Knights’ Field Hockey Resilient During Difficult Campaign
Senior Bailey Roberts (right) and the Westbrook field hockey team posted a record of 2-3-3 this year. Roberts earned All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors this year for the Knights. Also pictured is sophomore Myan Nguyen. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior Karen Sicha earned All-Shoreline Conference Second Team honors this season as well as the Knights’ Most Improved Player Award. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior Cierra Brundage claimed All-Shoreline Conference Second Team recognition for her defensive contributions for Westbrook this season. Also pictured is senior Brooke Neri. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior Brooke Neri earned the Knights’ Coaches’ Award for her team-first mentality and willingness to do whatever she could in the name of Westbrook’s success. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
The Westbrook field hockey squad turned in a solid season despite the many challenges presented this year. The Knights posted a record of 2-3-3 on the year and were unable to take part in the Shoreline Conference Tournament due to Westbrook High School’s temporary shutdown resulting from rising positive tests of COVID-19.
Head Coach Janet Dickey thought her squad performed admirably, especially given the circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Coach Dickey even thought that her student-athletes often showed more resiliency than she and Assistant Coach Emily McCabe Alger did.
“I thought we managed very well with what we were given to manage with—the masks, the slow intro to the season, being in just our Shoreline games,” Dickey said. “The girls did a great job managing it. At times, they did a better job than Em and I did.”
The Knights had a solid foundation built on their seven seniors. Senior captain goalie Lauren Horne was the rock of the team, and each of the other seniors served as game captains at different points throughout the season.
“Lauren Horne was the team captain, then each one of the games another senior was named a co-captain. That way each one of them got an opportunity to be the speaking captain at a game and do the coin toss. We got through the whole rotation so that was good, too,” said Dickey. “Lauren was great with it. She was clearly the leader from last year on. They all do it together anyway as a tight-knit group. It wasn’t a big deal on whose day it was. Each stepped into it very naturally.”
Horne earned All-Shoreline Conference First Team recognition for her contributions in front of the cage, as well as the Knights’ Most Outstanding Player Award. Also earning first-team honors was senior Bailey Roberts, who proved a stalwart defender in the backfield.
“The unfortunate thing for Lauren is that we didn’t have out-of-league teams like the Granbys and the Cantons of the world to showcase her talent against. We missed out on a couple of the Shoreline teams, as well. Lauren was hands down the reason we had a 0-0 tie with Old Saybrook. Her defense in the net was amazing. She stopped some point-blank, one-on-one shots,” Dickey said. “Bailey’s an outstanding defender, and she will do anything to keep the ball out of the net. She was kind of the field general in the backfield. She had two outside senior defensemen, too. She helped keep everyone organized and where they needed to be.”
Earning All-Shoreline Conference Second Team honors for the Knights were seniors Cierra Brundage and Karen Sicha. Sicha also garnered Westbrook’s Most Improved Player Award. Both athletes proved versatile in their on-field abilities, which made their coaches’ jobs a lot easier.
“Cierra’s flexibility was huge. She could play anywhere I needed her to. She’s a very disciplined player, and she works to correct things. She’s a great student of the game and asks lots of questions. She ended up solidly in right defense this year, but her having played midfield and attack in prior years helped her. She knew where people should be and where the ball needed to go,” said Dickey. “Karen had been a defender for us. When we had people out, we threw in her in at right mid, and she was critical in holding down the midfield against Old Saybrook. She works really hard. She’s out there on her own doing it. That’s something you can’t coach.”
Westbrook’s seniors weren’t the only players drawing attention across the league. Sophomore Delaney Belcourt garnered All-Shoreline Conference Honorable Mention.
“I think Delaney stood out to the other coaches because she was very vocal. She carried herself more maturely than a sophomore would. I love that,” Dickey said. “I don’t care who’s speaking out there. I think every one should. It’s rare for a sophomore to be out there on a team with seven seniors chatting out there. I’m excited to see what the future holds for her over these next few years and see how she progresses.”
Senior Brooke Neri earned Westbrook’s Coaches’ Award for her dedication to the team and doing whatever was necessary for the Knights’ success. Coach Dickey believed Neri also would have received league recognition if she didn’t have to miss games due to potential exposure to the coronavirus.
“Brooke has that self-starter mentality. She asks questions and is an all-around outstanding student of the game. She would watch collegiate games to pick up on different strategies,” Dickey said. “She had two less games than everyone else. She could have had a Shoreline award if she had gotten some more goals and assists. She’s really speedy and great at ball handling.”
Two other seniors had a heavy hand in the Knights’ success this season, Marguerite Bartlett and Megan Greaves.
“Marguerite has always been a hard worker. We never questioned the effort she was giving every single day,” said Dickey. “Megan was another versatile player and a scoring threat at any given time. She also had a fantastic jab and block tackle that helped when we needed defense up front.”
With seven seniors graduating from the team, next year’s squad will require several players to step into bigger roles. Coach Dickey believes that Westbrook will be in good hands with two capable juniors in Gabriella Koplas and Samantha Nunez, as well as a capable sophomore class. Dickey also anticipates that the goalie of the future is already on the roster in freshman Abby Demers.
“I look at who we’ve got and what they have, and then we have to figure out what we’ll do. It’s the nature of sheer numbers. We take what we have and make a system that works. That’s why our kids are so flexible, and why they were out there having fun this year. It’s not taking a mold and shoving things into it; it’s shaping things and determining how the pieces are going to work,” said Dickey. “Abby Demers was trained by Lauren and has a great foundation. She’s already working hard in the offseason. We’ve got our two juniors in Sam Nunez and Brie Koplas, and the sophomore class is really solid.”
This season may have ended in a disappointing fashion with the Knights not able to compete in Shorelines, but Coach Dickey knows that her student-athletes were grateful for every minute of play they got.
“It is what it is, and you just have to try to move on. The seniors were bummed, but at least they got a Senior Day at the beginning of October. I think they feel that they were coming together at the right time, but they can’t do anything about it,” said Dickey. “If you ask any one of them, they are still thankful they got to play. Any day they got together to practice or play was a good day.”