Valley Field Hockey Primed for Success This Fall
Senior captain drop center forward Abby Amara and the Valley Regional field hockey team have a senior-laden squad ready to compete in 2021. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)
Senior captain left midfielder Grace Haskins brings tremendous skills and an even better positive attitude to the Warriors’ field hockey squad. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)
Senior left wing Mia Alio and the Warriors have their sights set on a deep postseason run this year. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)
The Valley Regional field hockey team is poised for a successful season in 2021. After having only one senior on the squad in 2020, the Warriors are a veteran heavy team with tons of talent. Head Coach Beth McCabe Powers has high hopes for what her team can accomplish this year.
Coach McCabe Powers knew that 2020 was already a going to be difficult with the COVID-19 pandemic trending into its second wave and the start of the year being delayed until October. When there was only one returning senior suiting up but a slew of junior contributors, Coach McCabe Powers had her sights set on this season as being a breakout year for the Warriors.
“I have 12 senors, so it’s a big year. Some of them won’t start, of course, but we’re looking forward to a very positive year. We’re all working hard in that direction,” said McCabe Powers. “They seem to be jelling really nicely and everyone is working in the right direction. I feel we should have a positive outcome this year as any team with this much of a veteran presence should.”
Valley will be led by a cadre of senior captains in Abby Amara, Reagan Fergueson, Grace Haskins, Margaret Jacaruso, and Brooke Lavigne. Each brings their own strengths and leadership qualities to the club, and Coach McCabe Powers believes that they have already had an impact on the demeanor of the squad as a whole. Amara and Jacaruso will be leading from the offensive end of the field.
“Margaret Jacaruso plays right wing attacker. She’s super steady and reliable. She’s a very speedy right wing. She is like the empath of the team. The younger kids love her because she’s super approachable and nice. She’s more the warm and fuzzy captain,” said McCabe Powers. “Abby Amara plays drop-center forward. She is the definitely the most talented ball handler we have. She hasn’t lost a step or her fantastic shot, so she still has all that going for her. She runs the middle of the field in tandem with Brooke Lavigne, who plays center attacking defense. Abby is the example-setter. She leads by example, and she’s a super hard worker. She doesn’t take a play off and doesn’t fool around. She’s very diligent.”
Between Lavigne and Amara up the middle, Coach McCabe Powers expects that the Warriors will have a wealth of experience to help keep the ball out of the backfield and moving toward their opponents’ goal.
“Brooke has really upped her level of play over the last two years. She was really solid last year, but she’s really worked hard in the offseason, and she’s really holding down the middle of the back field,” McCabe Powers said. “She’s working tremendously well with her passing up to Abby and transferring the ball from defense to offense. She’s also really stepped nicely into her leadership role.”
Haskins and Fergueson will be tasked mostly with handling the outside of the field. Haskins will be on the left side in the midfield, while Fergueson can slot almost anywhere on the field.
“Grace Haskins is lining up to play left midfield like she did last year. She’s high energy and super positive all the time. Beyond being a good field hockey player, she brings those great attributes as a human being to the table, as well,” McCabe Powers said. “Reagan Furgueson is the organizer. She’s a utility player that can play on any line in any outside position. Her super power is organization though. She’s a solid player who will get solid varsity time, but I don’t have her on a set position. Like in basketball, she’d be a sixth man. She’s the first off the bench. She’s really worked her tail off in the offseason.”
Returning in goal for Valley will be junior keeper Fallyn Belisle, who was given a trial by fire in goal as a sophomore. Coach McCabe Powers knew that Belisle had the tools to be a good goalie, but Belisle’s intensity and commitment so far this year has been impressive.
“Fallyn has worked super hard in the offseason. She’s gained a ton of confidence. The jump from sophomore to junior year is so huge. She’s stepped out from being a kid to a big kid,” McCabe Powers said. “She’s taking command of the defensive circle. She’ll be fabulous back there for us. She’s just got so much more confidence with an entire year of varsity under her belt.”
Defense appears to be one of Valley’s strong suits this year with Belisle at goal and a strong sweeper in the backfield in Caroline Haskins. The Warriors also have some solid players on the outside defense, as well.
“Caroline Haskins is in the sweeper position, and she’s looked phenomenal in the preseason. Our defense looks really good. We have Emily Kateley at right defense, and she looks really good to. She’s excelling on her set piece work,” McCabe Powers said. “Mimi Siegle is a sophomore, and she’s starting on left defense. She’s making great progress from her freshman year. She doesn’t get in on a lot of the set pieces, but that’s the result of having so many seniors on the team.”
A few other players that are already making waves for the Warriors in the preseason scrimmages have been junior Lily Grow, sophomore Clara Shea, senior Mia Alio, and freshman Lilly Lavigne.
“Lily Grow is starting at right midfield. You probably know her from basketball. She’s so fast. She’s looking really good there. Left wing is going to be a split position between Clara Shea and Mia Alio,” said McCabe Powers. “We also have the floater position, which is our most upfield attacking position. Right now, our starter there is Lilly Lavigne, Brooke’s little sister. She’s fast and very skilled for a freshman. That happens when your mom coaches for Conn College for so many year though.”
With such a strong core of players, Coach McCabe Powers and Assistant Coach Randy Netsch have set the teams sets high this year. While the team’s goal is always to play well and take their shot at the Shoreline Conference Tournament, Coach McCabe Powers believes that Valley should be able to make some noise come postseason play.
“We set a goal to make the Shoreline Tournament. We should probably get to the final unless something drastic happens like injuries or COVID running rampant again. Our goal is always to make the tournament and have a successful run in that tournament,” said Coach McCabe Powers. “We would also like to make a deeper run in states. Off and on, we’ve made the quarterfinals, and I like to set that for the stretch goal to make the semis.”
Of course, every team has its challenges at the outset of the season, and Valley is no different. Coach McCabe Powers knows there will be bumps in the road, but as long as her athletes stay committed, there’s no cap on what the Warriors can do.
“Keeping healthy and avoiding COVID are our biggest concerns this year. Some of these kids have been really affected by COVID. You have to keep the motivation up. You also have a lot of people who would be starting on any other team in the league who have all these veterans in front of them. You have to keep them motivated. The world is just sort of a mess right now, so being happy really matters. Fun matters,” McCabe Powers said. “I tell the girls all the time that success is there to grab. If they stay focused and work hard, the sky is the limit. It’s never been truer than this year.”
2021 Valley Regional Field Hockey Schedule
Home games at Valley Regional High School
Thursday, Sept. 9: vs. North Branford at 3:45 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 11: vs. Waterford at 11 a.m.
Monday, Sept. 13: vs. Haddam-Killingworth at 3:45 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 18: vs. East Lyme at 10 a.m.
Monday, Sept. 20: at Westbrook at 3:45 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 22: at Morgan at :30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 25: vs. Somers at 11 a.m.
Monday, Sept. 27: vs. Old Saybrook at 3:45 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 30: at North Branford at 3:45 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 2: at Killingly at 3 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 4: at Haddam-Killingworth at 3:45 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 7: vs. Westbrook at 3:45 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 9: at Woodstock Academy at 11 a.m.
Monday, Oct. 11: vs. Morgan at 3:45 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 14: at Old Saybrook at 3:45 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 21: at Somers at 4:15 p.m.