Franklin Field Hockey Hopes to Ride the Wave into the 2019 Season

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
A close-knit family-type atmosphere is what Franklin Field Hockey Coach Michelle Hess believes will contribute to her team’s success.
Issue Date: 
October, 2019
Article Body: 

The Franklin field hockey team finished second in the Kelley-Rex Division of the Hockomock League to neighboring rival King Philip last fall and was one win away from meeting up with the Warriors for the Division 1 South Sectional Championship. Unfortunately, KP fell to Somerset-Berkley 3-1 in the Semi Finals, while the Panthers were taking number one seed Walpole to double overtime before the Rebels finally prevailed 4-3.
Franklin lost eight seniors (six field players and two goalies), including four-year varsity starter Cassi Ronan from the 10-5-2 team. Ronan, the team’s center midfielder, had compiled 82 career points (51 goals and 31 assists) for the Panthers and as an individual who controlled the field, she will be missed and leaves a rather large hole to fill.
Returning for her second stint as the Franklin Head Coach, Michelle Hess will be once again guiding the Panthers this fall in her second year back on the sidelines. Hess is looking for the girls to continue what they started last year.
“We are looking to pick up right where we left off last year, putting the puzzle pieces together where they fit,” the Panther Coach said. “To be successful, we need to get all the pieces together in the right areas, and then the magic will start to happen. Last year we were ‘Riding the Wave’ and we want to keep it going.”
Riding the wave into the 2019 season, the Franklin girls have been working extremely hard and want to push the Warriors out of that top spot within the league and claim it as their own. Last fall, the Panthers shocked a lot of teams because of their slow start, and Hess was trying to reestablish herself to the girls as the Head Coach. However, once Franklin figured things out, they began to pick up steam and started turning heads in the second half of the season and were able to make a deep run into the tournament.
Hess will be looking for tri-captains Elizabeth Clark (right fullback), Maeve Ledwith (center fullback) and Olivia Rondeau (right wing) to bring their leadership skills to the team, so that the team can once again get on that wave and ride it deep into the tournament. Hess, who is a big proponent of the family atmosphere, is looking for her captains to get the rest of the team to buy into her program and help create that family environment. Being a close knit family both on and off the field, the Franklin Coach believes was a main contribution to the team’s success last season. This past summer 33 of the Franklin field hockey players attended the Brown University Field Hockey Camp, showing not only their unity, but their seriousness in getting better as a team.
Despite the fact that the Panthers have lost a prolific goal scorer in Ronan, the team has a young talent on the rise up looking to step into those big shoes. Freshman center midfielder Kaitlyn Carney will be looked at as a major contributor this fall. The first-year varsity athlete has already scored three times in Franklin’s opening two wins.
“As a Franklin Rec Coach, I had coached Kaitlyn, and I knew that she had a good shot to make the team this year,” Hess said. “Having said that, I just didn’t know where she would fit in with the rest of the team, but it looks as though she has found her position.”
Other offensive threats that will help guide the Panthers into the Division 1 South Tournament once again will be junior Amanda Lewandowski, a right forward who posted 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) last fall.
“I am hoping that she can increase her scoring numbers this year,” the coach said. “She got really hot in the second half of the season, especially in our four tournament games where she had five goals and an assist.”
Aiding Carney and Lewandowski on the offensive front will also be junior left wing Stephanie Bell and Rondeau. Bell had 7 points (5 goals, 2 assists) last fall, while Rondeau netted 2 goals. Hess will be relying on them to pick up those numbers if Franklin is to make another late season run. Neither girl started last fall, and now that they are the Coach believes that they definitely should be producing more.
On the defensive side of the field, Ledwith will be the leader in charge, while junior goalie Neilee Hess will be responsible of keeping the balls out of the Franklin net. Hess saw all of her action on the junior varsity level last fall with Franklin having two senior net minders on the varsity squad.
“She’ll be stepping into a big role as the team’s starting goalie,” Hess said. “At 5’8” she’ll not only cover a lot of the net, but is the quarterback of the defense keeping the team organized back there.”
Hess has done a remarkable job in Franklin’s first two games posting back-to-back shutouts of Milford (13-0) and King Philip (3-0) to begin the season. If she can continue to keep the opposition at bay while the offense does their jobs at the opposite end of the field Franklin should be able to continue to ‘Ride the Wave’ right into the post-season.
“Once we get the team dynamics down the girls, and I expect to keep it going all year long right into the tournament, we are hoping to go further than last year,” the Franklin coach said.
Although it’s only two games into the new season, the Panthers look as though they are already in sync with one another and ready to make that push to the top.