Sports Person of the Week
Petonito Steps Up to Help Guilford in the Midfield
Junior Allie Petonito made a late-season move to the midfield position for the Guilford field hockey team and helped the club claim the latest in its long line of playoff titles. (Photo courtesy of Allie Petonito )
Allie Petonito had to step up in a big way for the Guilford field hockey squad by playing a new position when one of her teammates was sidelined during the 2020 season. Allie answered the call and then some, while helping Guilford put together another historic campaign.
Allie, a junior, transitioned from forward to the midfield late in the season and thrived in that role for Guilford, ultimately finishing the year with 14 goals and six assists. Allie wound up earning a spot on the All-SCC Division A Team and also helped Guilford win the SCC Division A Tournament with a 5-1 victory versus Cheshire in the final.
“At first, it was a little more running than being a forward, and it took me a game or two to get used to it. It was also much more defensive play, rather than offensive, which I wasn’t used to,” Allie says of playing midfielder. “But I knew that my coach needed me in that spot, so I listened to her feedback, and it started to come naturally.”
Head Coach Kitty Palmer praises Allie for her willingness to step into a different position at a crucial point in the season. Palmer says that Allie played an outstanding game when Guilford defeated Cheshire to win its divisional title.
“Allie had her best game of the year against Cheshire, where she dribbled and dodged her way down the field countless times to give us great scoring chances,” says Palmer. “Allie’s our ball inserter on offensive corners and our flyer on defensive corners, where her speed and fearlessness are really needed. There isn’t much that Allie doesn’t do for the team. Allie has a quiet demeanor, but her competitive spirit is unleashed during games.”
One of Allie’s favorite aspects of field hockey is the cohesiveness that every team needs to succeed. Allie has played for several teams that have excellent chemistry during her tenure at Guilford.
“Field hockey highlights the importance of giving full effort at all times. Everyone on the team depends on each other, especially with the challenges this year brought,” Allie says. “As long as everyone did their part on the team and supported one another, we almost always found success.”
One of those successes came when Guilford squared off against crosstown rival Daniel Hand in a rematch of last year’s Class M state final—a game that Guilford won by a 3-2 score. This time around, Guilford notched a 3-1 victory versus the Tigers in what Allie called her favorite game of the year.
“My favorite moment of the season was scoring the first of the game against Daniel Hand. The game was played at Hand’s home field, and the whole team was determined to beat our rivals,” says Allie. “Following our season last year, the expectations for this year were set high, and it felt like a huge accomplishment to be able to take the lead in that game.”
Aside from field hockey, Allie also plays for the Guilford girls’ basketball and softball teams. Allie has been playing softball since she was seven and is hoping to compete next spring after the 2020 season as canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have played on travel teams since I was seven,” Allie says. “I played on the high school team as a freshman, however, due to COVID, my sophomore season was canceled. I am hoping this year that we will be able to play.”
The Guilford field hockey team is graduating several key seniors from this year’s championship squad. However, Allie will be back on the field in 2021 and feels confident that Guilford has more success in store.
“My expectations for next season are that we will continue to improve and bond as a team,” says Allie. “Although we are losing some of our starters, the younger players on the team are constantly showing their dedication and hard work. I am expecting another successful season next year.”