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Ward Melville's Holland is field hockey standout

Blood, sweat, tears . . . and calamine lotion.

A day before Ward Melville made the 250-mile trek to Vestal to defend its state field hockey championship in November, Georgia Holland came down with chickenpox. Her options were to tell the coach and risk missing her final game or keep mum and tough it out.

The senior star was itching to play. The Patriots lost to Mamaroneck, 2-1, in the semifinals, but Holland scored the goal.

"She's going to push through anything," said her coach, Shannon Watson. "She never, ever complains about being hurt, sore or injured. It's like her only mission is to make the team play its best."

It's those qualities and her quality performances that make her Newsday's All-Long Island Player of the Year.

Holland was second on Long Island with 29 points and second in Suffolk with 11 assists. She led the Island in total points and assists as a junior.

Holland was named a first-team All-American this year and is one of 14 girls on the under-19 U.S. Olympic Development team. Oh, and she led Ward Melville to three straight Long Island titles.

"It was a combination of great coaching and amazing teammates," Holland said. "I think we did a great job of continuing the tradition here."

Rewind to 2008, when Holland faced another obstacle as she was about to head upstate. In a regional outbracket game, she took a stick to the hand and suffered a broken finger. An orthopedist said she could play but warned that she risked further injuring the finger to the point that it would require surgery.

Fast-forward a bit: Holland is in the celebratory dogpile on the Chittenango High School field, cast and all, having scored in the 2-0 win over Williamsville North to secure the state Class A title.

"She has a gift and she's athletic," said her mom, Maggie Agoglia-Holland, "but she has made so many sacrifices."

Holland is a Yale-bound three-sport athlete with five advanced placement classes. "She's given up a lot of social stuff to do this," her mother said. "People said she couldn't do it all and she'd have to choose, but she didn't . . . She's all heart and nothing stops her."

Former teammate Shaylyn Blaney taught her to lead when she first joined the team, Holland said, and Emilee Rahner was her model of "toughness and fight."

Guts, glory and a whole lot of game. Holland, who also is a star basketball player, ran center midfield the way she does point guard - with nifty handle on dribble drives and passes off penetration. She glides with guile across the field, seemingly having more control of the ball than a stick should allow.

"I grew up playing basketball," Holland said. "I've always been taught to get my teammates involved. Watson would tell us if there's a defender in front of you, beat her, and then look for an open player. If nobody's open and you have the shot, take it."

Now, how will Ward Melville continue without her?

"It goes beyond words how much we'll miss her," said Watson, whose coaxing of an energetic seventh-grader in her gym class into field hockey paid off. "In all honesty, there's no replacing her."

Abby Beltrani, a fellow All-American who teamed with Holland in the midfield, said: "You can't fill her spot. She's Georgia Holland."

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