Wakefield concludes historic season with valiant 5-3 effort

SENIOR CO-CAPTAIN Olivia Cameron (8) finds fellow co-captain Vanessa Kaddaras (11) for the Warriors’ third goal of the game. Cameron (Stonehill) and Kaddaras (Merrimack) will be competing against each other next year in the Northeast-10 Conference after a great career together at Wakefield High. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the November 3, 2017 edition.


GLOUCESTER — As the WMHS field hockey team heard their names called out over the speaker system at Newell Stadium in Gloucester, you wondered what their mindset was. Were they aware that by standing on this field they had already made history by becoming the first Wakefield High field hockey team to make the tournament since 2007? Were they just happy to be here? Were they intimidated by playing on the home turf of an undefeated Fishermen team (13-0-3)? It turns out the answers to those questions are in order: Yes, no and definitely not.

The Warriors played Gloucester tough for the entire game, and gave the Fishermen all they could handle before ultimately falling 5-3.

The two teams played to a stalemate for nearly 20 minutes to start the game, as senior co-captains Julianne D’Ambrosio and Bernadette Mylan helped the defense and junior goalie Alexa Pesce hold off Gloucester until the Fishermen got a goal on a corner from Cate Delaney to make it 1-0 with 11:30 left in the first half.

“Defensively we had a really strong game led by Birdi Mylan and Julianne D’Ambrosio,” said Wakefield head coach Cara Luca. “They were able to keep the ball out of the circle with the help of Jane Yardumian, Agi Lever and Rachel King.” 

After such a great defensive effort with the ball in the Wakefield zone for most of the first half, the response from the Warriors after this initial goal would be critical.

Wakefield countered in just under a minute and a half, as senior co-captain Olivia Cameron made her first of many great runs up the field, powering past the Gloucester defenders. Senior co-captain Vanessa Kaddaras got to the ball and would pick up an assist as sophomore Annabella Forziati hammered it into the back of the net for a decisive, momentum-changing goal and a 1-1 tie.

After the quick and efficient strike clearly shocked the Fishermen, the two teams went back to a power struggle with chances on both sides before Gloucester’s pressure resulted in a chaotic goal from Mia Salah with 4:42 left in the half. The initial hit was high and saved by Pesce, but the Fishermen kept batting away until the ball crossed the line. A ball that is lifted in the air isn’t always blown dead, but it is often called a foul and considered to be played in a dangerous way when it reaches that height. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the half ended facing a 2-1 deficit.

In the second half, the Fishermen gained control as they scored three straight goals. After Delaney’s second goal of the game made it 5-1, coach Luca called a timeout with 16:43 remaining, mostly to ask more out of her forwards.

“I told the offense to step it up and they did,” said Luca.

The Warrior attack responded about five minutes later when Cameron burned past the defense right up the middle and found Kaddaras who buried it and cut the lead to 5-2.

The Warriors battled all the way to the end when the two senior forwards would connect for one more great goal; the final memory of many great moments throughout their careers. Cameron juked past multiple defenders again and flew down the right sideline before sending it over to Kaddaras in front of the net who finished the play with a goal to make it 5-3.

It was a bittersweet moment for Cameron and Kaddaras. Their Wakefield careers are over, but what a run it was.

“It was such a great season and three years with coach Luca,” said Cameron. “Every single girl is like a sister to me. Especially Vanessa.”

“We definitely made each other better throughout the season,” added Kaddaras. “That’s how we’ve become so close.”

Kaddaras (Merrimack) and Cameron (Stonehill) will continue their field hockey careers at the next level and actually play against each other in the Northeast-10 Conference.

“It’s definitely going to be weird,” said Cameron of playing against her friend and teammate. “But we’ve pushed each other to this point and this is what we wanted for each other.”

“Vanessa and Olivia are the dynamic duo,” added Luca. “They are going to be very hard to replace but I can’t wait to see them play against each other.”

In the end, the Warriors came up short, but they have much to be proud of. For one, they were the only team all season to score three goals against Gloucester. But more importantly, they stuck together late in the season when they needed wins to stay alive in the playoff hunt and they made it back to the tournament.

“I had the utmost confidence coming into the season with these two (Cameron, Kaddaras) leading the offense and Birdi Mylan and Julianne D’Ambrosio leading the defense that we would make it to the tournament,” said Luca.

Ultimately, this Warrior team will be remembered as one of Wakefield’s best.

“Beginning of the season it was a young team but everyone stepped it up,” said Kaddaras. “We all learned together we all played together and at the end we made it here. The ten-year curse is over.”