By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Grafton – If there’s one thing for sure that Grafton High School varsity field hockey head coach Lisa Kittredge has learned in her 19 years guiding the Indians to many successful campaigns, it’s the age-old reassuring adage familiarly known as “don’t panic.”
Her 2016 squad could have easily done just that after opening the season with four consecutive losses to tough opponents (Quaboag, Oxford, Auburn, Hopedale) who limited the Grafton attack to just a single goal over that period.
But the word “capitulation” has never been and never will be in Kittredge’s personal lexicon and once again this season, she has proven just that. Since the rough-sledding start, the team has responded with four wins in six tries, the latest being a pair of shutout victories over Blackstone-Millville and David Prouty. The team record currently sits at 4-5-1 with prospects for post-season play well in sight.
“After those first few losses we learned to persevere,” senior co-captain Delaney Burke explained. “We got right back into it and refused to let those losses get us down. We worked really hard and after that first win, we really got the ball rolling. We figured out how to work and communicate with each other.”
“At the beginning of the season, we definitely had our problems,” added fellow co-captain Maddie Cummings. “But we’ve worked through that and are moving on. We’re all friends and that brings us closer together.”
In the Oct. 4 contest versus visiting Blackstone-Millville, it was junior forward Allison Corcoran cashing in on a pair of first half goals to lead the Indians to a 2-0 triumph over the Chargers. Twenty four hours later it was David Prouty heading to town but the greeting would not be a warm one. Grafton tallied five teams en route to the 5-0 victory with Elizabeth Martel, Meredith Broad, Jess Hamilton, Kristin Brawn and Chloe Sanfacon each finding the back of the Panther net. Goalkeeper Delaney Smolinski recorded both shutouts.
“These kids have a lot of grit and they understand that we started the season with a very tough schedule,” said Kittredge. “My kids kept plugging away and we just tried to get better every game and every day.
“If we can stay focused and stay competitive we can make Districts. We need to work hard every game and that is one of my expectations and so far, they’re living up to it. If they make a mistake, that’s ok, just build upon it. Good fundamentals and communication make good teams.”
One aspect of this 2016 team, as well as others in the past is the likeability of players and the closeness that has strengthened the team moving forward despite the early-season troubles. Having fun and being serious often have their own boundaries but this group has learned to determine when it’s time to switch from one mode to another.
“Coaching for so long, you get to know when you can be totally serious and when you have to let up and let them giggle and laugh,” Kittredge said. “This is a team where I find myself giggling and laughing with them a little bit more. They’re great kids and supportive of one another on and off the field.”
Members of the 2016 Grafton High varsity field hockey team are seniors Delaney Burke (F), Maddie Cummings (D), Kylie Matuzek (D), Elizabeth Martel (F), Ella Magan (D), Caroline King (M), Delaney Smolinski (G); juniors Kristin Brawn (M/F), Jessica Hamilton (M), Meredith Broad (F), Madison Sullivan (D), Allison Corcoran (F), Maggie Oftring (M), Kayla Sullivan (M) along with sophomores McKenzie Callaghan (D), Chloe Sanfacon (M), Ashton Carlson (M), Melissa Auger (G) and Delaney Pilotte (G).