By Dan Guttenplan
---- — BYFIELD — Donna Andersen feels as if her 20th season as the Triton field hockey coach will serve as a turning point for the program.
Evidently, the Cape Ann League coaches feel the same way, and Andersen was named CAL Kinney Division Coach of the Year at the league meeting Monday evening.
Andersen led the Vikings to a record of 7-8-3 after they struggled to a 1-17 campaign last fall. Triton finished one point short of qualifying for the state tournament.
“It’s about the group of kids I had this year,” Andersen said of the CAL honor. “I had eight seniors who were high-impact players and high-impact individuals. They really are a great group of kids.”
Triton’s senior class includes tri-captains Courtney Brown, Michaela Dunn and Emily Hirtle, along with classmates Kylie Gilroy, Kerstin Darsney, Peyton Hunt, Mackenzie Smith and Kaelyn Mercer. Those seniors adopted a year-round commitment to the field hockey program, encouraging underclassmen to do the same.
“They took the program and made everyone believe it’s important,” Andersen said. “They worked hard in the offseason, and finally, it showed on the field during the regular season. What they’ve done has made an impact.”
Triton entered the final week of its regular season needing three points in its final two games to qualify for the state tournament. The Vikings lost to Newburyport, 2-0, effectively ending their postseason dreams, before finishing off the season with a win over North Reading.
“Those eight seniors didn’t just stay within themselves, they had an impact on the freshmen, sophomores and juniors,” Andersen said. “They built a legacy, and those kids know Triton field hockey is exciting and growing. There’s a lot of positive energy around the program. Will they be missed? Absolutely, but they brought everyone up with them for future seasons.”