ADDISON COUNTY — Locally in high school field hockey, 2013 was the year of the Eagle. After a highly competitive regular season in the Division I Metro Conference, the Mount Abraham Union High School team dominated the D-II playoffs on the way to the program’s seventh championship and first since 2006.
Many players contributed to the Coach Mary Stetson’s 10-3-3 Eagles’ success, but no one more than senior midfielder Madi Wood, whose two-way play earns her recognition as the 2013 Addison Independent Player of the Year. And when a group clearly establishes itself as the second-best team in the state behind D-I champion Essex, it’s no surprise to find five more Eagles on the 2013 Addison Independent Field Hockey All-Star Team.
Meanwhile, Coach Stacey Edmunds-Brickell’s deep and hardworking Otter Valley team also had a fine season, finishing 11-4 and earning a share of the Marble Valley League A Division crown. Two OV seniors earned Independent recognition.
Coach Megan Sears’ Middlebury Union High School squad finished at 4-8-3 in the best league in the state, a misleading record given they defeated D-I’s No. 3 seed on the road in their regular season finale. Midseason injuries to two players who otherwise could have received consideration here slowed the Tigers just as they were hitting their stride. Still, three Tigers are honored here.
Selections were made based on observation, statistics and consultation with coaches. Congratulations to the following:
MADI WOOD, MT. ABE SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Skilled, do-it-all central midfielder who helped the Eagles from circle to circle … Stepped into the attack and contributed four goals and six assists … Flew on defensive penalty corners and broke up many, and made many other key defensive plays … Stopped countless opponents’ advances at midfield by picking off passes or stealing the ball off the dribble … Quarterbacked the Eagles at midfield with slick stickhandling and passing.
Stetson’s quotes: “Madi did stuff that was unheralded … In all aspects of the game she was the general out there … She held the top of the circle, which gave us many more scoring chances … She became a little bit of a sniper … She has a very strong fitness level … She keeps her balance well when she plays defense… She was relentless at being a team player.”
BRITTANY BUSHEY, OV SENIOR. Notes: Versatile four-year starter for the Otters who tied for the local high with nine goals and added four assists … Fast, unselfish forward with fine field vision and scoring touch … Team leader who redefended tirelessly when OV lost the ball … Good athlete with stamina, a strong drive and excellent stick skills.
Edmunds-Brickell’s Quotes: “She had a phenomenal season ... Her numbers don’t even come close to reflecting her contributions on the field to our offense ... She caused turnovers ... She set up a lot of offensive plays ... She’s a real mover and shaker ... She could make things happen … She just grew tremendously as a leader ... I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
SAM REISS, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Triggered the Eagle attack from right midfield with strong hits and smart passing … Scored four goals, none bigger than pad strike in the 2-1 win in the D-II final, and added two assists … Fine stickhandler who reads passing lanes, tackles well and keeps offensive and defensive pressure on opponents … Valuable defender.
Stetson’s quotes: “She was explosive and she has a real strong hit … Sam won possession for us in the open field … Her ability to stop most any ball is very strong … She gave us numerous chances at the net … She started to develop some new dodges. She became a much more volatile player because of that … Sam is not afraid of the ball at all.”
SAM DRISCOLL, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Blended speed, field vision and stick skill to lead the Eagles in total points with seven goals and a local high of eight assists … Aggressive player who reads play well offensively and pursues the ball relentlessly defensively … Played and used her quickness well both in the open field and in crowded space in the circle.
Stetson’s quotes: “The thing that makes her deadly is her ability to distribute the ball … She did everything I asked her and more … She was relentless … I don’t think she took a break … Her ability to know when to pass the ball is the best of any one on our team, and she also gives a nice pass … Her ability to change speeds and use her dodges made her very dynamic.”
