Tiger tandem tops Independent all-star field hockey squad

ADDISON COUNTY — This fall saw solid results for the area’s union high school field hockey teams, with Middlebury and Otter Valley making state semifinals and Mount Abraham pushing OV to the limit in a Division II quarterfinal.
Chemistry, skill and hard work helped create success for the teams, as did a number of excellent individual efforts that are recognized here on the 2014 Addison Independent Field Hockey All-Star Team.
Two Middlebury athletes, one at either end of the field, contributed just a little more to their teams than the other members of the Independent squad. Both deserve recognition as the 2014 Addison Independent Co-Players of the Year — senior goalie Baily Ryan and junior forward Sara Kelley.
They and the two other Tiger Independent all-stars helped Coach Megan Sears and their teammates to an 8-5-2 record, including three overtime setbacks — that for a program that won one game two years ago and five games in 2013.
Coach Stacey Edmunds-Brickell’s Otters compiled a 12-3 record that included a 7-0 mark vs. D-I competition. They probably deserved a berth in the D-II final once they got past the Eagles, but lost in overtime in the semifinal while playing without the services of one of four Otters who are recognized on the Independent squad.
Coach Mary Stetson’s Eagles did not repeat in D-II, but compiled a 7-8 record that included 12 games against D-I teams in the state’s toughest league, the Metro Conference. Three Eagles are included here, two of them part of a strong defense.
Selections were made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following: 
BAILY RYAN, MUHS SENIOR, CO-PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Three-year starter whose work to improve paid off with a big season … Showed good judgment on when to stay at home and when to venture out and break up plays … Communicated well to organize a defense with two new starters … Posted five shutouts and blanked two more teams in regulation before OT losses … Was credited with 122 saves and 19 goals against for an 0.865 save percentage.
Sears’ Quotes: “Baily overall was such a leader for our team … She was able to really communicate and help our defense … Baily just constantly has a vision for where the ball is on the field, and she always has been able to react to where the ball is … She has the confidence to make beautiful saves … Her defense really took comfort in her ability to defend the goal. She did it very well.”
SARA KELLEY, MUHS JUNIOR, CO-PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Forward who blossomed into one of the top threats in the Metro … Netted a local high of 16 goals, half of the Tigers’ output, and added three assists … Speed and improved stick skills made her dangerous carrying the ball, dodging defenders and shooting … A threat on penalty corners and adept on one-timing crosses … Big goals included OT game-winner in Tigers’ D-I quarterfinal.
Sears’ Quotes: “She really gained composure in carrying the ball … She outran players. She was able to get up the field quickly with the ball … She always worked hard in practice to refine the little things, and refining the little things really paid off for her in games, especially in finding the back of the net.”
MARISSA COLBURN, OV SENIOR. Notes: Versatile player who was asked to move to center back to shore up the OV defense and thrived in that role … Used poise, quickness and skill to anchor a group that allowed 13 goals in 15 games and posted seven shutouts … Solid individual defender and smart team defender who triggered the OV transition from the back … Recorded a goal and an assist.
Edmunds-Brickell’s Quotes: “Marissa is an all-around field hockey player. She produces on the front line. She’s consistent in the midfield, and she’s solid in the backfield … She would have preferred to be up front, but she was willing to go where the team needed her, and she did it brilliantly. We put her in the center for a reason … She’s got a really good head for the game.”
GABRIELLE RYAN, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Center back who compiled another steady season for an Eagle defense that allowed 16 goals in 15 games and recorded five shutouts … Showed poise and composure as the Eagle backs saw more pressure this year with youth elsewhere on the field … Read plays and defended one-vs.-one well, used her skills to make good decisions with the ball, and excelled at defending penalty corners.
Stetson’s Quotes: “Gabby is just a real calming presence back there. She settles us down … She always gets the ball out of the threatening areas … Her initial defending skills are very strong … Her role on penalty corners was to read the corner and take away the pass to the weak side, and she did that well … There was never any panic about here. She’s very solid.”
