Knights’ Field Hockey Grew Closer and Cohesive On and Off the Field
The Westbrook-Old Lyme field hockey team certainly had an impressive campaign on the turf this year by posting nine overall victories and returning to the Class S state dance for the first time in three years. Even more of a standout is what they did off the turf, as the Knights continued to strengthen their bonds and became a more cohesive club.
Head Coach Janet Dickey and W-OL finished the regular season with a solid 8-6-2 mark, good enough to qualify for the Shoreline Conference and Class S State Tournaments–the Knights’ first berth to the draw since 2019 for the latter bracket.
Once in the conference tournament, the Knights fell by a slim 1-0 margin to North Branford in the semifinals on Nov. 1. Then, as the No. 13 seed in the state tourney, W-OL notched a thrilling 1-0 victory over another Shoreline rival in No. 20 Haddam-Killingworth in overtime for the qualifying round on Nov. 7. The season concluded, though, for the Knights’ in their next outing–dropping a
7-0 contest to No. 4 Immaculate in the first round on Nov. 8 to cap the season campaign at 9-8-2 overall.
Dickey summarized that as the Knights hit their tandem of big-picture goals in terms of postseason qualification, they additionally accomplished the feats by taking everything in a piecemeal approach and living in the moment.
“Before the season, we talked about small, weekly goals of winning games,” said Dickey. “They met goals and exceeded expectations. We played in both the Shoreline and state tournaments. We went to Immaculate in States; we were the No. 13 seed and they were the 4th, and we did well in that game. I was overall pleased with how we did this year.”
While the Knights ended up going 0-3 overall against the premier program of their league in North Branford, the results from those trio of tangles as time wore on told a much bigger story. W-OL also saw great development when taking matchups into extra sessions as it forged on through the fall.
“One of the bigger accomplishments was the tight game we played against North Branford in Shorelines,” Coach Dickey said. “They did not score until the start of the fourth quarter. We lost 3-0 on the road to them at the beginning of the year, and then they beat us 3-1 at home. So you can see the progression right there versus a team like North Branford, who is the benchmark for the Shoreline. We also had three overtime wins at the end of the year after we had two overtime ties at the start of the year.”
This was the second season that the schools of Westbrook and Old Lyme acted as a co-op club. Headed up by strong senior leadership, the Knights displayed unequivocally that there was no division between the campuses and their respective members.
“We had great leadership with all the seniors in helping bonding and jelling the team together,” Dickey said. “They were a self-starting group. They learned to be on schedule, maintain it, and be self-sufficient. I loved coming to practice and seeing that you could not tell the two schools apart; they were so blended in. The girls hung out together no matter what school they were from. It is stuff like that I live for above any wins or championships. It was great to see them develop into confident women.”
Regarding postseason honors, senior co-captain Delaney Belcourt was named First Team All-State with classmate Caroline Dias making Second Team. At the conference circuit, the same duo notched First Team All-Shoreline distinction, senior Myan Nguyen secured a Second Team slot, and an Honorable Mention was bestowed to freshman Brooke Ouellette. Belcourt was also bestowed with the Shoreline Conference’s new Patsy Kamercia award, named after the former H-K coach.
Speaking more to her senior class, Dickey praised them for not only their efforts on the field, but more importantly, their knack to unite despite interacting with unfamiliar faces and tall tasks.
“Delanie has been the emotional leader of this team really since her freshman year. [Senior co-captain] Kylie Dishaw was the same,” Dickey said. “All of the seniors led on the field, and they were great leaders for the underclassmen to look up to. They set a great tone for the program going forward. They left a legacy of how to blend with people you don’t know and how to work together.”
There will certainly be some vacancies to fill next season after parting ways with the dynamic senior group, though the Knights certainly have the pool of prodigal, young talent to build upon the strides made in 2022.
“We will have some holes to fill with the seniors leaving, but I am confident that we have the kids to fit right in,” said Dickey. “We had 14 freshmen in the entire program this year, and several of them had varsity time. We will be a young, but competitive team. Training in the offseason will be a huge factor for us.”
Finally, Dickey declared that this run was a bridge to hopefully even bigger successes in the near future. Even as she projected her parting comments on this campaign, she will certainly keep this squad near and dear to her heart.
“This year meant a stepping stone onto a new plateau,” said Dickey. “This was the first time we made States since we went to the semifinals in 2019. This year was a building process about what you have to do in order to rebuild, whether it is concerning a team, schedule, or daily life. I will certainly miss the energy of this team.”
The 2022 roster for W-OL included seniors Nguyen, Halley Pierson, Dias, Belcourt, Dishaw; juniors in Emma Bransfield, Abby Demers, Keara Ward; sophomores of Selina Erekson, Eimy Novillo, Megan Bache, Gabriella Ziegler; and then freshmen with Sybil Neary, Anne-Marie Hinckley, Annabelle Coppola, Katherine Ford, Brooke Ouellette, Alyssa Leandri, and Katherine Zhang.