PAIGE VIENS, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Fast, hard-working forward who led the Tigers with seven goals and set up three others … Contributed a goal in the Tigers’ 2-1 win at Champlain Valley to close the regular season and a goal and an assist in their first-round playoff win … Sees the field well and moves well off the ball, and has a knack for winning 50-50 balls.
Sears’ Quotes: “Paige, a co-captain, was a strong leader on our forward line … During games, her teammates always could count on her as a pass option with the ability to continue to move the ball up field … Her determination and ability to get the ball in the goal, which lead her to be the high scorer of our team, is a quality she worked to instill in her fellow forwards.”
KATE KNOWLES, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Versatile, quick and skilled four-year varsity athlete who swung back and forth between midfield and the front line and played well at both spots … Contributed four goals and three assists, and also made them count: Her penalty stroke vs. CVU’s all-Metro goalie was the game-winner, and recorded a goal and an assist in the playoff win.
Sears’ Quotes: “Kate’s constant speed and fluid stick skills allowed her move the ball up the field with ease … She constantly communicated with her teammates on the field, and as co-captain, motivated endlessly … Her speed in the midfield, strong dodging, and strong hit or push at the top of the circle helped our offense to have a real presence in the offensive zone.”
GABRIELLE SCHLEIN, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Heady senior forward who raised her game in the playoffs, scoring three goals in the quarterfinal and the only goal in their 1-0 semifinal win … Finished tied for the local lead with nine goals and set up one more … Showed a knack for hitting the corners and carving out shooting space in the circle, and improved her open-field play.
Stetson’s quotes: “She has a good explosive first step … She picked the corner, and she didn’t hesitate to shoot … She’s not selfish in the least. She just did her job well … She understood her role and did a great job executing … Her skills improved dramatically from last year … Her ability to move without the ball really helped,”
ANNA THOMPSON, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Had an excellent season as the center back with the more forward role in the Eagle system, constantly stepping up to break up opponents’ plays at midfield and trigger the attack as well as play solid defense … Smart passer who set up many runs and recorded two assists … Solid block- and jab-tackler and stickhandler.
Stetson’s quotes: “You could call her an offensive back … She did the job very well. … She took away the passing lanes … She did a great job of either carrying the ball or sending it wide or giving us an opportunity to start our small passing game … She’s a good marker, knew when to take her mark … She gets herself in good defensive position.”
GABRIELLE RYAN, MT. ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Excelled as Eagle center back with the more defensive posture, keying a defense that allowed one goal in its final five games and one shot in the final two playoff contests … Took a leadership role in an inexperienced back line … Strong tackler, smart positional defender who understands when to pass and when to carry out of the back.
Stetson’s quotes: “Her ability to know when to tackle is a key reason why she did so well back there ... She held the center … She broke up so many fast break opportunities … She also knew when to step to intercept … Once she got the ball it wasn’t just this frantic pass, it was this real deliberate look to start us on the attack.”
OLIVIA BLOOMER, OV SENIOR. Notes: Central defender and vocal leader of a young defense that posted seven shutouts … Skilled player who moved the ball well out of the back and played strong individual and team defense … Reads opponents’ plays and tactics and tackles well.
Edmunds-Brickell’s Quotes: “She’s strong in the back ... She had a great season ... She was a key to our defense ... She had good skills, for sure ... She anticipates well. She understands what needs to happen and communicates with the other backs ... She knows where she’s going with the ball before she gets it ... She can cover space effectively when she’s outnumbered.”
BAILY RYAN, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Faced the heaviest pressure of the local goalies, especially when injuries struck the Tigers’ center back and center middie simultaneously, and was credited with 207 saves while allowing 40 goals, stopping shots at an 84 percent rate … Put in the effort to improve in all aspects of the craft, challenging shooters, clearing the ball out of trouble and communicating with defenders.
Sears’ Quotes: “Game after game Baily not only was an integral part of the strength of our defense, but she continued to lead and motivate everyone … Her ability to always be positive and confidently step to the ball to come up with the save are results of the hard work she put forth all season.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.