TEWKSBURY – Standing on the turf field with her clipboard in hand as she scanned over her roster, Tewksbury Memorial High School Field Hockey coach Jordan Buckland put a smile on before stating, "I'm ready. I feel like I'm ready."
She like the rest of the country, have been ready for something besides being stuck at home, being stuck on the couch and being stuck talking about COVID-19, Pandemic and everything else that's going wrong in the country.
"I'm just so glad that the girls are having a season, even if it's with some changes," she continued to say. "It's worth whatever we get. It just means now in the future playoff games, when we have to get down to 7-vs-7, we're going to be much better at it.
"The seniors that we have are all just so happy to have anything at this point. They want to do everything they can. We still are in the (Merrimack Valley Conference) and still have to face those tough teams, so maybe this is the year that we are better than Methuen or maybe other teams."
In order to be better than those other teams in the Valley, Tewksbury will have to make due with the new rule changes. Instead of ten field players and one goalie, this year it'll be six players and a goalie. There won't be any offensive corners, as well as other subtle changes. The major changes means that the six players on the field will be doing a lot more running, there should be a lot more offense created and teams will need depth because substitutions will be under rapid fire.
"There's no corners this year so we're not going to gave those as part of our practices, as we would always spend a ton of time working on those in previous years. It's definitely going to change our strategy," said Buckland. "We're not going to start our ten best players anymore — and not even our top six. We have to separate our skill level because we're going to be substituting so much more."
Throughout these first few days of practices, field hockey coaches are trying to figure out where to line up the six field players to utilize their strengths the best. Some teams are going with three forwards but for Tewksbury, it looks like a 1-3-2 formation.
"We think we're going to have one forward, three midfielders that will have to be very versatile, both on offense and defense, and then we will have two backs on defense," said Buckland. "We had a few different ones, but the other day when we were scrimmaging, we tried this one and it immediately clicked."
The last two years, the team's offense has been led by Ryan Quinn, who has since graduated. Last year's second leading scorer Alexis Raymond really emerged as an offensive threat last year and will be looked upon to take her game to a few more levels.
"I have no doubt that she will play even better this year," said Buckland. "She won't have her friends to play underneath her, which is good because I don't want her to be friendly on the field anymore. She needs to be more aggressive and assertive I think you'll see that from her this year."
The other senior returners will include Olivia Burns, Emma Fleming, Mia Gaglione, Grace Govini, Michelle Hinkle, Beri Lantum, Maegan Marshall and Brooke Woodman, along with juniors Ava Piccolo, Alianna Kennen, MacKenzie Dawson, Courtney Capachietti and Brianna Gagnon, who has moved out from the goalie spot after two years and most likely will be a midfielder.
Hinkle, Dawson and Marshall are the tri-captains.
Newcomers to the team include seniors Alyson Baker, Eyhuong Phalla and Sabtari Sabir, juniors Elizabeth Kenneally and Abby Mahoney and freshmen Katerina Schille, Avery DellaPiana and Sara Rivard.
Tewksbury opens the season on Wednesday, October 7th at Haverhill for a 4 pm game.