The 2021 fall season is in full effect, and the Kingswood Oxford varsity field hockey team (KOFH) seeks to make up for lost time after the COVID-19 pandemic marred all sports normalcy last year. Head Coach Chapin Yates looks to establish a winning culture in her debut season at the helm and lead the squad to a successful season.
“Our goal is stated in our mission statement: ‘KOFH strives to consistently bring 100% energy, positivity, and a supportive strong environment in order to have a successful season and have fun,’” Coach Yates said. “I have full confidence in this year’s program and believe we can accomplish a winning season with our drive and ability to play together as one unit.”
With a busy schedule and tough competition ahead, the girls are determined to improve their craft and build upon a game style that is fast, but also effectively incorporates ways to conserve energy.
“Practices have been lots of skill work and strategy lately,” senior midfielder Co-captain Abby McLaughlin said. “Since we have so much speed but not a lot of [substitutes], we’ve been working on minimizing our running and working on our press to keep the ball in our offensive zone.”
After a promising pre-season showing, the Wyverns kicked off the regular season on Tuesday, Sept. 14 with a dominant performance against Miss Porter’s School, cruising the opponent with a 10-1 victory. Senior forward Co-captain Alyssa Pavano had an exceptional performance with five goals and one assist. Senior midfielder Arie Lang, senior forward Olivia Kittleman, and McLaughlin also contributed goals and assists galore as the Wyvern advantage swelled. Senior goalie Caroline Boardman went the first three quarters without conceding a goal, impressively keeping the Daisies in check from start to finish. The girls swiftly jumped out to a 1-0 record on home turf and are driven to keep the momentum going.
The Wyverns traveled to Canterbury School on Wednesday, Sept. 22, and battled to a 1-1 tie in a low-scoring affair. Senior forward Co-captain Katharine Doar tallied the lone goal for the red and black on an assist from Lang, maintaining the slim edge until the Saints evened the score with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Following a scoreless overtime period, the girls left New Milford with a hard-earned draw while Boardman once again had a great outing in goal.
“That [game] exposed more of our weaknesses and showed us a few things we could improve on, which was great,” McLaughlin said.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, KOFH hosted Williston Northampton but ultimately fell 9-5 in a game with a lot more offensive output than their previous ones. The Wildcats were a strong opponent with a blistering attack, creating chances whenever they were in their offensive zone. Still, freshman forward Ella Wilson, junior midfielder Alle Kotowitz, Lang, and Pavano cashed in on the scoresheet for the Wyverns.
One of Coach Yates’s main goals this season is to push the girls to be the best players they can be but to also encourage them to always have fun and enjoy the time spent together. “The girls just love showing up every day, supporting each other and are great friends off the field,” Coach Yates said. “They work hard and have a lot of fun doing it!”
Doar elaborated on the strides that the team is making every week to play more cohesively on the field, as well as on the importance of having a normal season this year due to the great difficulties of last year.
“We have really good team chemistry,” Doar said. “The starting lineup works really well together and we connect well on the field. The captains and I want to have a fun, winning season this year. It’s also great to be back after not being able to have a real season last year.”
With a strong senior core anchoring the starting 11 players, the red and black are primed to compete for a spot in the NEPSAC Class B playoffs. This week, they head to Millbrook on Saturday, Oct. 9, and Kent on Wednesday, Oct. 13 before facing off against Ethel Walker on Friday, Oct. 15.