Prosseda, Tess Stanley, Stephanie Wickey, Riley Zink, Carlee Schultz, Kaci McDonald, Erin Scanlon and Grace Allen.
“I was sad and disappointed about the postponement,” Agrillo said. “I miss my teammates and playing. It is going to be a tough year for us because we lost so many of our seniors. We will definitely need all the practice time together that we can get. That being said, I can’t wait to start playing and to see my teammates again.”
The Blue Devils lost seven seniors from last year’s team to graduation, including Anna Wickey, Holly Wright, Megan Byrnes, Maya Santa-Maria, Lauren LoScalzo, Brooke Biernacki and Madelyn Kye. It’s a lot of talent to lose all at once, but the returning varsity veterans are determined to come together and produce a winning squad.
“I was really looking forward to playing field hockey since it’s my senior year and I wanted to do a lot of fun activities with my team,” Delcid said. “I was really sad to find out that we won’t be playing until March, but we’re going to try to make the most out of it. The team is really excited to play and we’ve all been staying in touch about what’s going on with the season. We have a lot of new teammates joining us as well, which is also exciting. We’re all excited to get back into the routine and play games again.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has led Section XI to push back the start of athletic competition to January 4 when winter sports will kick off. Fall sports will be played in March-April with spring sports to follow.
“I was a bit disappointed to hear about the switch, but I definitely thinks it’s best to do it when we have a better chance for a full season and because it allows for extra practice,” Zink said. “The team is actually looking pretty good this year as we have all been working on our individual skills while in quarantine. We lost a lot of amazing players, teammates and friends to graduation last June, but we have gained some new players. This year with everything happening and the loss of so many seniors, there is no pressure. Although it’s my senior year and of course we all love to win, I am excited to have no pressure because I feel as if it will make us work better as a team and hopefully bring home many stress free wins.”
While the Blue Devils are like everyone else in the world who wish COVID-19 never surfaced and spread across the globe, the coaches and players are also realistic and understand that it wasn’t possible to play during the regular fall season. Now everyone is excited for the spring to come.
“I was looking forward to having the season in September, but I’m happy we’ll still be able to have it in the spring,” DiBenedetto said. “I’m confident that we’re going to have a very good season this year and I can’t wait to start playing with the team again.”