Mt. Abe senior leads Addison Independent All-Star field hockey squad

ADDISON COUNTY — If a movie director pitched a script in which an all-star team leader capped a senior season with a hat trick in the championship game — and the third goal was the double-overtime game-winner — a studio head might reject the concept for not being believable.
But that’s just what happened on the University of Vermont’s Moulton-Wynder field back on Nov. 3.
And accomplishing that feat is one reason that Mount Abraham Union High School’s Jalen Cook earned another title: Addison Independent Player of the Year.
Cook was one of a talented group that helped Coach Mary Stetson’s Eagles to an 11-3-3 record and the Division II championship, the program’s eighth since 2000. Four more Eagles join Cook on the 2018 Addison Independent Field Hockey All-Star Team.
There was not much of a drop-off in quality this fall from Mount Abe to Coach Stacey Edmunds’ young 10-6 Otter Valley team, which played the Eagles tough in a 2-1 D-II semifinal setback. Four Otters are honored here.
Coach Chelsey Giuliani’s Middlebury team won just twice, one more victory than a year ago, but took a step forward in its quality of play. The Tigers won a D-II playoff game and then acquitted themselves well in a 2-0 quarterfinal loss to the Eagles. Two Tigers made the Independent team.
Selections were made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
JALEN COOK, MT. ABE SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Fast, tall and skilled athlete who broke through for 14 goals and three assists this fall, scoring five goals (yes, including all three in Mount Abe’s 3-2 win in the final) and two assists to figure in all seven Eagle postseason tallies … Unselfish four-year starter at forward, hard worker, team leader and captain, and excellent defender with an uncanny knack of using her long reach to win loose balls and poke the ball away from opponents.
Stetson’s Quotes: “She makes everybody around her better … She doesn’t want to lose, so that’s contagious … She was never worried about her own personal stats … I don’t think it’s ever about Jalen … Every time she stepped out there she was the kind of person who said, ‘I can do this better’ … She was flanked by two freshmen, and that forward line became very volatile. They all looked to her to lead … She played end line to end line, and she convinced everyone they needed to … To cap her career the way she did was awesome.”
ALIA EDMUNDS, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Talented go-to center forward who led all local players in points with 19 goals and five assists … Almost certainly the most skilled local player with excellent ballhandling ability, field vision and a wicked shot … Has racked up 35 goals and 12 assists the past two seasons and figured in 24 of OV’s 57 goals this fall.
Coach Edmunds’ Quotes: “She continues to develop her stickhandling … She’s working to be better and develop new skills … Alia did a nice job demonstrating her confidence in (her younger teammates). She was never afraid to give up the ball in the circle … I like the fact she is selfless like that, but when she does have the opportunity she’s not afraid to put it on goal … She certainly has strong defensive skills as well.”
CHESSLEY JACKMAN, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Three-year starter in goal for the Eagles whose communication skills for the second straight year helped organize a rebuilt back line that allowed 18 goals overall, 16 with her in net … Tall, mobile goalie with excellent cage coverage and ball control … Racked up 18 saves in 2-2 tie vs. CVU … Overall was credited with 120 saves and allowed 16 goals … Twin-State team selection.   
Stetson’s Quotes: “Chessley’s ability to make them (the new defenders) feel comfortable was amazing … She has the ability to stop (hard shots), but also play them to a space where they will not become dangerous … She really takes care of the ball … Her ability to have vision and really be the captain back there in terms of who do you mark, that’s tough stuff when you’re also worried about stopping the ball … That’s why we were really strong back there.”
EVAN LAURENT, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Quick and savvy offensive central midfielder who played a major role in the Eagle attack with a team-high eight assists, and chipped in with two goals … Converted forward whose skills, stamina and game sense translated well into her expanded role … Also played well defensively, often helping bottle teams up in their own end by anticipating and breaking up clearing attempts … Twin-State team selection.   
Stetson’s Quotes:  “She was the one who had to make the biggest adjustment of all the kids … She knew she could help the team more by being the central midfielder … She controlled the top of the circle and was relentless at keeping the ball in play so we were able to score … She distributed the ball well … She gave us great vision … Her stamina is pretty amazing, because her speed never varies … They never got a chance to start an attack because she would step out to the ball.”
SOPHIE MARKOWSKI, OV SENIOR. Notes: Playmaker who led all local players with nine assists and added four goals … Started at center mid and then moved to center forward to team with Edmunds and give OV a 1-2 punch in the middle … Smart player who used her excellent field vision to set up the attack and to read opponents plays and step up defensively … Has a good first step and solid stick skills.
