Sunderland’s Esposito garners field hockey award at Lasell

  • Sunderland’s Mindy Esposito carries the ball for the Lasell field hockey team against MIT earlier this season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LASELL ATHLETICS

  • Sunderland’s Mindy Esposito makes a play for the Lasell field hockey team against Anna Maria earlier this season in Newton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LASELL ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/20/2019 9:29:39 PM

During her early years at Frontier Regional School, Mindy Esposito had no interest in playing collegiate field hockey. While she starred on the pitch for the Red Hawks, the desire to continue her athletic career at the next level didn’t come about until the end of her junior year in South Deerfield.

“That’s when I realized that I didn’t want my next year to be my last year … I wanted to keep playing,” Esposito said.

Fast forward a bit, and the Sunderland native certainly has no regrets about that decision. Esposito capped a standout four-year career with the Lasell University field hockey program earlier this month. The Lasers were Great Northeast Athletic Conference runners-up this fall, losing to Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, 4-0, in the title game on Nov. 9.

While the loss brought the senior’s career on the field to an end, she was recognized as the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year while also earning selection to the All-Conference First Team.

“Coming here and playing, it was definitely the best decision for me,” said Esposito of Lasell. “I met some friends who will be friends for the rest of my life. Coming out of Frontier, we were a championship-winning team there. That was our goal (at Lasell). Unfortunately, we didn’t quite get that but we made it to the championship my last three years here and the program sort of took a turn forward.”

Esposito ran the midfield line for Frontier during her senior year, and former coach Missy Mahar said she had the work ethic to succeed at the next level.

“Mindy was a hard-worker. She was a great worker on the field, really executed everything nicely for us,” Mahar said. “She worked really hard to play as well as she did and that’s something I’ll always remember her for ... her work ethic. Her senior year, she really flourished.”

That senior year featured a Western Mass. Division 2 title, as Frontier beat Greenfield, 3-1, before falling in overtime to Auburn in the state semifinals.

“Missy sort of made us want to be winners,” Esposito began. “To be there every day, show up hungry to win. That’s half the battle, actually wanting to be there. Playing high-stake games in high school, winning championships, that got me ready for the higher competition in college and having that expectation that I want to win.”

Upon graduation, Esposito chose Lasell and contributed immediately on the Newton campus. She earned a starting nod the first game of her freshman year and continued that trend for all four years. She’ll graduate in the spring with a degree in early education, and plans to pursue her Master’s degree from the school immediately in hopes of being a kindergarten or first-grade teacher.

“I think that when I actually got here, this definitely seemed like the place I wanted to be,” she said of the decision. “It’s a small school, and the school does a great job getting you in the classroom early so I got a lot of (teaching) experience I wouldn’t have gotten at other schools.”

This year, the senior back anchored a Laser defense that posted four shutouts and finished with a 1.67 goals against average. She started all 20 games, and was regularly assigned to defend the left side against the opponents’ top-scoring forwards. Esposito also contributed two goals on offense.

“I started off as a young player who had some skill but I think over time, I’m a very vocal person on the field so as I got older and more comfortable with the team, I became more and more of a leader,” Esposito said.

Lasell went 10-10 overall this year, posting a 5-3 mark in the GNAC. The program beat Simmons, 2-0, in the conference tournament semifinals before falling to St. Joseph’s in the title-tilt. Esposito said the Defensive Player of the Year accolade was a welcomed surprise.

“I didn’t quite think I was Defensive Player of the Year so it was a huge shock for me,” she said. “I was not expecting that. I think coach looks to me as a leader, wants me to be a communicator. I felt supported by coach to be vocal and have a presence in the back and I think that helped me feel more confident as a player.”

Conway native and former Frontier teammate Izzy Contois also closed out her senior season at Lasell, and the duo were fixtures in the middle of the action throughout the fall for the Lasers. Contois, who studies sport management at Lasell, scored three goals and added two assists, starting 18 of the team’s 20 games.

“We had a very strong senior class,” Esposito said. “Izzy coming from Frontier also, it was nice to have that familiarity for both of us.”

It was an eventful season in many ways for Esposito. The hard-nosed defender lived up to that billing in a game against Rivier University last month, when she split her face open defending a penalty corner.

“I dove across the goal to save a shot but when the girl tried to hit the ball again, she hit my face,” Esposito recalled.

Four stitches later, she was back to fighting shape.

“That was definitely a memorable play from the season,” she said with a laugh.

As for the future, Esposito said she wants to stay involved in the sport, but opportunities to play field hockey out of college are few and far between.

“It’s definitely harder to find what we call ‘Old lady leagues,’” she said. “There are a few around the Boston area, some pick-up games over the summer. I’d like to get into coaching at some point, whether it’s field hockey or another sport. We’ll see.”

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