Earlier, we looked back at the thrilling season of the 1980 WHS Field Hockey team. Here’s a look at some other successful seasons from the 1980s decade.
WILMINGTON — Back in early November, the Town Crier looked back at the 40th anniversary of the Wilmington High School Field Hockey team from 1980, as the Wildcats finished that season 15-1-1, losing in the North Sectional Final to Weston.
Inducted into the WHS Hall of Fame, the '80 team is regarded as best team in program history, in the modern era (the 1935, '36 and '37 teams are also enshrined in the WHS Hall of Fame).
Throughout the rest of the 1980s decade, the tremendous winning tradition continued for the Wildcats. Year-after-year, it seemed as if Wilmington reeled of 15 wins, a league title and made a nice run in the state tournament.
Hall of Fame Coach Jan Cassidy-Wood discussed the fond memories of four additional teams from the 80s, including '81, '84, '86 and '88.
Besides the '80 team, Cassidy-Wood and her longtime assistant Jan Urquhart, there's also six field hockey players who played at some point in the decade who are also members of the Hall of Fame and that includes: Lisa Cutone, Megan Donnelly, Paula Burns, Anne Ryan, Judy O'Connell and Gina Martinello.
Coming off that sensational 1980 season, the '81 team was hungry to keep that tradition going and perhaps take their talents to another level.
The Wildcats had an incredible regular season, finishing with a 12-0-1 record, bringing the team's regular season streak to 24-0-2 over their last 26 games. During the regular season, Cathy Schultz broke a school record with 21 goals and 3 assists.
“They wanted (to win) it all and they worked so hard,” said Cassidy-Wood. “Megan went to an Olympic Camp and she came back and geared up and ready to go. She, Paula Burns and MaryBeth Gentile were the captains and they just all worked their tails off. They ended up 12-0-1 record.”
With another unbeaten season under their belts, Wilmington thought it had easily won the Merrimack Valley Conference title, but that wasn't the case.
“The league had decided to split into two divisions that year because of Tyngsboro and Greater Lowell were coming into the league,” the coach recalled. “Chelmsford at the time had an 8-4-1 record and the athletic directors thought it would be a great idea to have these two teams, us and Chelmsford play a league playoff game. With Megan and Paula Burns being highly recruited, the press was there, college scouts from Harvard and UMass were in the stands. We ended up losing the a very close, 1-0 game. Chelmsford ended up winning the league championship with a 9-4-1 record when we had a 12-1-1 record even though we all played the same teams.
“Losing the league championship was devastating to the kids. It was an unexpected extra game before the state tournament and it came at the last minute. It had never been done before, nor since. Then I think it was the next day that we played in the state tournament and we were defeated in the first round. It was no fault of their own, because that team was outstanding.”
Wilmington was then eliminated by Triton Regional, 1-0.
The 1981 team includes: Pamela McFarland, Karen Evans, Cheryl Evans, Megan Donnelly, Cathy Schultz, Melinda Wicks, Paula Rossi, Mary Beth Gentile, Paula Burns, Jeanne Lanni, Cara Capadanno, Debbie Zambernardi, Michelle DiGiralamo, Sandra Crowley, Ann Ryan and Team Manager Annette Antinarelli.
The Wildcats finished the season with an incredible 15-3-1 record, good for a tie for second place in the Merrimack Valley Conference. Kathy Robinson was named the league’s MVP and both Kristen Butt and Janet Crowley were named league all-stars.
In the state tournament, Wilmington knocked off Lynnfield and Marlboro by the same 1-0 scores, before falling to Rockport, 1-0 in the Division 2 North Sectional Finals, held at Bishop Fenwick High School.
“I had quite the fondness for that team because I had quite a few of them as freshmen basketball players so you get to know them when they are really young,” said Cassidy-Wood. “Marcia Burns was on that team and I had her older sisters, Sheila, Paula and Brenda. Marcia hurt her knee towards the end of that season so the team did very well, despite her not playing. They had juniors like Lisa Cutone and Marion Cushing, so they were really good.”
In the win over Lynnfield, Cutone tipped home a shot taken by Aurelie Smith for the game winner. Goalie Kristen Pepe was outstanding, making all 11 saves for the shut out, including two breakaways.
In the win over Marlboro, Kristen Butt scored the game winner on an assist from Marion Cushing.
Wilmington was then defeated by Rockport, 1-0, in the sectional finals to finish 16-4-1 overall.
Members of the 1984 team includes: Lorraine Hanlon, Cheryl Ward, Karen Anderson, Renae Allaby, Aurelie Smith, Carolyn Tuxbury, Nancy Newark, Marion Cushing, Lisa Cutone, Sharon Carbone, Kristen Butt, Valerie Sullivan, Janet Crowley, Kathy Robinson, Kristin Pepe and Marsha Burns.
The '86 team finished with the same 16-4-1 record as the '84 team did. Cassidy-Wood was named the league's Coach of the Year, while Karen Anderson, Jennifer Connors and Cheryl Ward were named to the MVC All-Conference team and Jen DelNinno and Susan Killilea were named as league all-stars.
Wilmington defeated Lynnfield 2-0 in the first round of the tournament. Captain Karen Anderson and Lori Cormier scored the goals, both coming within three minutes of one another late in the second half. Lisa Rogers picked up an assist along the way.
After that came a 1-0 win over Tyngsboro, the MVC Small School Division champions behind a shut out by goalie Tina Favero, before losing to Watertown, 1-0.
“After that (Watertown) game, we lost and it was at Bishop Fenwick. The ride home it started to snow and so by the time we got back to Wilmington, the bus dropped us off at the front of the building, I remember seeing Jen and Karen, the two captains, separate after they walked off the bus. Karen walked home because she lived across near the Swain School, and she was dragging the field hockey stick with the snow sticking on the ground. It was an apropo moment for the end of the season.”
Members of the '86 team includes: Tina Favero, Karen Ouellette, Jennifer Connors, Karen Anderson, Cheryl Ward, Lisa Rogers, Amy Hamilton, Susan Killilea, Susan McFadyen, Jennifer Ryan, Jennifer DelNinno, Lori Cormier, Amy Lavina, Amy Caruso, Dorice Reitchel and Kirsten Galvin.
In 1988, the Wildcats finished 13-0-1 in the regular season, won the MVC Championship crown and drew a first round bye in the state tournament. In the quarterfinals, the 'Cats defeated Ipswich 1-0, in a game decided in three overtimes, a stroke-off with Laurie Robinson and O'Connell scoring the goals.
"It was Friday afternoon home game," recalled Cassidy. "We went to three overtimes to a stroke off. I remember the parents who had trucks and their cars, they went out to the parking lot and they brought the cars in and around behind the fence to put the headlights to shine light onto the field so the players could see the ball. It was just amazing and I had never seen anything like that before."