Friday, May 07, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

McHenry’s a Catalyst for Branford’s Offense


Junior Julia McHenry is a pivotal part of the Branford field hockey team’s offensive attack. Julia also plays lacrosse for the Hornets. Photo courtesy of Julia McHenry

Junior Julia McHenry is a pivotal part of the Branford field hockey team’s offensive attack. Julia also plays lacrosse for the Hornets. (Photo courtesy of Julia McHenry )

When it came to offensive success, the Branford field hockey team relied a lot on junior midfielder Julia McHenry this season. If the Hornets were playing well, it usually meant that Julia was having a strong game.

A midfielder, Julia entered her junior year with the most varsity experience of any starter on the Hornets’ field hockey squad and finished the season by helping Branford defeat Mercy in the first round of the SCC Division A Tournament. With the game scoreless late in the first half, Julia gained possession and sent a pass to senior Andrea Amarante, who scored the first goal of the contest. Branford added another goal in the second half on its way to a 2-0 victory.

Julia knew that scoring that opening goal was huge in terms of spurring the Hornets’ offense.

“That was a good moment. It was a very competitive game. Mercy is a very competitive team. They weren’t just going to let us go out and take it from them,” Julia says. “After we got the first goal, it gave us our momentum, and we realized we can win this. We just had to keep going and not just play to their level.”

Head Coach Pete Frye was impressed with the technical skill of Julia’s pinpoint pass to Amarante. As the former field hockey coach at Walsh Intermediate School, Frye has been coaching Julia for the past five years. Throughout that time, Frye has seen Julia has continually progress as a focal point of Branford’s offense.

“Julia is our most experienced player, and she’s a junior. She is a quiet leader in our team. When she plays well, it really bodes well for our team,” says Frye. “Julia is solid as a rock, and you know what you’re going to get from her each game. When she has those games where she is exceptional, we really shine as a team. We get her for one more year, which is fantastic. Can’t wait for next year.”

Julia started working with Coach Frye during her first season of field hockey. With plenty of experience in lacrosse, Julia decided to try out field hockey in the 6th grade. Julia’s sister Autumn had played field hockey and taught her the fundamentals.

At first, Julia didn’t enjoy field hockey and decided to sit out her 7th-grade season. The following year, Julia gave field hockey one more chance.

“Eighth grade is when I really started actually picking up the sport. I started enjoying it and having fun out there,” says Julia. “It was just a fun, competitive sport to play. It has grown on me through the years.”

Julia joined the Hornets in her freshman year and began seeing major minutes, ultimately becoming a varsity starter. Julia was honored to get so much playing time early in her high school career, proving that underclass athletes can earn varsity spots.

By her sophomore season, Julia was fully acclimated and had a great understanding of exactly how to play Branford’s brand of field hockey.

“It was much easier. I had seen all the ropes before, so I knew how our team ran and played on the field,” Julia says. “Playing with everyone my sophomore year was easier, because I had already played with them my freshman year. I already had a game sense on how we worked on the field.”

Julia is also a member of the Branford girls’ lacrosse squad. She believes that playing both sports helps her handle the various obstacles in each of them.

Julia’s goal for her senior year is to earn All-SCC honors. She also wants to help her fellow Hornets improve, just like her teammates helped her as she rose through the ranks. Julia feels grateful that her field hockey experience is rooted in Branford.

“It’s an honor, especially coming from this Branford field hockey program. I’m proud to come from it,” says Julia. “It’s a very respectable program. I love the way we represent ourselves on and off the field.”



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