Gwen Merrifield is one of five seniors for the Plymouth field hockey team this fall. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
September 16, 2020PLYMOUTH — The heartache of the lost spring season weighs heavily on the girls of the Plymouth field hockey team.
And as such, the girls approach each day happy to be able to come together and practice and hopefully look forward to a new season.
"We are excited and very grateful that we have been able to get in as many practices as we can," said veteran coach Ashley Laufenberg. "Many of the girls felt the heartache from last spring season, so we approach each practice just thankful that we can be there together in person.
"Obviously we are trying our best to make sure that girls are taking proper precautions to stay well, including staying home if they develop symptoms," she added. "Hopefully our numbers stay strong as we go through the season."
Regarding those numbers, Laufenberg's squad is leaning heavily toward the younger kids, as there is a total of 17 new freshmen joining the program this year.
"We have a small group of returning girls to varsity who have been able to see time the past seasons, but we have a number of girls trying out for positions that need to be filled."
The downside to the situation with the large number of freshmen is the fact that the Bobcats are playing a regionalized schedule, where many of the smaller schools that they are playing do not have a full JV program and some do not have a JV program at all.
"I'm already hopeful that some of those younger girls will start to join the varsity group as the season progresses," the Bobcat coach stated.
The Bobcats have a trio of senior captains in Holly Hoyt, Emma Webster and Ellen Ryan. Hoyt will play on the front line, Webster will anchor the midfield and Ryan will be on defense. Fellow seniors Gwen Merrifield (midfield) and Holly Phillips (forward) also return to give the Bobcats a senior presence across the lineup.
Six juniors return to the fold for the Bobcats, with Maya Duarte, Olivia Homer and Audrey Fields in the midfield, Tori Whitcher on defense and Kati Demas and Rylei Keefe up front.
Olivia Gauthier returns to the forward line for her sophomore campaign, while classmates Ashley Bennett and Chloe Bouchard are in the midfield and Grace Bannon and Madison Hershey will help out on defense. Fellow sophomore Ashley Bannon will be the team's goalie.
The compacted schedule includes two games each with traditional rivals Kennett and Kingswood plus a pair of games with Laconia, three games with Winnisquam and one with neighboring Newfound.
"We will take each game as it comes and make the adjustments as we need to," Laufenberg said. "The girls are working hard and coming together as a team and will embrace each opportunity they get to play this season."
As a "moderate risk" sport, as deemed by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, field hockey can officially begin interscholastic competition on Sept. 18, and the Bobcats will do just that, traveling to Bristol to take on the Newfound Bears in a 4 p.m. tilt. The team is in action on Monday, Sept. 21, at home against Kennett at 4 p.m. and will be at Kennett on Wednesday, Sept. 23, for a 4:30 p.m. game.
Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or email@example.com.