WOBURN — For Woburn High field hockey, the experience for the players goes far beyond the wins and losses in the standings. It is about working hard and developing some team bonds that is fulfilling.

This year the playing experience will also be very different as the new MIAA COVID-19 protocols will bring about 7-on-7 play instead of the usual 11 vs. 11.

The Tanners also face only the other five teams in the Middlesex League’s Liberty Division, playing them twice each with a largely inexperienced roster. With just three returnees back from last year’s team, and with 32 players in the program coming off a 1-15 season, Woburn will likely find it once again a big challenge this year.

“We have some good experience this year with three returning seniors, including a returning two-time All-Star,” said 20th-year Woburn head coach Barbara Locke. “We also have some good newcomers, so overall our chemistry is just great. The kids worked hard over the summer, and have worked hard during the pre-season, so I feel we have a good vibe. They are just great kids who support each other, and everyone will get their share of playing time even with seven vs. seven.”

While the Tanners lost all of last year’s forwards and goalie Amani Anderson, who opted not to return this year, two of their returning players are midfielders along with a returning defensive back. So it appears the midfield area will be the biggest strength for Woburn this season.

“We also have several newcomers at forward and in our backfield along with a new goalie, so these players will be interesting to watch this year,” said Locke.

The four newcomers who will all earn playing time at forward include senior Emma Dionne, junior Lauren Ouellette, and sophomores Giovanna Scire and Sophia Metivier.

The Tanners return two experienced middies from last year, senior captains Lily Anderson and Ashley Hayden.

Anderson is a third-year starter and a Liberty Division All-Star the last two years, and she will be relied on to anchor the midfield area and to provide leadership.

“Lily (Anderson) is just a great athlete,” said Locke. “She sees the field well, she’s a very hard worker and she’s a good leader. She’s our quarterback on the field.”

Hayden is also a third-year starter and a potential All-Star who possesses good skill and vision. The Tanners are looking for her to also provide experience and leadership to the team this season.

Anderson and Hayden will be supported at midfield by senior newcomer Tara Metters, and sophomore newcomers Laci Maguire and Patrick Newman.

“Ashley (Hayden) is also a skilled athlete and hard worker,” said Locke. “She has good stick work, she’s a presence on the field, and she has a good ability to see the whole field, which is why she’s a midfielder. She’s also a good leader.”

The Tanners have a talented returning defender in second-year starter Kirby-Rose Anderson to provide some experience to the backfield. Anderson provided depth to the backfield last year, and now will be depended upon for quality play there and good leadership.

“Kirby-Rose (Anderson) plays well as a defensive back, and she has a good presence in the backfield,” said Locke. “She will have added pressure without offensive and defensive corners (per the new rules), so it will be different for her this year. She has a strong stick, she’s very skilled, and like our other captains she’s a good leader.”

Senior newcomer Melissa Ferranti will now assume the role as the starting goalie for Woburn this season.

A compressed 10-game schedule which includes just five Liberty Division teams twice each, all earning at least six wins last year, will make it extremely challenging for the Tanners. Yet Locke is hopeful with hard work and the right attitude, her squad will benefit from this year’s new seven vs. seven play, and be more competitive against Liberty Division teams this year.

“It’s going to be interesting for us this year, since we only get to play Liberty Division teams,” said Locke. “Our kids have worked hard so far, so we will begin this season physically fit and ready to go. With seven vs. seven we will have to play smart and make the right choices, yet I feel that will definitely help us. I’m looking forward to the new season and hoping we can earn a few wins this year.”

Woburn will begin the season this Saturday when it hosts Arlington at 11 a.m.

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