The rebuilding Vineyarder varsity field hockey team dropped its home opener, 6-0, to the Sandwich Blue Knights Wednesday afternoon at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), falling to 0-2 in Coach Becky Nutton’s first season.
An experienced and opportunistic Sandwich team scored three times in each half to seal the victory.
Game experience was a big factor in the outcome, both coaches said. MVRHS graduated 13 seniors, mostly starters, from the 2018 squad that made the postseason tournament. Sandwich graduated one senior from a young team that made it to the south sectional semifinals last year.
Playing time was hard to come by for the current Vineyarders in 2018. “Really, only two or three players had much playing time last year,” Coach Nutton said after the game.
On the other hand, “We had one senior last year and a lot of eighth and ninth graders, everybody played,” said a buoyant Kelsy Beaton, 20-year coach of the Blue Knights.
“Sandwich was a tough, smart opponent. They knew how to get in position to have fouls called and how to penetrate our defensive circle near the goal. We know what to work on, including defensive and offensive positioning and that’s what we’ll do. And no head-hanging. We hold our heads up,” Nutton said.
Certainly, the game was a study in contrasts as Sandwich appeared more confident, moved the ball more fluidly and set up quickly on offense and defense. The Vineyarders appeared tentative in the first half, and looked like talented players learning to play as a team. Senior Vineyarder goaltender Amelia Simmons reprised her hockey goaltending skills, turning away 13 shots, several of the pointblank variety.
The Vineyarders came out fired up in the second half and dominated play in the early going with players, including Emily Mello, Ellie Dolby, Skyla Harthcock and buzzsaw winger Ava BenDavid, drawing spontaneous praise from teammates on the sidelines.
The work in progress continues Saturday at 11:30 am against Brockton High School at home.