Tigers, Otters top hockey picks

ADDISON COUNTY — Ultimately, each of the local high school field hockey teams dealt with some disappointment this fall despite the fine individual performances honored here in the 2009 Addison Independent Field Hockey All-Star Team.
At the same time, each also had either much of which to be proud or plenty to build on for the future, or both.
First-year coach Gary Hodder’s Otter Valley squad compiled the best local record, 12-2-1, while playing a Division II schedule. The Otters also proved through the course of the regular season they were clearly the finest D-II had to offer regardless of their first-round playoff upset: They outscored the two D-II finalists, 14-1, in sweeping four regular-season games against them. Four Otters earned Independent honors.
Coach Kelley Higgins’ 6-7-3 Tigers did not meet preseason won-loss projections in the challenging D-I Metro Conference, partly, it’s safe to say, because their luck just didn’t even out in the course of the regular season. A better indication of the quality of their play is that they outshot every foe except D-I top seed Champlain Valley. Five Tigers merited spots on the Independent squad.
Mount Abraham coach Mary Stetson probably won’t remember as a banner year this 0-14-1 season, which included eight one-goal losses by her D-II team against D-I foes. But she might recall it as the season that a team with talented athletes, but just one senior, gained valuable varsity experience that laid a foundation for future success. Two skilled junior Eagles are recognized here.
Selections for the Independent team are based on observation, consultation with the coaches and statistics. Congratulations to the following:
SHELBY LAFRAMBOISE, MUHS, SENIOR FORWARD. Notes: Tremendously skilled, fiercely competitive four-year varsity athlete whose five goals and one assist don’t begin to describe her contributions … Played a vital role in helping the Tigers dominate possession and advancing the ball up the field by getting open for passes, carrying and moving the ball, and pressuring opponents … Excelled moving with or without the ball, and exceptionally strong and clever with the ball.
Higgins’ Quotes: “She’s always had strong stick skills, but this year she became a more versatile player by using her teammates, by passing sooner … I don’t know any other player who does what she does with a stick and a ball … She took that competitive spirit and used it to motivate her teammates in a positive way.”
KRISTY PINKHAM, OV, JUNIOR CENTER MIDFIELDER. Notes: Tough, tireless, talented two-way player who not only defended and distributed well for the Otters, but also contributed 11 goals and a local high of 15 assists … Took most of the Otters’ free hits … Typically dominated the center of the field with speed and skill, and also ranged from sideline to sideline to disrupt opponents and set up plays.
Hodder’s Quotes: “She is the engine room of the team … She gets all over the field … She has lots of energy. She’s very aggressive … She’s a good leader for the team, a good team player … She’s very talented. A lot of what you see when she plays comes from natural talent … She was the best all-around player I saw in our games.”
KAITLYN KIRKALDY, MUHS, SENIOR DEFENDER. Notes: Smart, highly skilled and fast three-year varsity player who anchored a defense that surrendered just 15 goals in 16 games … Scored once in late-season road win and assisted the first goal in the Tigers’ 2-0 playoff victory … Adept passer out of the back … Showed good communication and leadership skills on defense and as a tri-captain.
Higgins’ Quotes: “I love Kaitlyn’s work ethic. It’s incredible … It motivated her teammates. It motivated me. That would be true on the field and off the field … She was a steady voice on the field for the defense … She wanted to play in both circles, to get into the attack, too.”
TIFFANY AUDET, MUHS, JUNIOR MIDFIELDER. Notes: Relentless, quick center middie whose ball-winning ability helped the Tigers dominate possession in games … Consistently prevailed in one-on-one battles and stepped up to break up clearing attempts … Displayed solid skills and was exceptionally strong on the ball, offensively and defensively.
Higgins’ Quotes: “When she was playing her best, the team upped their play around her … I see her very much as a catalyst with good vision … When she went back to win the ball, or got to the ball first, it lit a fire under everyone else.”
EMILY WALDRIP, OV, SENIOR FORWARD. Notes: Smart forward, with plenty of speed, excellent stick skills and a good sense of the game … Scored 16 goals and set up eight … Captain and key leader on a team that developed strong unity.
Hodder’s Quotes: “She’s probably our most skilled player … She’s a very fast, a very direct player … The way we played the objective was to get her in the circle as much as possible with the ball … She’s a very clever player and creates a lot of chances.”
SHAYNA MCDONOUGH, OV, SENIOR FORWARD. Notes: Savvy player who provided a perfect counterpoint to Waldrip up front by seemingly always being in the right place at the right time … Scored 17 goals, including an overtime game-winner vs. Mount Anthony, and racked up 10 assists … Accurate shooter.
Hodder’s Quotes: “Shayna is a natural goal-scorer … She very, very good in scrums around the net … She instinctively stood in the right place … You give her one-quarter of a chance, and the ball is in the net … She’s very good at hitting the sideboard.”
CHRISSY RITTER, MUHS, SOPHOMORE FORWARD/MIDFIELDER. Notes: Second-year varsity player who led the Tigers in scoring for the second time with six goals, adding three assists … Fast, versatile athlete with rapidly improving stick skills and field vision … Shifted seamlessly between left wing and left middie.
Higgins’ Quotes: “She had a knack for scoring, and a hunger … She has good hand-eye coordination, and speed … She had such a sense of fun, but would always take to heart what you told her and worked to get better … She started picking up more skills, and part of that was taking on her opponents one-on-one.”
COURTNEY JIPNER, MOUNT ABE, JUNIOR FORWARD. Notes: Aggressive, determined forward with fine skills and a nose for the ball and the goal … Scored four of Mount Abe’s eight goals and set up three others … Had the versatility to play four games at central midfield … Quick, and strong on the ball both ways.
Stetson’s Quotes: “Once things settled out, we put her up front to generate attack … Courtney is the Energizer bunny who really makes things happen for us … She has that natural ability to keep going … She pressures the ball real well … She has the best stick skills on our team … She can maneuver in tight spaces and read the field real well.”
MARINA VITAGLIANO, OV, JUNIOR DEFENDER. Notes: Heady, fast defender who provided a steady presence at center back for OV … Helped anchor a defense that allowed 14 goals in 15 games … Possesses good stick and passing skills and defends well individually and in the team concept.
Hodder’s Quotes: “I always have my strongest players down the middle of the field, and that’s why I put her in there … She’s very quick. She’s got good skills and positional sense … She knows what her job is, and she does it … She can bring the ball out, and she passes it well … She reads the game well.”
ALIZA KAMMAN, MOUNT ABE, JUNIOR MIDFIELDER/DEFENDER. Notes: Solid tackler and passer who stabilized Mount Abe’s defense at center back after an early-season move there from midfield … Grew steadily more adept at stepping up and breaking up plays at midfield as well as defending well in the circle and final third of the field.
Stetson’s Quotes: “Aliza does a really good job back there. She’s solid … She was the reason our defense gelled in the end, no question … She was quick to clear the ball out of the circle … She had a really strong hit, which helped us numerous times.”
KAYLA WHITTEMORE, MUHS, SENIOR GOALIE. Notes: Played like a veteran in the cage after not touching a field hockey stick since middle school … Reacted quickly and confidently to shots, and quickly learned when to come out and challenge shooters or to kick the ball out of trouble … 4-4-3 record as a starter with five shutouts and an 86.7 percent save rate overall, 90 percent once she played fulltime.
Higgins’ Quotes: “She is a tremendous athlete in every sense of the word. She just picked up the position with natural gut instinct … It helped she had quick reflexes … She had an immediate impact on the team. They had such confidence in her … She was a joy to coach.”

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