The Newburyport field hockey team will enter this year’s Division 2 North tournament with slightly less pressure than the last two seasons.
The biggest difference is this year’s team will not enter the postseason as the Cape Ann League Division 1 champion, as Masconomet captured that honor this season with a nearly perfect 15-0-3 record. That could be a welcome relief to the Clippers, who have fallen in the Division 2 North semifinals each of the last season while carrying the burden of being the CAL’s top representative.
“I do feel like we have less pressure because we graduated our four backs last year,” said coach Lauren Hefferan. “We didn’t win the Cape Ann League, it took us a while to get going. We’ve been playing from behind a lot this year.”
This season, the Clippers (13-2-3) earned the No. 4 seed in the bracket, drawing 13th seed Wayland (5-6-5) in an opening-round matchup tomorrow (4:30 p.m.) at Amesbury Sports Park. Newburyport, playing as the No. 2 seed last season, beat No. 10 Wayland 3-2 in the quarterfinal.
The Clippers will be looking to make a deep tournament run this season to punctuate a three-year run of marked success. The Clippers have gone 43-4-8 over the last three regular seasons and 3-2 in the postseason.
“We have a young team,” Hefferan said. “It’s going to be up in the air how we play. We’ll try to play our own game and keep our heads strong. Sometimes, we haven’t played that way against some harder opponents. Sometimes, we panic, so I want them to have fun, and finish the year however we finish the year.”
The only other local field hockey team scheduled to play in the postseason is Pentucket, which drew the No. 10 seed in Division 2 North. The Sachems (9-8-1) will visit No. 7 Lynnfield tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. Lynnfield (11-4-3) tied Pentucket 0-0 in the lone meeting between the teams this season Oct. 1.