McDonald Makes Key Contributions on Defense
Junior Olivia McDonald played a key role in a successful season for the Guilford field hockey team after moving from midfield to defense. (Photo courtesy of Olivia McDonald )
Olivia McDonald demonstrated why she’s the consummate team player while helping the Guilford field hockey squad claim the latest in its long line of playoff titles this fall.
Olivia recently completed her junior season playing the defender position for Guilford. Olivia was originally a midfielder, but Head Coach Kitty Palmer asked her to move back to defense, because she felt that her team needed to shore up that end of the field. Olivia took the challenge in stride and helped Guilford finish with a record of 12-1-0-1, while winning the Southern Connecticut Conference Division A championship.
“Last year, I played center midfield for the junior varsity team and was planning on playing midfield this season. But the varsity team needed spots for defense, so I went after a defensive position,” Olivia says. “At first, I’ll admit it was difficult. I was not getting in the right mindset. However, Kitty saw my potential, and I earned a spot starting at center defense. Kitty has helped me grow as a person, as well as a field hockey player.”
Coach Palmer praises Olivia for her willingness to step into a new role. As the season progressed, Palmer saw Olivia continually play better as a member of Guilford’s defensive unit.
“Olivia unselfishly moved back to defense from midfield. She started almost every game this season, and you could see her confidence increase every game,” says Palmer. “Olivia was very vocal during games and became a leader amongst the defense. She was very dependable and always gave 100 percent to her tackles. You had to make a good play to get by her. Olivia is a great teammate who will do whatever it takes to win. I applaud all her efforts this past fall.”
Olivia started playing field hockey in the 7th grade and attended several camps as a youngster. Olivia also enjoyed playing soccer, but eventually decided to invest her time in becoming the best field hockey player that she could be. At Guilford, Olivia gets to compete alongside her sister Julia McDonald, a junior goalkeeper.
“My favorite aspect of the sport is that I get to play in front of my twin sister, Julia, who is in goal,” Olivia says. “Field hockey is both fun and challenging. I get to see my lifelong friends and, at the same time, I get to push myself physically and mentally.”
Olivia and her Guilford teammates captured a third-straight SCC title when the club won the Division A Tournament this fall. Guilford achieved that feat by earning a 5-1 win versus Cheshire in the championship game on Nov. 11.
“My favorite moment from the season would have to be when we won our SCC championship against Cheshire. One of our earlier games this season, we lost 3-1 to them, which was defeating. However, we used that experience to push ourselves even further,” says Olivia. “With COVID, the season was very unpredictable and unprecedented. However, we rose to the occasion by defeating Cheshire on their own turf.”
While she knows that there is still room for improvement, Olivia came a long way with her defensive skills throughout the recent season. Olivia was always striving to communicate effectively with her fellow defenders.
“Toward the end of the season, I became stronger, but I know that I can improve on my confidence,” Olivia says. “Defense is a team unit and, especially in the center, strength needs to be present.”
Olivia is also a member of the girls’ lacrosse squad at Guilford High School. Olivia started playing lacrosse in 3rd grade and has competed for the Nor’easter Lacrosse club team since she was in 6th grade. Olivia has aspirations of playing lacrosse in college.
In addition to sports, Olivia is an excellent student and a dedicated member of her community. Olivia is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program at Guilford High School, where she is also a high honors student and a member of the Feminist Alliance and TEAM (Teens Educate Advocate Motivate).
On the heels of a memorable junior season, Olivia has huge hopes about what the Guilford field hockey team can accomplish next fall. Olivia wants to help Guilford claim a state title in her senior campaign.
“I want to win not just the SCC championship, but also the state championship,” says Olivia. “This season, we did not get the opportunity to even have a state championship, so I want to make up for this year and prove what we are capable of.”