Jessica Delacey had long pegged 2020 as potentially a banner year for her Newburyport field hockey program.
Even dating back to the beginning of her tenure as the Clippers' coach, Delacey saw that the group of Callie Beauparlant, Maddie Medeiros, Ashley Ventura and Shannon Brennan had the potential to be great. The quartet excelled in the youth and middle school programs, and upon their arrival as high school freshmen they immediately made their mark.
Four years later, the promise of that group has been realized. Newburyport finished this strange pandemic-disrupted season with an 8-2 record and the program's first CAL Kinney title since 2011, and the four senior captains were at the heart of the team's success. But with the four set to graduate, Newburyport won't be able to count on them going forward, so will the Clippers still be able to contend?
Based on the returning roster, absolutely.
Girls like Beauparlant, Medeiros, Ventura and Brennan aren't the sort who can easily be replaced, but one of the Clippers' great strengths this fall was that they weren't a top heavy team. Newburyport will return a sizable portion of its roster on both offense and defense, which should allow the Clippers to remain in contention for the CAL Kinney title in the years to come.
Offensively, sophomore Lilly Ragusa is already a star and was the area's third leading scorer with 6 goals and 5 assists, and freshman Olivia McDonald (3 goals, 3 assists) made an immediate impact in her first season. Junior Meghan Murray (2 goals, 1 assist) is also expected to play a larger role as a senior, and freshman Rita Cahalane (2 goals, 2 assists) had some key contributions early as well.
Defensively, Emily Fuller, Hannah Cronin and Lila Gridley will all be seniors, Kiara Farrar a junior and Katie Conway a sophomore, giving Newburyport a talented and experienced core to build on. Starting goalie Jane Mettling will also return as a junior, meaning Newburyport will have veterans all over the field when the new season begins early next fall.
Georgetown's big breakthrough
The long struggling Georgetown field hockey team enjoyed its best season of the past decade this fall, finishing 6-2-2 to wrap up the year with its highest win total since at least 2012. That's especially impressive given that the Royals played half as many games as usual due to the pandemic, and while Georgetown did not win the CAL Baker title, the team was in contention up until the final days of the season.
Will Georgetown be able to maintain its success? The Royals will be losing a lot of talent between top facilitator Ally Countie (3 goals, 6 assists), mainstays like Abbie Donahue, Katie Hermanson, Chloe Sapienza, Juliette Maloberti, Madeleine Mogavero and starting goalie Bronwyn Hadley, who finished with five shutouts while helping Georgetown finish the season on a six-game unbeaten streak.
One big plus for the Royals is that Vivian Burr, the team's top goal scorer this fall (9 goals), will return as a senior next season.
Pentucket well positioned
Last fall Pentucket enjoyed one of its deepest postseason runs in program history, making it all the way to the Division 2 North semifinals. This year's team ultimately didn't fare quite as well, finishing 5-5 overall, but Pentucket did consistently compete against the league's top teams and looks primed for another big year next fall.
Though Pentucket is set to lose eight seniors to graduation, including top scorer Liv Reagan (4 goals, 8 assists), the team will return some talent next fall. Juniors Meg Freiermuth (3 goals, 2 assists) and Charlene Basque (three shutouts) should both be among the best in the league as seniors, and Haley Dwight (6 goals, 4 assists) and Reese Gallant (3 goals) both enjoyed breakout sophomore seasons as well.
Rebuilding Triton finishes strong
Having lost a significant amount of talent to graduation, this year's Triton team was young and rebuilding, so a step back record-wise wasn't a surprise. The question for the Vikings was always going to be how much the team improved as the season went along, and from that perspective this fall was a resounding success.
After starting the year 0-5, Triton finished with points in four of its last five games and a two-game winning streak to end the year. Triton (2-6-2) righted the ship with ties against Ipswich and Hamilton-Wenham before beating Amesbury and Rockport to wrap up the year on a high note. Maddie Hillick and Paige Leavitt in particular were impressive and should give Triton a strong offensive base to work with going forward.
Amesbury not far off
In terms of wins and losses, Amesbury field hockey struggled again this fall. The Indians finished 1-8-1 with five straight losses to end the year. That's obviously not ideal, but look closer and it's clear the Indians did make progress in new coach Kerri Doherty's first season at the helm. In addition to its 1-0 win over Hamilton-Wenham, Amesbury was also competitive in close losses to league contenders like Ipswich, Lynnfield, Pentucket and North Reading. Amesbury can also look forward to another year with junior Ella Bezanson, who stepped up as the team's top offensive option with two goals and two assists on the year.
Mac Cerullo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.