High school field hockey: Different look for three-time champion Greenfield

  • Racquel Provost leads the charge while running sprints during Greenfield's first field hockey practice of the season Thursday at the high school. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Madyson Kuchieski runs through handling drills during Greenfield's first field hockey practice of the season Thursday at the high school. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Head coach Erin Thayer instructs her team before running sprints during Greenfield's first field hockey practice of the season Thursday at the high school. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Head coach Erin Thayer huddles up with her team after Greenfield's first field hockey practice of the season Thursday at the high school. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Katie Haselton runs through handling drills during Greenfield's first field hockey practice of the season Thursday at the high school. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Racquel Provost runs through handling drills during Greenfield's first field hockey practice of the season Thursday at the high school. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/22/2019 9:27:57 PM
Modified: 8/22/2019 9:27:45 PM

GREENFIELD — The winds of change blew through the fields behind Greenfield High School on Thursday morning.

As the three-time defending WMass champion field hockey team embarked on its first preseason practice of the fall, it did so without several of the familiar faces most prominently featured during its epic three-year title run.

For the first time in half a decade, the Green Wave opened camp without the likes of stalwarts Raegan Hickey, Samantha Smith and Audrey Bresciano. Last year’s senior class was one of the best in program history, and the trio helped lead Greenfield to the brink of a state championship in their final game. Hickey and Bresciano combined for 96 points and Smith posted 10 shutouts in net.

“That leadership is tough to replace. There’s no question about it,” Greenfield head coach Erin Thayer said Thursday as her young team weaved through cones during a stick-handling drill. “We have no seniors on this year’s team. We’ve got some talented players back from last year, but we need to find those leaders.”

Junior midfielder Katie Haselton was third on last year’s team in scoring with 22 points (13 goals, 9 assists), and she’ll be counted on even more so with Hickey and Bresciano now departed.

“It’s kind of up to us now to lead the way through,” said Haselton of the team’s few returning veteran players. “If someone is down on themselves, we have to push them to be better.”

Such was the case on Thursday. The temperatures were warm for the team’s first practice of the season, but the Wave players successfully completed the annual 2-mile run, followed by shuttle drills and sprints to conclude outing No. 1.

“Fundamentals are obviously our focus at the beginning of the season,” said Thayer, who begins her 14th season as head coach. “Every day, we focus on a different period of time. The first week, there’s going to be a lot of fundamentals and conditioning. We need to get much better in those areas if we want to try and be successful again.”

Sophomore Racquel Provost scored 10 goals last year, and she’s another veteran player who Thayer hopes will carry a leadership role in addition to keying the action in the field.

“Right now we have a few new players and people who are going to be doing different things so people like me and Katie, we have to step up and take control,” Provost said. “A lot of it comes from off the field. If we have that connection off the field, it will help on the field.”

Team chemistry has been strong with a veteran core returning over the past few seasons, keying the team’s three-year title run. Without those veterans back, how quickly can Greenfield regain that team trust?

“There’s a different bond right now so everyone needs to put in the work,” Haselton said. “We’ll get closer as the season goes along. It’s about improving every day.”

In addition to Haselton and Provost, there are several key contributors returning to the mix this fall. Sophomore Madyson Kuchieski and freshman Lillia Kachelmeyer both made their mark in 2018, while junior Jenna Elwell, sophomore Kaylah Eggsware and freshman Brielle Widelo also figured into the mix a year ago.

“To see how we progress all season, that’s going to be fun to watch, I think,” Thayer said. “We still have a lot of talent back. I’m excited to see where we go from the beginning of the season to the end because I think we’re going to improve quite a bit in that time.”




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