KP’s Field Hockey Team Got Results with Kindness

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
December, 2018
Article Body: 

The King Philip Regional field hockey team had a memorable season for a variety of reasons but focusing on kindness doesn’t seem like a commodity that would produce a 16-1-1 regular-season record or two victories in the Division 1 tournament.
The Warriors’ co-coaches — Kim Meehan and Erin MacDonald — beg to differ.
The tandem had no idea they’d be coaching the Warriors this year but when a vacancy occurred a week before pre-season practice, they stepped up and filled the void. They both played field hockey in high school and coached it at sub-varsity levels. The moms each have four children and both had a daughter competing at a high level on the team.
Emphasizing kindness seemed like a stretch, especially in a conference as intense as the Hockomock League. But, they took a page out of their parenting notebook and made kindness a key ingredient in developing team chemistry.
“There isn’t enough kindness anymore,’’ they said. “And, that goes for all areas of life. The philosophy we stressed to the girls was that if they worked hard and treated each other with kindness, then amazing things could happen.’’
And, they did.
KP finished its season at 18-2-1 and won the Kelly-Rex Division title. “We saw some players transformed,’’ said Meehan and MacDonald. “Players who showed frustration for whatever reason suddenly displayed positive reinforcement. And, if there was a negative attitude, it changed to being supportive.’’
The Warriors opened tourney play by defeating Norwood, 3-1. Then they beat Barnstable, 4-0, before bowing to Somerset-Berkley, a team that had two boys in the starting lineup. KP lost, 3-1, and ended its season one triumph shy of playing for the Sectional title.
The kindness theme, nevertheless, got results while teaching a valuable life lesson. And, it made a good team better. “We developed a close-knit unity,’’ the coaches said. “And, it helped to promote team spirit and sportsmanship. We hope we made an impact.’’
The KP girls no doubt were “warriors’’ for kindness but they also had other strengths that led to a successful campaign. They relied on a high field-hockey IQ, technical skills, athleticism and physical fitness. “We believed that if our kids were fit, they could outrun just about any team,’’ MacDonald said. “We also stressed nutrition and how to eat right,’’ Meehan emphasized.
KP’s defense was one for the ages. The Warriors allowed only 11 goals in 18 games of regular-season play. That’s an average of 0.61 per game. Their offense also was strong — 89 goals in 18 games translates to 4.9 goals a game.
“Against Somerset-Berkley, we took a 1-0 lead but they regained momentum and scored the next three goals,’’ MacDonald noted. “It was sad to see the season end that way.’’
KP’s players, however, respected their new coaches’ knowledge of the game and their disciplined style. “Our transition was smooth,’’ the coaches said. “We made sure the girls knew we trusted them but they also knew that we were the captains of the ship.’’
Here’s a thumbnail look at the girls who made the 2018 field hockey season at KP memorable and meaningful. The comments are from both coaches.
Allison Meehan A senior, the multi-talented center-midfielder led the league in goals and assists and is an outstanding ball-carrier on the field. A two-time captain, she’s been a four-year varsity player. Awarded a full scholarship to play at Northeastern University, she was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the Hockomock League.
Kate Lindmark A versatile senior, she shifted from midfield to defense and provided the team with exceptional passing; powerful and accurate free hits; relentless defensive coverage; great motivation; and a strong work ethic. She was chosen as a Hockomock League all-star and likely will be playing Division 2 field hockey next fall.
Samantha Robison A junior, she’s a strong defender who is almost impenetrable on the right side of the field. Her stick-work and footwork are exceptional and she has incredible instincts. A league all-star, she played a key role in KP yielding a meager 11 goals in its 18 regular season games.
Meghan MacDonald Only a freshman, the right wing managed to score 13 goals and 12 assists during the regular season, numbers that gave her a No. 4 ranking in league scoring. Her ball-control skills, speed and strength make her an exceptional player. She earned honorable-mention all-star honors in the league.
Nicole Conner A senior, the midfielder relied on fast footwork, stick-work and passing ability. She had 9 goals and 15 assists.
Emma Izydorczak A senior captain, the sweeper was dynamic in KP holding opponents to only 11 goals in the regular season. She’s powerful, strong and clears the ball effectively. She will play next fall for St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
Dana Truini A hard-working senior midfielder, she’s an accurate passer, is quick and instinctive. She had 3 goals and 6 assists in the regular season.
Claire Lawler A senior captain, the wing is very supportive of her teammates. A good passer, her rebounding ability is very strong.
Christina Gifun Only a freshman, she stepped up as a defender and helped KP become super-strong on the defensive end. Her ball control and decision-making are good and she has a high field hockey IQ.
Abby Nixon A sophomore center forward, she’s been a very versatile player, able to compete both on offense and defense. Her work ethic is strong and her stick-work is excellent. She can dribble and pass and is strong in the circle.
Grace May A junior goalie, she had a goal-against average of 0.48 in the regular season. She possesses good field sense and is technically sound.
Makenzie Manning A sophomore goalie, she alternated with May and turned in a goals-against average of 0.77 in the regular season. She’s aggressive in net and also athletic.
The reserves included sophomore midfielder Paige Berdos, junior forward Raegan Simeone and sophomore forward Olivia Kulesza. “Our reserves are up-and-coming players, but if needed, they were capable of stepping in,’’ the coaches said.