Newfield field hockey enjoying new-found success
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It's not quite the talk of the town - not yet, at least - but it's certainly a persistent buzz within the walls of Newfield High School.
Hey, have you heard the field hockey team is good now?
"We've had teachers and even football coaches congratulating us, and I wouldn't have expected them to know about us," senior Amy Masciale said. "I've overheard people in the hallways saying we're good."
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Word spreads fast and the rest of Suffolk Division II is quickly learning the same: Newfield is no longer a field hockey pushover. In fact, the Wolverines (7-2) are among the best teams and are in line for a Class A playoff berth.
That's a far cry from the three-win squad they were four years ago. Newfield got its third win this season in its third game - an 8-0 victory over Copiague.
"The program has shown steady progress," coach Martin Laverty said. Since its 3-11 season, Newfield's record has improved by two wins each year and 2013 looks to be the breakthrough. "This group has a good balance of athleticism, chemistry and character."
And gumption. The Wolverines' signature win to this point - the one that legitimized this run - was a 2-1 penalty-stroke stunner over longtime powerhouse Smithtown East on Sept. 25. Brianna Reyes tied it, and Allison DiPaola and Jordyn Aiello scored in a shootout for the win.
"They were ecstatic; pure joy," Laverty said of his team's reaction to what was its biggest win in recent memory. "I'd never seen them like that."
Newfield is led by its senior captains: Melissa Fuerst, its vocal leader, who has eight points; Masciale, a forward and the leading scorer with 10 points; Kim Bartnik, a disruptive defender on the right side, and center back Dani Guttilla, who brings toughness.
One of the keys has been Laverty's new workout program, which put an emphasis on distance running and conditioning. There is also the team chemistry, Masciale said, which improved when the captains agreed to do away with a seniority hierarchy and "treat everyone equally," from the six seniors to the nine underclassmen.
"Our school hasn't been known for being great at sports," Masciale said. "I'm proud to know that we've changed something and made a mark on this program."