Dedicated offseason work has Warriors excited about 2017

CO-CAPTAIN Olivia Cameron (pictured) will team with fellow senior co-captain Vanessa Kaddaras to lead the WMHS field hockey attack this season. (Donna Larsson File Photo)

CO-CAPTAIN Olivia Cameron (pictured) will team with fellow senior co-captain Vanessa Kaddaras to lead the WMHS field hockey attack this season. (Donna Larsson File Photo)

Published in the September 8, 2017 edition.


WAKEFIELD — With the 2017 fall sports season set to kick off this week, the varsity field hockey team at Wakefield Memorial High School has been working since last season ended to improve and get ready for the next season.

Head Coach Cara Luca returns for another season in charge of the Warriors, she spoke recently about her team and the upcoming season. She remarked on the hard work the girls have put in after a tough season last year saying, “This year the team did a lot to get prepared for this upcoming season. Girls participated in a winter indoor league where they were coined indoor champions.”

An impressive winter led to a hard working summer Luca continued, “This summer the girls first took part in a clinic (4 Goals) that was hosted by the University of Michigan Coach Marcia Pankratz. Some girls also went to Endicott College camps or Nike camps.”

Some of the girls kept things local and worked out here in town.

“A big part of their training was with coach JD Berry at BearFit Training in Wakefield,” said Luca.  “He did a fantastic job getting the girls ready for the season. I wanted my girls stronger and I knew he could do that. What a difference from seeing them at the end of the season to the beginning of this season. The girls hits are a lot stronger and they have better ball control.”

Physical preparedness is key, but Coach Luca knows that her team needs to be focused from the first whistle if they’re going to have a successful season.

“As always I have high expectations for the girls,” the coach said. “We have a lot of talent and our goal this year is ‘click’ as a team right away so we can pave the way for the tournament.”

“Our slogan this year is ‘make it count’. Everything we do in practice prepares us for game days. We have to make sure each drill, each strategy, each skill is done right.”

If you’re familiar with the field hockey program for the past few years, you may need to pick up a program this year as there will be some new faces on the field. Coach Luca talked about the makeup of this year’s roster saying, “The varsity squad consists of 17 girls. It is led by captains Vanessa Kaddaras, Olivia Cameron, Julianne D’Ambrosio and Birdi Mylan.”

“We have eight returning varsity players so our team is a young team,” Luca said.

There may be some places that starters are set, but in net they’re looking at a competition battle with a couple of young goalies. “We have two goalies on the varsity squad,” Luca noted, “Norah Coyne and Alexa Pesce.”

New to field hockey is Alexa Pesce. The junior has some goalie experience when she played soccer.

“She has been a great asset to this program,” said Luca. “She is a determined individual who isn’t afraid of going after the ball.”

“Nora is in her second year of field hockey (she took off her sophomore year). Like Alexa, Nora isn’t afraid of the ball and likes to dive for the ball. We are really excited to have both these goalies on our team.”

Of the players in the field, Luca said, “Vanessa Kaddaras and Olivia Cameron will be leading the offense while Julianne D’Ambrosio and Birdi Mylan will be leading the defense.”

“Returning varsity player Hope Melanson (sophomore), will be on the offensive line with Vanessa and Olivia.”

“Our midfield line will be returning varsity player Ava Vaughn (junior). Joining her will be sophomores Annabella Forziati and Erin Heffernan, along with juniors Fiona Heffernan and Shannon Foley.”

“On the defensive end we have returning varsity players Jane Yardumian and Alyssa Vacca. Joining them are juniors Laura Keegan, Agi Lever and Rachel King.”

With low turnout from the freshman class, there is no freshman program for field hockey this year, Coach Luca said, “Freshman numbers were low so our current freshmen are on JV.”

She added, “I am currently working on getting a youth program going. I held a youth clinic this summer and we got a decent turnout. We are hoping to bring back the freshman program next year.”

Laura McNeil and Stephanie Dembro will coach JV again in 2017. Maria Kenney will continue as assistant varsity coach.

Coach Luca has a positive outlook for the 2017 season.

“I am looking forward to having a successful field hockey season,” she said. “Yes, ultimately I would love to make the tournament but more importantly I want to see these girls grow. We have so much talent on this team. I know what each of these girls brings to the field and I am hopeful that it will all come together.”

Their next game is scheduled for Monday, 3:45 p.m. at Reading.