ELLIE GEVRY, MT. ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Improved her play and made an impact this fall as the more forward of the two Eagle central defenders … Used quick feet and skills to break up many opposing threats before they reached the Eagle circle … Stepped up and used her skill and field vision to create chances for the Mount Abe forwards … Scored two goals and set one up.
Stetson’s Quotes: “She started to distribute the ball well for us … She utilizes her opportunities well when she gets the offensive chances … She took a step forward … Her individual stick skills became consistent … She’s a consummate teammate and understands the concept of team defense.”
TAJAH MARSDEN, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Tremendous defensive midfielder who sparked the Tigers’ transition from defense to offense with her speed, stickhandling skills and passing … Served as the flyer on defensive penalty corners and broke up dozens of plays … Tireless athlete with a knack for winning the ball … Picked up two assists … Was playing field hockey for just her second season.
Sears’ Quotes: “She is the speed demon … She was a strong presence in our defensive end, and then would help carry the ball up the field and then be a strong presence in our offensive end … She had the ability to take away offensive opportunities for the other teams, especially on offensive corners … She had the composure to dodge opponents in a really beautiful way.”  
MAIA EDMUNDS, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Smart, skilled center middie who served as the focal point of the OV attack, taking most restarts in the offensive end and recording a local high of eight assists … Capable of driving the ball powerfully or making touch passes … Possesses excellent stick skills and the ability to dodge opponents … Smart defender who read passing lanes.
Edmunds-Brickell’s Quotes: “She was solid for us all year … She has a great arsenal … She was consistent … She set up our offensive movement … Maia was sort of that navigator of the field. She was seeing it and reading it … Maia’s stick skills I think were probably the strongest on the team … That, combined with her ability to see what’s in front of her, made her so dangerous.”
LAURA ROBERTS, OV SENIOR. Notes: Determined, tireless, competitive midfielder … Sparked the attack and prevented threats by constantly winning the ball … Two-way player who recorded three goals and three assists but never failed to fulfill her defensive responsibilities … Probably OV’s best player in the semifinal with a relentless effort.
Edmunds-Brickell’s Quotes: “She can cover the field front to back … She comes back to help the defense, and covers serious territory, pushes it up to the front, and then can be there in the circle for rebounds … She has a good attitude and great stamina. We call her our Energizer Bunny … She’s committed and works hard … Her stick skills are strong, and her natural ability to just move and cruise were just fun to watch.”
DANIELLE BACHAND, MT. ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Emerged as a vital cog for Mount Abe at center mid, both offensively and defensively, especially as the season progressed … Defended well at midfield, at the top of the Eagle circle, and vs. opponents trying to clear their end … Triggered the Eagle offense with smart passing, and scored one goal and set up two.
Stetson’s Quotes: “I think Danielle decided midway through the season she had it all figured it out … She did a great job of switching fields and directing play … Offensively she became a threat … Her stick skills improved. She started to read the game better and became more confident … She worked hard at it … She started to become the field general.”
ALLISON LOWELL, OV SOPHOMORE. Notes: Relentless attacker with a nose for the ball who led OV with 13 goals and added three assists … Quick to the ball in the circle with the skills to finish, including an accurate shot … Works hard off the ball and in defending opponents in transition.
Edmunds-Brickell’s Quotes: “Allison is born to score … She comes to play whether it is a practice or a game. I think that shows on the field … When you put a ball on the stick in the circle, she has tunnel vision. She knows she wants the ball in the cage … She has great stick skills. She’s light on her feet.”
LAUREN BARTLETT, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Reliable scorer and passer who contributed nine goals and four assists to the Tiger attack … Used her skills and communication ability to help the Tigers move the ball up the field into the attack … Scored the game-winner in key, early 1-0 victory over Hartford.
Sears’ Quotes: “Lauren had a great year because she was a communicator … She would come deep below our defensive 25 and help … She also had the confidence to carry the ball strongly into the circle offensively and make strong, angled passes … Having that hunger for the back of the net really helped her.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]

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