Valley Field Hockey Hoping for Strong Year with Slight Adjustments
Senior defender Taylor Harpin hopes to be supporting a staunch, new-look Valley Regional field hockey defense this coming season. Harpin played some solid varsity minutes for the Warriors in 2019. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Leah Bargnesi can play a variety of positions on the field hockey pitch because of her blazing speed and exceptional instincts. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Margaret Jacaruso will be using her offensive tool set to help a potent Warriors offense this season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
In 2019, the Valley Regional field hockey team earned a trip to the Class S State Tournament and finished up the season with a record of 10-8. The Warriors also made the Shoreline Conference Tournament last year, and this year, Head Coach Beth McCabe-Powers hopes that her squad can accomplish that and then some.
Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on across the country, there are many challenges for coaches and players in getting a season off the ground. As of now, the Warriors are preparing by themselves on their own time through self-directed workouts. Coach McCabe-Powers has been keeping in touch with her players and this year’s potential leaders to help facilitate those workouts.
“They have been working hard all summer in small groups that are COVID appropriate. We’re trying to stay connected and be helpful. Everyone got a do-it-yourself summer work out,” said McCabe-Powers. “Right now, we have eight potential captains, and they are the mini-group leaders. We want them to field questions and demonstrate skills through zoom conference calls. We’re trying to keep them together that way.”
One of the Warriors’ biggest concerns will be how to adjust to the graduation of the majority their defenders. Luckily, Coach McCabe-Powers has players ready to step up and take on more defensive responsibility.
“We graduated a large portion of our starting defense. It’s going to be a bit of a transition year. Our defense has been in place the last two seasons, and that’s my biggest hurdle to get an appropriately placed defense with everyone working together,” said McCabe-Powers. “We’re more than capable of it, I just have to be talented enough to get them all in the right places. That’s no small feat coming off an eight month layoffs.”
There will be some continuity with players like Taylor Harpin and Brooke Lavigne returning and taking on expanded responsibilities.
“I still have Taylor Harpin, and she has continued to improve her skills. She has a monster hit, which is never a bad thing. She’s also improved her smaller touch skills. She comes to the table as a well-rounded player,” McCabe-Powers said. “I anticipate Brooke Lavigne will move into a starting role on the defense, but tryouts will still determine that. Brooke brings calm to the defense. She has great field vision and sees the field almost better than anyone on the team. She also has confidence and a great demeanor.”
Valley also has returning junior goalie Margaret Gessner to shore up the defensive end of the field. Coach McCabe-Powers will look for Gessner to take an even more vocal role this coming season.
“I expect Margaret to bring steady, capable goaltending,” said McCabe-Powers. “She’s got a cool head and is calm, which is good. She should also feel more comfortable talking more with another year of experience there.”
Coach McCabe-Powers expects a fair number of experienced players to be roaming the midfield for the Warriors, including Leah Bargnesi, Grace Haskins, Emily Kateley, and Lauren Wiegman.
“In the midfield, Emily Kateley, Grace Haskins, and Lauren Wiegman will return. Emily’s developed a lot of confidence. She’s a tremendous passer and a fantastic cutter. Lauren and Grace will also be consistent starters this year. Leah’s blazing fast and super reliable, no matter where I put her,” McCabe-Powers said. “All of them are smart players and excellent passers. They’ve shown great leadership on the field. They’re a steady group. They aren’t super flashy, but they are great at transitioning the ball up field. They know how to do their job.”
On the attack, McCabe-Powers anticipates depending on Margaret Jacaruso, Abby Amara, Paige Thomas, and Mia Alio. That quartet has plenty of talent, but for the Warriors to be successful, they have to play cohesively.
“Abby Amara, Madison Alio, and Margaret Jacaruso will be on the attack for starters this coming season. I’m sure that Paige Thomas will get some playing time there as well. Abby continues to develop her skills, especially her eliminations. She’s been working hard on her shooting this summer, and I’m hoping she’s a little less selfless and takes more shots,” McCabe Powers said. “Margaret’s super-fast, and she started right wing last year. She has a great cross, and she’s been working hard to be a great leader all summer. Even though she started last year, I anticipate her to shine even more. Mia brings outstanding speed and tenacity in front of the goal. I know she’s been working really hard.”
Other players that Coach McCabe Powers believes will factor in this year are Reagan Fergueson and Lana Bargnesi. Coach McCabe-Powers may not know precisely where each athlete will play as of yet, but she knows they will both be tremendous assets.
“Lana Bargnesi is in the running for captain too. She’s received her prosthetic leg for running so that she can now participate as a senior. She’s been our scorekeeper the last two years, and she’s watched a lot of field hockey with a discerning eye. I’m so excited to have her play this season,” said McCabe-Powers. “Reagan Ferguson has been working super hard coming off knee surgery. Her skills have really improved. She traveled with club this winter, and she’s really coming along.”
Through all the challenges, McCabe-Powers is just eager to see the team start to come together. The estimated number of players is 41 so far, with lots of freshmen ready to learn the ropes. As for the Warriors’ possibilities in 2020, Coach McCabe-Powers is optimistic.
“I anticipate a fairly good season for us. I’m always slow to pull the trigger in saying anything more than that because I don’t want to be on someone else’s board, but I will say we are going to be alright,” said McCabe Powers. “I think we’ll make Shorelines, and I’d like to make a deep run at states, but that’s hypothetical at this point. Coming off the layoff can change everything. We won’t really know until everyone gets there.”