By Jim Sullivan
---- — They say, in hockey, you are only as good as your goalie, and that is something Newburyport field hockey coach Lauren Hefferan can agree with. After matriculating four-year goalie Kendra Dow in the spring, Heffernan knew she had her work cut out for her.
“The goalie is a big part of it,” said Hefferan. “Because once they get by your defense, you have to have a goalie that is going to be able to be impressive and get on the ball and know what they’re doing.”
Amidst a season in which the Clippers (4-3-1) only have three seniors on the squad after losing nine from last year, Hefferan has decided to use a pair of juniors, Lauren Singer and Meg Des Autel, to switch off standing in the Clippers’ net.
“It’s working well,” Hefferan said of her dueling goalies. “They’ve had some good games, and then they have had some mistakes. But they are learning. I’ve seen (Des Autel) come a long way and Lauren as well. They are coming along. They are clearing the ball better. They are keeping their legs together better, and they are communicating to the defense, which is a big difference.”
It was Des Autel who was in net against Manchester Essex (7-0-1) at the Amesbury Sports Park yesterday. Des Autel was able to hold the Hornets to a 2-0 lead before the half and would only allow one more in the last five minutes of play in the 3-0 loss.
“I feel like I played okay,” Des Autel said of yesterday’s tilt. “I could have been better, especially not having Lauren here and going in for the whole game. That’s not something I have done in a while.”
“Some of it was defensive problems,” Hefferan said of Des Autel’s game. “We let a girl dribble in and take a shot on goal. Nobody picked her up. The old field’s dynamics are changing.”
Riding a hot junior goalie herself in Hayley Malloy, Hornets coach Kara Beauregard was impressed with Des Autel.
“We applied a lot of pressure, and she made some great saves,” said Beauregard. “We came out really intense in the first half, and in the second half, not that our intensely changed, but that’s where I saw her making some of those second and third shots saves. So, for a team to shoot two, three times, it does get frustrating for the shooters.”
Currently in her first year of varsity, Des Autel has been playing field hockey since her freshman season.
“My Aunt Laura, when she was in high school, she played goalie,” Des Autel said of her inspiration to play in net. “And when I came in as a freshman, and I saw that position, I really wanted to take it. I think goalie is a really neat position. It may not seem like they do much, but it is a lot. It’s fun to be able to help people from all the way in the back of the field.”
After being the only goalie on last year’s JV team, Des Autel is elated to be sharing the varsity net with Singer who was ill yesterday and unable to comment.
“It’s interesting and it’s fun being on this team, but it is a lot of work,” Des Autel admitted. “There is a lot of pressure. There is another goalie who is just as good. But I do plan on improving.”