A Number of Elements Has East Hampton Field Hockey off to Strong Start - 27 East

A Number of Elements Has East Hampton Field Hockey off to Strong Start

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East Hampton junior Ally Schaefer tries to block a pass.    DREW BUDD

East Hampton junior Ally Schaefer tries to block a pass. DREW BUDD

East Hampton sophomore Kerri O'Donnell tries to save a ball from going out of bounds.   DREW BUDD

East Hampton sophomore Kerri O'Donnell tries to save a ball from going out of bounds. DREW BUDD

East Hampton sophomore Kerri O'Donnell sends in a corner.    DREW BUDD

East Hampton sophomore Kerri O'Donnell sends in a corner. DREW BUDD

East Hampton junior Sienna Link Morse and a Sayville player go after the ball.    DREW BUDD

East Hampton junior Sienna Link Morse and a Sayville player go after the ball. DREW BUDD

East Hampton freshman goalie Caeleigh Schuster makes a save.    DREW BUDD

East Hampton freshman goalie Caeleigh Schuster makes a save. DREW BUDD

East Hampton freshman goalie Caeleigh Schuster makes a save.    DREW BUDD

East Hampton freshman goalie Caeleigh Schuster makes a save. DREW BUDD

East Hampton freshman goalie Caeleigh Schuster makes a save.    DREW BUDD

East Hampton freshman goalie Caeleigh Schuster makes a save. DREW BUDD

East Hampton freshman goalie Caeleigh Schuster makes a save.    DREW BUDD

East Hampton freshman goalie Caeleigh Schuster makes a save. DREW BUDD

East Hampton junior Emma McGrory scored two goals in Friday's 3-2 victory over Sayville.    DREW BUDD

East Hampton junior Emma McGrory scored two goals in Friday's 3-2 victory over Sayville. DREW BUDD

East Hampton senior Ava Arcoleo takes possession of the ball deep in Sayville territory.    DREW BUDD

East Hampton senior Ava Arcoleo takes possession of the ball deep in Sayville territory. DREW BUDD

East Hampton senior Toby Allen, who scored the game's first goal on Friday, denies a Sayville player forward progress.    DREW BUDD

East Hampton senior Toby Allen, who scored the game's first goal on Friday, denies a Sayville player forward progress. DREW BUDD

Bonacker Ava Tintle tries to avoid a pair of Sayville players.    DREW BUDD

Bonacker Ava Tintle tries to avoid a pair of Sayville players. DREW BUDD

Drew Budd on Sep 20, 2022

Bonding, communicating, a changed mindset, working together as a unit.

They’re all things the East Hampton field hockey coaches and players have said that led to the Bonacker’s strong 4-1 start to the season. They’re also what led their 3-2 victory over Sayville at home on Friday.

With 2:29 remaining in the first quarter on Friday, senior Toby Allen scored to give East Hampton a 1-0 lead when she capitalized on a cross in the circle from junior Emma McGrory. Although the Bonacker’s had a number of additional scoring chances in the first half, they clung to that 1-0 lead at halftime against a scrappy Sayville team that surprisingly came into Friday’s contest still searching for its first victory of the season.

“My goal, the first goal of the game, definitely was right time and place,” agreed Allen, who had scored the game-tying goal in the Bonacker’s first loss of the season, 2-1, at East Islip on September 14. “However, with right time and place also comes trust. As a team, we all have to trust each other and trust that everyone will play their part. My teammates needed to trust me to be at post to knock the ball in the cage and I also needed to trust myself that I would be able to score — that is exactly what happened.”

Needing to pad their lead a bit, the Bonackers were able to do so thanks to McGrory, who potted a pair of goals within 10 minutes of each other in the third quarter. With a 3-0 lead, East Hampton seemed to take its foot off the gas a bit and the Golden Flashes took advantage of that. They got themselves on the board with 13:11 remaining in the game. Then, less than four minutes later, scored again putting a little bit of a scare into the Bonackers and forcing head coach Samantha James to call a timeout.

“I just made sure that the girls refocused themselves and understood that this team is intense,” James said of her timeout. “They’re gritty. They go after every ball. They’ve played some good teams already like Bayport-Blue Point and some other solid teams that we see in the future.”

The players admitted the quick comeback by Sayville jolted them a little.

“After scoring our third goal, I think our whole team got excited and expected the score to be 3-0 the rest of the game,” Allen said. “However, that did not happen … because field hockey is a slow-scoring game, we were all very shocked and the intensity of the game was next level.

“I think that once we gained a lead, we expected the rest of the game to go our way,” McGrory added. “We got back into the game and held onto the lead by playing how we played.”

To East Hampton’s credit, it made it difficult for Sayville to get anything beyond much of midfield the rest of the game, allowing it to hold on to the 3-2 victory. Freshman goalie Caeleigh Schuster, who has already had a number of big games this season, was stout once again, making 18 saves and helping the defense clear a number of other potential scoring chances.

“It feels really good to win and improve our record, especially after such a quick comeback from Sayville,” McGrory said. “We must take each game as if it’s our last and play one game at a time if we want to continue this upward trend.”

Allen echoed McGrory’s words and said a mindset change led by their coaching staff has certainly helped.

“I think our season so far has been much more successful than last season because everyone on the team gets along very nicely which is key to having a strong team,” Allen said. “Additionally, our coaches have been telling us to focus on one game at a time and always play like it’s your last game. Having that mindset gave us a good start to the season and, hopefully, it will carry on for the remainder of our season.

“Having coach James and coach [Nicole] Ficeto back helps us as a team, having a familiar feeling with coaching,” McGrory added. “We’ve had some new varsity players join, who all have new skills and elements that they add to the game. We’ve all been practicing together since last season ended, and we’ve grown very close as a team. The bond our team has outside of hockey definitely helps us play together on the field.”

And, of course, James, who was an assistant on last year’s team, appreciates the work that her players have put in.

“I’m very proud of the way they’re working together,” she said. “They’re communicating really well, on and off the field, and I just like that we’re bonding really well and we’re able to transfer that on and off the field, which is amazing. It’s what I want.”

James said that strategy-wise, she’s helped implement some new corner plays. But other than that, it’s just been improving her players’ overall game.

“I taught them new corners, really teaching them to spread the field,” she said. “We’re really trying to heighten their field hockey I.Q. I think they have the skills, they just need to know what to do with the skills. So that’s really what we’re trying to focus on, higher level of play.”

East Hampton played at Shoreham-Wading River on Wednesday and is scheduled to play back-to-back games against local rivalries Pierson this Friday at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor and then a week later at Southampton on September 30. Both games are scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.

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