Highlanders' field hockey very focused this season

Coach: 'We the team' atmosphere prevails

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  • The Highlanders field hockey team is driven to achieve success, says their coach. PHOTO PROVIDED

  • Senior members of the Highlanders' field hockey team have been described by their coach as 'team mom' athletes who put themselves before others. photo provided

  • The frosh contingent of the Highlanders' field hockey team are contributing to the good energy this season. photo provided

By Josh Lashley

The positive energy surrounding the West Milford High School field hockey program at this time is seemingly almost tangible - and for very good reason.

After finishing their 2016 campaign with an overall record of 17-3-1, the defending Passaic County champs are geared up for what well prove to be yet another memorable season.

The Highlanders also advanced to the NJSIAA North 1 Group 2 Sectional Tournament semifinal round last fall.

Key returning student-athletes for the Highlanders this fall include Jillian Bennett (senior, midfielder, captain), Sydney Lamothe (senior, midfielder, captain), Danielle Dellapi (senior, forward, captain), Mikayla Hollenback (junior, forward), Liz Blake (junior, forward), Samantha Lyons (junior, midfielder) and Kelsie Murphy (junior, defense).

Kiawa Vitale (junior, forward), Emily Sheridan (sophomore, goalie), Zoe Starr (sophomore, midfield), Kari Malatak (sophomore, midfield) and Kayla Siemer (sophomore, defense) are promising newcomers to the varsity roster.

“I have a unique group of senior athletes - their No. 1 focus is the team as a whole and they are continuing our ‘we the team’ atmosphere in West Milford field hockey,’’ West Milford head coach Krista Provost said. “They stepped up in the offseason, trained hard, got the group following in their footsteps and are always encouraging each other.

“My senior group is a bunch of ‘team mom’ athletes who are consistently putting others before themselves and care about the program as one unit. My three captains have obviously put in their time in the off season and volunteered at various camps and clinics and show up each game day, really pushing the girls to follow their lead.’’

The Highlanders are scheduled to host Northern Highlands on Saturday, Sept. 23.

“Goal scoring and better communication off ball (need to improve this season),’’ Provost said. “We have been scoring more goals each season, but I want this season to be the year that we do not have a weakness in the shooting circle. Last year we had nine overtime games, so to not see an OT game would be great.

“Our communication has improved over the years, but I would like to see this particular group take things to a whole new level as far as off ball movement and talking is concerned. These girls have the knowledge and understand the strategy of field hockey playmaking, so I would like to see them utilize this in games.’’

West Milford competes in NEFHL Division 2 along with Demarest, Wayne Hills, Wayne Valley, Ramsey, Hackensack and Westwood.

“I see us as a definite contender,’’ Provost said. “While we did lose some key players to graduation, we have been working hard to fill the gaps and I see a strong team, with a big drive to achieve success.’’

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