ADDISON COUNTY — Once again, the three local high school field hockey teams proved this fall they could play with anybody in Vermont, thanks in part to the contributions of the members of the 2010 Addison Independent Field Hockey All-Star Team.
Coach Gary Hodder’s Otter Valley team won the most games, 12, and reached the Division II final. Midfielder Kristy Pinkham, the 2010 Independent Player of the Year, sparked the Otters all over the field, from defending penalty corners to figuring in 70 percent of their offense. Two teammates who helped hold OV’s opponents to 13 goals this fall join Pinkham on the Independent team.
Coach Kelley Higgins’ Middlebury squad went 8-6-3 against the toughest competition in the state, including winning two playoff games to reach the D-II semifinals. The Tigers made a legitimate argument for being the third or fourth best team in Vermont, and five are honored here.
Coach Mary Stetson’s D-II Mount Abraham team compiled a misleading 2-11-1 regular season record against a full slate of D-I foes. The Eagles easily won a first-round playoff game before taking eventual D-II champion Harwood into overtime in a D-II semifinal, a better indication of the quality of their play. Three Eagle seniors earned recognition here.
Selections were made based on observation, statistics, consultation with the coaches and overall contributions to the teams’ success. Congratulations to the following:
KRISTY PINKHAM, OV SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR.
Notes: Tireless, skilled midfielder who scored eight of OV’s 20 goals and assisted six ... Speedy, relentless defender who served as the flyer on OV’s defensive penalty corner team, and whose offensive ability keyed the corners at the other ... Strong, consistent hitter whose passing and driving created chances and earned territory ... Emerged as a positive leader.
Hodder’s Quotes: “She was the engine room of the team, full of energy and running ... She was also a captain and fantastic role model for the other players ... She plays officially in the center of midfield but will cover every blade of grass during a game ... She scored several goals from penalty corners and scared opposing defenses with her bullet-like shot ... Kristy is one of best individual players in Vermont.”
COURTNEY JIPNER, MOUNT ABE SENIOR.
Notes: Quick, versatile player who sacrificed her offense by moving from forward to central midfield to quarterback the team ... Aggressive athlete with a knack for winning 50-50 balls and reading passing lanes ... Smart passer and individual defender who flew on defensive corners ... Scored two goals and assisted three, including two scores in the Eagles’ playoff win.
Stetson’s Quotes: “She’s the type of player any coach would want to have on the team. She was willing to accept any role to make the team better ... She had an amazing ability to help any player around her ... She just kept going and going and going ... Her skills speak for themselves ... She had an explosive step to the ball ... She wreaked chaos for opposing teams.”
TIFFANY AUDET, MUHS SENIOR.
Notes: Three-year starter and dominant ball-winner at central midfield for MUHS ... Terrific stamina and quickness allowed her to be effective from start to finish and allow the Tigers to maintain possession ... Strong skills and driving ability kept the ball moving to the MUHS forwards ... Chipped in a goal and two assists ... Joined Pinkham and Jipner on the Vermont Twin-State team.
Higgins’ Quotes: “She’s a complete player ... I’m impressed by her work ethic. She would come early to practice and stay after ... She ran hard to the final whistle. She wanted it so badly ... The stamina for her to be at both ends of the field was huge ... When she went to the ball, it was like a fire that inspired the whole team.”
KATIE RITTER, MUHS SENIOR.
Notes: Picked up a field hockey stick for the first time in 2009, and led all local players in 2010 with 11 goals, adding five assists ... Used her speed on the right wing to get open, and learned to cross effectively into the circle ... Improved her touch near the goal, especially at the post.
Higgins’ Quotes: “She’s a gifted athlete ... We all enjoyed watching her carry the ball down the right side of the field, and we enjoyed watching her send it like a rocket toward the cage ... The thing I wanted Katie to hear from me is I recognized how much she improved in two years and how hard she worked on the little things.”
SARA HIGGINS, MUHS SENIOR.
Notes: Always an effective finisher, improved her field play both in handling the ball and setting up teammates ... Scored eight goals, many on quick shots on serves or loose balls ... Improved field awareness showed up in her local high of eight assists.
Higgins’ Quotes: “The improvements Sara made away from the goal were working on her speed in the offseason, and once she got to the ball she made good decisions ... She became more successful coming away with the ball ... She was an improved passer ... What I loved about her was her ability to one-time it in.”
CHRISSY RITTER, MUHS JUNIOR.
Notes: Assertive, speedy athlete who contributed seven goals and three assists this fall ... North-south player who used her quickness and stick skills to take on defenders and advance straight at the opponents’ goal ... Also showed good field vision and ability to distribute.
Higgins’ Quotes: “I do think that she’s got a lot within her still, but that being said she’s still one of the strongest players on the field ... She really cares and wants the team to do well ... Her speed and her improvement beating the defense one-on-one made her effective ... She was direct and aggressive on offense.”
MEGAN ROCKWELL, MOUNT ABE SENIOR.
Notes: Midfield sparkplug for the Eagles who, like Jipner, could also have been an effective scorer ... Two-way player who marked and read passing lanes well on defense, and had the skills and vision to create chances for her teammates ... Tireless, quick player who seemed to get stronger in second halves ... Had two assists.
Stetson’s Quotes: “She’s just real consistent ... She comes out with the ball ... She had good strong crossing passes ... She was very solid in that (defensive) role. She transitioned well back to defense, and right away gave us a good step out on offense.”
BRANDI WHITTEMORE, MUHS JUNIOR.
Notes: Fast two-way midfielder with a strong drive ... Used her speed to recover and help the Tigers in the back, and improved her defensive skill-set ... Put pressure on opponents by routinely disrupting clears and sending the ball back into the circle ... Scored twice and set up a goal.
Higgins’ Quotes: “She has natural speed, which we relied on greatly ... Her conditioning level was impressive, and we could not have done without that piece, because we expected her to be lighting a fire under the offense and marking back defensively ... Her positive attitude was a plus for the team.”
MARINA VITAGLIANO, OV SENIOR.
Notes: Center back who keyed the Otters’ stingy defense with her skills, poise and communication skills ... Read plays well, allowing her to disrupt opponents advances before they became threatening ... Effective in tight quarters in the circle breaking up plays and sending the ball the other way ... Picked up one assist.
Hodder’s Quotes: “She was one of our captains and a leader both on and off the field ... Marina was a great organizer in the center of the defense and anticipator of dangerous situations ... She was very good at bringing the ball out of the circle and launching counter attacks.”
ALIZA KAMMAN, MOUNT ABE SENIOR.
Notes: Always a steady defender, took a step forward this fall by improving her driving and passing out of the back ... Poised player with a good understanding of the game who helped keep the defense organized ... Three-year starter for the Eagles who also played midfield well in her career.
Stetson’s Quotes: “She did a good job shutting down very dangerous situations and anticipating things before they could develop against you ... She marked well. She made good defensive stops ... You could rely on her. She communicated well ... She knew when to possess the ball and when to give up the ball ... She was very calm and collected.”
CHELSEA ROBBINS, OV JUNIOR.
Notes: Two-year starter in goal who racked up nine shutouts in 15 games, stopping 67 of 80 shots ... Stopped four of five penalty strokes vs. Woodstock in the D-II semifinal ... Showed excellent reflexes and technique as well as the understanding of when to leave the cage and clear the ball our of harm’s way.
Hodder’s Quotes: “Chelsea excelled this season in goal ... She’s a good talker and organizer as well as a top shot stopper ... When the opposition did manage to get to her she was always alert to the danger and quick off her line to snuff out attacks.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]