Edmunds’ Quotes: “She sees the field very well …  We felt we needed someone with more experience on the front line in the middle … She anticipates where the ball needs to go. She anticipates where it’s coming from, where she needs to be defensively, and where she needs to be offensively … She’s really committed to the team … She’s just a super dependable player for us.”
CASONDRA DYKSTRA, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Moved this fall from flank midfield to defensive central midfield and excelled as part of the Eagles’ rebuilt defense … Tireless and speedy and played both ends of the field, contributing two goals and three assists … Skilled player who did good work triggering the Eagle transition game with good passing, often switching the point of attack … Twin-State team selection. 
Stetson’s Quotes: “Casondra was very strong at making a pretty new defense comfortable … She stopped a lot of play. She has really solid block-tackling skills … She’s fearless. She stepped to the ball well before someone could get a quick shot off … Her ability to mark some dangerous scorers in the league and in the playoffs really served us well … Defensively she shut people down … One thing she did well was carry the ball … This year her stick work matched her speed.”
MAIZY SHEPARD, MT. ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Poised first-year starter at center back who helped anchor a defense that allowed 18 goals in 17 games and posted nine shutouts while playing 10 D-I foes … Made five defensive saves, three in the playoffs, two with a high degree of difficulty vs. OV in the semifinal, and made other key plays in the back in the postseason … Good passer and smart decision-maker with the ball, and solid block-tackler.
Stetson’s Quotes:  “Maizy stepped into a huge role … She had two huge stuffs at the 16 in the Otter Valley game … Her ability to step to the ball and execute a nice block tackle just became stronger and stronger … She had very good, strong 16-yard hits coming out … She got the ball away from vulnerable places, made sure it was cleared wide … She marked the player that was most dangerous and made sure she didn’t receive the ball.”
MORGAN LaPORTE, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Clever scorer, mostly at right wing, whose 13 goals — third locally — came mostly from smart positioning and good stickwork finishing plays at the post … Improved her skill scoring and carrying the ball and serving from the flank this season, adding one assist …  Handled insertions on penalty corners for most of the fall.
Edmunds’ Quotes: “She developed from last year … She stepped up in terms of creating that forward movement, that forward momentum … She was much more consistent this year on getting her stick on that ball when it was coming at her at post … She was being more mindful about her positioning, and she was able to execute from the post … She’s willing to work … She was a presence for us.”
MAEVE HAMMEL, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Fit, quick and skilled left wing who scored five of the Tigers’ eight goals this fall … Smart player who is poised in the circle and knows how to finish … Has the skills and speed to take defenders on one-v-one in space on the wing, and a good passer who helped the Tigers in transition.
Giuliani’s Quotes: “She’s often exactly where she needs to be in goal-scoring scenarios … She has a really good amount of composure in front of net, and in general, as well … She has a really great ability to work the left side … Her positioning is strong across the board … She’s often out on the side exactly where we need her to establish some give-and-go and transition opportunities … She has strong stick skills. She has great hand-eye coordination.”
BELLA FALCO, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Moved in from flank midfield and took over at center middie when Markowski moved forward, and OV didn’t skip a beat … Smart, skilled and fast player whose defensive work, positional sense, ball movement and leadership was vital to the young OV midfield … Contributed two goals and an assist.
Edmunds’ Quotes: “Bella’s quick. She’s one of the quickest players we have on the team … She was willing to go back and hustle after the ball … She knows where people are and she can rotate and adjust responsibly so we don’t have holes in our coverage … Having her pick up that responsibility (at center mid) was critical … She had at times freshmen playing on both sides of her, and she was able to work with them in a way that allowed them to play to the best of their ability.”
GRACE WIDELITZ, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Skilled, smart player with good field vision who helped set up many chances as a forward playing in a transitional position … Assisted two goals, a total that certainly would have been greater on a different team, and scored the insurance goal in the Tigers’ 2-0 playoff victory … Team leader who helped the Tigers maintain an upbeat outlook despite adversity … Twin-State team selection.
Giuliani’s Quotes: “The first thing that makes her a good field hockey player is her intelligence … She makes good positional choices … She has really great communication skills. She is a director on the field … She had amazingly strong hits, both shots on goal and passes … She wants everyone to feel good and positive, and she will do what she feels necessary to create that type of environment … She was really essential in creating a positive team culture.”

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