Underclassmen making postseason waves for Greenfield field hockey

  • Greenfield's Katie Haselton (2) takes a shot against Oakmont Tuesday night. The sophomore is the de facto “veteran” of the Green Wave underclass contingent. FILE PHOTO/Dan Little

  • Greenfield freshman Racquel Provost has been a key contributor this fall. Provost, who starts the team’s dangerous corner attack, has nine goals on the year. FILE PHOTO/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 11/14/2018 10:11:50 PM

They may be young, but the underclassmen on the Greenfield High School field hockey team certainly don’t play like it.

While the senior class has powered the Green Wave into its first state championship appearance since 2002, the younger players have done more than their fair share this fall. While Greenfield has five seniors, and good ones at that, there are still six spots in the lineup where sophomores, freshmen and eighth-graders have carried the load in helping the program put itself in position to win its first state title since 1999.

Greenfield (20-2) meets South sectional champion Dennis-Yarmouth (20-0-3) Saturday at 1:30 p.m. for the Division 2 state championship at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

“These seniors have taught the younger kids a lot about the game, a lot about teamwork and a lot about the tradition of this program,” Greenfield coach Erin Thayer said. “And to their credit, these younger kids have stepped up and answered those challenges. It’s a testament to their hard work and drive. They want to do their part to keep that tradition going. For them to allow me to push them to be what they need to be, to be part of a successful team, and for them to just do what they’re being asked to do and learn, that says a lot about them as kids, athletes and people.”

There’s an age gap between the two factions. Greenfield has no juniors on the squad and only two sophomores — Katie Haselton and Jenna Elwell. Haselton is the de facto “veteran” of the underclassmen. A three-year varsity starter, Haselton is third on the team with 22 points, including 13 goals. Greenfield will largely be Haselton’s team next year.

“I’ve been starting since eighth grade so I feel like I’ve played a lot of varsity games at this point,” Haselton said. “The senior class leads the way here, but everyone knows their jobs regardless of what grade they’re in.”

The freshman class is loaded with starters and key contributors. Midfielder Kaylah Eggsware, who won a starting job midway through last season and has been a mainstay ever since, said this year’s deep postseason run has been a growing up experience to say the least.

“We’ve got 13 and 14 year olds playing in these big games and they’re not only playing but playing really well,” Eggsware said. “I know I’ve grown a lot since seventh grade but this year, everyone has had to pick up their game because we have such high goals that we need everyone on the same page to try and get there.”

Fellow freshman Racquel Provost, the team’s starting center back, is one of those players who has really turned it on. One of the most dangerous aspects of the Greenfield attack is its myriad of corners. Provost starts that engine, inserting the ball into the mixer to kick off those plays with seniors Raegan Hickey and Audrey Bresciano usually the recipients. Provost has had a fine all-around season, keying the team’s defensive effort while also scoring nine goals and adding three assists.

“I know I have to execute on those (corner) plays,” said Provost. “Especially in (tournament games), sometimes you don’t get many opportunities. Our corner plays are so strong that I have to make sure we’re in the right spots.”

And she’s done that. Several of Greenfield’s biggest goals this season have come on corners.

Eggsware and Provost aren’t the only freshman playing above their grade level during this magical run. After seeing some varsity minutes as an eighth-grader, Maddy Kuchieski has vaulted into one of the team’s top scorers as a freshman. Kuchieski is fourth on the Wave in scoring with 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists). She has points in three of the team’s four postseason games, including key assists in wins over South Hadley and Frontier.

“I knew I had to step up this year,” Kuchieski said. “I’m trying to be more aggressive. I don’t really care about scoring goals, to be honest. I just want to help the team win so I do what I can on offense and defense.”

Kuchieski said the team’s five seniors set the tone for the rest of the squad.

“I really look up to the seniors,” Kuchieski said. “They’ve set an example for all of us and I think that’s what makes us so good. Everyone knows what’s expected.”

Lucy Postera, Heather French, Emmaline Thurston and Lilly Remillard round out the freshman class.

Not to be outdone, Greenfield has also gotten production from a pair of eighth-graders in Lillia Kachelmeyer and Brielle Widelo. Kachelmeyer has seven goals to her credit, and she was an unsung hero in Tuesday’s state semifinal win over Oakmont when her hustle play led to a corner that resulted in the Wave’s first goal.

“Sometimes I actually forget they’re eighth-graders,” said Thayer. “They don’t present that way. They work hard and take in everything I’m telling them. (Kachelmeyer) is a bull. She’s a fighter who just battles for everything. Brielle has made some really great improvements over the course of the season. She’s helping in so many different ways that we need.”

The lights only shine brighter in the state championship game. The team’s underclassmen are well aware of what’s at stake when they tangle with Dennis-Yarmouth.

“It’s going to be crazy. Once in a lifetime,” said Haselton of Saturday’s final.

Provost agreed.

“It’s crazy to think about playing (in a state final),” she said. “We’ve got nothing to lose. We just need to come out with energy and play our game.”

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