Young North Middlesex squad eager for season – Lowell Sun
There’s a youth movement within the North Middlesex Regional field hockey program.
Graduation hit the Patriots hard this offseason with 12 players receiving their diplomas in June, meaning longtime head coach Kelly Marciano will have some holes to fill this fall.
“We did lose 12 seniors from last year so we are working hard this preseason to try and fill those areas.” said Marciano, now in her 17th year at the helm of the Patriots.
On Friday afternoon, Marciano and her squad were at Doyle Field for the annual season opening play date. The Patriots matched up against the host Blue Devils and finished up with a matchup against Fitchburg High.
North Middlesex’s varsity roster consists of 20 players this year, including a trio of senior captains. The remainder of the squad consists of four juniors, 10 sophomores and three freshmen.
The head coach has been impressed with what she’s seen from her captains in the early stages of the 2021 campaign.
“We have three senior captains this year in Carly Shugre, Jessie Nadeau and Taylor Poindexter and all three have done a great job so far. They organized the team workouts during the offseason. They’ve done a great job in that role up to this point. They’ve shown strong leadership.”
While Marciano will be looking for big things from her seniors, her juniors and sophomores are really going to be an important piece to the puzzle this fall for the Patriots.
“Our sophomore and junior class are the biggest ones out here and those, I would say, are our strength,” said Marciano. “It’s a really nice balance. It’s not like it’s a group of all forwards and no defense. It’s a good mix. What’s great about it is that these girls are already at that higher level with some big game experience. They have the chance to play together for the next two years and they are still improving and growing stronger, it’s a big plus and makes things pretty exciting.”
According to the Patriots head coach, the sophomores and juniors are a close-knit group and have really come together and gelled at just the right time, with the start of the season just days away.
“Most of these players have come through our camps and clinics and we’ve had the chance to work with them and help develop their skills the way we want to,” said Marciano. “There isn’t much undoing, it’s more continuing to teach and improve.”
In addition, Marciano will also be carrying three freshmen on her squad this fall and made it clear that if the trio continues to work hard, they will see their opportunity on the field.
“We’re not going to lose players and then fall off the next three or four years,” said Marciano. “We are consistent in feeding the varsity program and that’s going to be huge long term.”
The program will also feature 17 athletes on the junior varsity squad, working hard to develop their skills and be ready for their opportunity to move up to the next level.
“It’s exciting, the start of a new season,” said Marciano, whose team finished last year’s abbreviated season with a 5-4-1 mark. “It’s always nice to get a group of new, fresh faces and some new talent that come in here ready to go.”
Last fall, the game looked a different due to COVID-19 rule modifications, including teams playing seven-on-seven. This year, things have returned to normal as games with 11 players on the field for each team.
“We are really excited to get back to 11 players on the field,” said Marciano. “With COVID, it makes you realize that those things you made a big deal about before, weren’t such a big deal. We’re happy to be able to get back to 11v11 and returning to normal.”
North Middlesex is scheduled to open its campaign on Wednesday with a game against Leominster at Doyle Field. The Patriots’ first home game of the season will come three days later when perennial powerhouse Nashoba Regional comes to 1A Auto Field in Townsend.