The 2022 Hammond Varsity Field Hockey season is underway as they look to build off Coach Abell’s most successful season to date. Last year they defeated Wilde Lake 1-0 in the first round of the playoffs and advanced further than the coach had ever taken them; to the regional championship. As of October 4th they hold a 4-0 record in the county, placing them at the top of the standings. Headed by strong captain leadership from Goalie Lily Deblasio, Lauren Johnson, Bri Donato and Hannah Haber, Hammond looks to continue the program’s successes.
One challenge they have had to overcome so far this season was lack of players, resulting in the combination of the JV and Varsity teams. The team looks at this as positive, however. Coach Abell said the change provides underclassmen “the opportunity to learn and grow this season” with captain Lily Deblasio adding that the program was now “one big family”. The team also is learning to compensate for the loss of many of their most talented players who graduated last year. To rebound from this setback, Coach Abell said “I think the entire team needs to step up to have a successful season since we do have a majority young program. We have been improving every day and I think that is due to the fact that we have stepped up as an overall team.” While many of the players this season have little experience with the sport, having one program will hopefully provide them all with ample opportunities to advance as players.
Goalie Lily Deblasio, a four year varsity starter is one of the county’s elite goalies. This fall, she has already surpassed 110 saves, only halfway through the season. She attributes her impressive statistics to Coach Abell and her teammate’s “consistent encouragement,” helping her keep a positive mindset amid struggles. Another crucial asset to the team is Captain Hannah Haber, a powerhouse of stick skills and speed, despite having no outside field hockey experience. She may not be a leading goal scorer, but her presence on the defensive end is known by all competitors who cross her. This season, Haber’s goals are to “hopefully make it to the regional championship again” and “to leave the program in a good place.” This year’s seniors are Coach Abell’s first graduating class, making the season that much more important. Abell’s experience and skill in coaching has helped many of the athletes improve drastically, especially considering that many of the girls had never played field hockey before. Captain Lauren Johnson said “Coach Abell made me into the player I am today as all four years i’ve played, it has been with her as my coach.”
Part of what has made the team so successful is the influence and guidance provided by the captains. Lauren Johnson attributes her leadership to her love for the sport, saying “I am passionate about my team and about field hockey, and that shows through in my role as captain.” Despite picking up a stick for the first time her Freshman year, Johnson’s skill and positive attitude keeps the team organized. Additionally, DeBlasio commented on her experience as captain, saying, “I have a good understanding of the game and the way it works, like the technical aspects of it. I feel like game awareness is one of my strengths so I try to use that in games to explain to girls what is going on and how to position themselves. I think this helps them not only understand more but helps them feel more confident in their skill.” Another strong source of inspiration for the team is Hannah Haber, who says that “being loud and outspoken and willing to tell people what they should be doing” is what makes her a good captain. This combination of traits makes for great leadership for this young team, one that will hopefully be able to fill in the shoes of the eight graduating seniors.
Having an already successful record this year, the team is looking forward to improving their skill and most importantly, having fun. If you’re interested in supporting Hammond hockey, come out to their senior game against Atholton on Monday, October 17th, at 5pm and follow their Instagram @golden_bearsfh to stay up to date on games and fundraisers.