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09/08/2022 12:10 PM

Branford Field Hockey Enters Season with Experienced Team

Senior captain Scout Engstrom and the Branford field hockey team have great aspirations as they hit the field with a roster full of experienced athletes this season. Photo by Susan Lambert/The Sound Photo courtesy of Susan Lambert
Lauren Kendrick returns for her senior season as a captain with the Hornets after earning All-SCC and All-State accolades last year. Photo by Susan Lambert/The Sound Photo courtesy of Susan Lambert
Senior Gianna Bozzi will be one of the players anchoring the defense for the Branford field hockey squad during the 2022 campaign. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound Photo courtesy of Kelley Fryer

The Branford field hockey team enters the 2022 season featuring a roster filled with experienced players. Head Coach Pete Frye believes that the Hornets have the potential to make their mark at both the SCC and state levels if they can come together and play Branford’s brand of field hockey.

Branford is coming off of a season that saw the team post an overall record of 12-6-0-1 on its way to qualifying for the SCC Tournament and the Class M State Tournament. The Hornets will begin their new campaign by playing a road game against New Canaan on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 1:30 p.m.

Before he was the Hornets’ head coach, Frye served as the head coach of the field hockey team at Walsh Intermediate School. As a result, he’s had the opportunity to coach many of the players on this year’s squad for the majority of their careers. As several of these players enter their senior seasons, Coach Frye is eager to see Branford’s athletes show off their growth and finish their time in the program with a flourish.

“I’m hoping we can be one of the better teams in Class M this year. We certainly have the skillset,” Frye said. “There’s a couple of girls on this team where I’ve been their coach for seven or eight years. That’s really a rarity. It has been a great ride. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store.”

This season, Branford is being led by four senior captains in Scout Engstrom, Lauren McCarthy, Lauren Kendrick, and Gianna Bozzi. Engstrom, a center forward, earned All-SCC First Team and All-State Class M First Team accolades last year. Coach Frye called Engstrom the leader of the Hornets’ offense and said that she’s always controlling the ball.

Kendrick, who also plays forward, was selected to the All-SCC Second Team and the All-State Class M Second Team in 2021. Frye said that Kendrick has come on strong the past couple of years and is a solid playmaker with the ball on her stick.

McCarthy plays the center midfield position for Branford. Coach Frye said that McCarthy does a little bit of everything on the field, calling her the team’s “Energizer Bunny” who keeps the Hornets running at all times.

Bozzi is Branford’s leader on defense with Frye describing her the “heart and soul” of his squad. Frye said that Bozzi is a quality lacrosse player who makes great decisions and provides the Hornets with emotional leadership.

Branford’s senior class also includes Aryana Wilson, who was an All-SCC Second Team honoree last year, along with Gianna Bonanno, Gabriella Morrotti, and first-year player Jade Bocciarelli, who had previously served as the team’s manager and will be the backup goalie this season. Coach Frye feels that all eight seniors will be crucial for Branford’s success and said that each one of them has proven to be a strong leader with the Hornets.

“The entire senior class are good role models for the entire team,” said Frye. “We’re really lucky this year to have such great kids to lead us.”

Engstrom and Kendrick will be leading the charge on offense for Branford this year. The duo will be joined by Bonanno and freshman Aliza Giordano, who was a standout player on the Walsh field hockey team.

Branford’s midfield is being anchored by McCarthy and three returning juniors in Mia d’Amuri, Ellie Wieland, and Reanna Sachs. From the attack to the midfield, Coach Frye said that his team is returning a solid group of athletes who have necessary skills to help the Hornets score their fair share of goals.

“They’ve all played a lot of varsity field hockey. They played even when they were freshmen,” Frye said. “We’ve got a lot of experience in our front seven.”

The pairing of Gianna Bozzi and Wilson will serve as Branford’s foundation on defense this season. Frye said that he’s also expecting junior Allison McCarthy to play a big role on the defensive end of the field.

Junior Julia Bozzi, who is in her first year on the varsity team, will be Branford’s starting goalie. Coach Frye said that Bozzi looks ready to step into the varsity goalie role as she replaces the graduated Nina Shamas in the cage.

Last year, the Hornets claimed a 1-0 win versus Hand in the SCC Tournament quarterfinals and then took a 4-1 loss to Guilford in the semis, after which they lost to Hand by a 3-0 score in the first round of the state draw. With so many returning players, Coach Frye feels confident that Branford has all the right pieces to advance further in the postseason this year. The key will be how those pieces fit together on the field.

“This team doesn’t have a ceiling in Class M. They can go as far as they want,” said Frye. “Last year, we beat [Hand] two out of the three times we played them. We played Guilford better than just about anybody. They really can go as far as they want to. They just have to show up and bring the effort every single time. All the pieces are there. It’s just a matter if they fall together.”

As the Hornets try to find the right combination for another strong season, Coach Frye will be looking for his players to mesh cohesively and focus on what they can control. Branford’s roster is loaded with veteran athletes. Coach Frye believes that the Hornets will succeed if they put their experience to good use and continue concentrating on the things that have made Branford field hockey such a strong program over the years.

“It’s them learning to trust and rely on each other and hold each other accountable to give their best effort every game,” Frye said. “There’s very few things you control in a field hockey game. The one thing you control is your effort that you put out there. Control the controllables. Work on controlling those things and doing it to the best of your ability.”

2022 Branford Field Hockey Schedule

Saturday, Sept. 10: at New Canaan at 1:30 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 12: vs. Lauralton Hall at 6:45 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 16: at Sacred Heart Academy at 4 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 20: vs. Hamden at 3:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 27: at Hand at 7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 29: vs. Cheshire at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 30: vs. Sheehan at 6:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 4: vs. North Haven at 3:45 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 7: at Shelton at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 8: vs. Newtown at 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 11: at Amity at 4 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 13: at Lyman Hall at 3:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 18: at Mercy at 4 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 20: vs. Guilford at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 25: vs. Wilton at 6:45 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 27: vs. North Branford at 6:30 p.m.