Highlanders field hockey team unbeaten

| 17 Oct 2022 | 04:02

The excitement and good feeling that surrounds the West Milford High School High School field hockey program is not only real, but it’s very reasonable and well deserved this season.

The Highlanders are so far 12-0 with a record of 3-0 in NEFHL Division 1.

Helping to guide the Highlanders in 2022 are the three captains -Jacquelyn Galella (senior), Meagan Van Kirk (senior) and Avery Vacca (junior).

“The team votes on captains at the end of the previous season and then the captains coordinate and lead the team in our offseason preparation at clinics, camps and pre-season practices,’’ West Milford head coach Krista Provost said.

“These three captains not only lead the team off of the field, but they are a powerhouse on the field. Meagan Van Kirk is currently the county and conference leading goal scorer. West Milford’s record to beat for a single scoring record is 40 goals in one season and Meagan is close to breaking it. Jacquelyn Galella plays a unique position on the field, low mid, so stats are not given, however, if we did record interceptions she would be leading the team.

“Avery Vacca is our center midfielder, also known as our quarterback, due to her play making abilities and smooth pass execution. She has the team’s leading second assists for goals. She is the one player who sends in passes in our shooting circle and helps the team score goals.’’

The positive progression by the trio of captains is not surprisingly ongoing this year.

“Avery Vacca has improved with her confidence off of the field,’’ Provost said. “She was a little timid at times, but now she is confident and holds her head high. She is not afraid to command the team, delegate tasks to her teammates, or hold a player accountable for her actions. She is truly an outstanding leader and it is only her junior year. Avery is also the NJSIAA ambassador for West Milford High School. Meagan Van Kirk has transformed from her freshman year to now her senior year. It has truly been an amazing thing to witness. While she always had skill and strong offensive movement, her attitude and character has blossomed into something amazing and it has held our team together. I could not be more proud of the responsible woman she has become over these past four years.

“Similar to Meagan, Jacquelyn Galella was on the varsity team as a freshman, however, not due to her skills but her positive energy and attitude. She did not start in varsity games until this past season. But it shows that good character and positive energy will get you far not only in school and sports, but in life. In fact, Jacquelyn is currently in the candidate phase of applying to the USAFA and committed to serving our nation in the Air Force. She takes flying lessons after practices and games.’’

The coaching staff certainly sees the ways in which Galella, Vacca and Van Kirk interact with their teammates.

“All three captains bring serious and focused energy on practice days,’’ Provost said. “They come up with drill ideas to try at practices, they encourage their teammates to push themselves and they lead by example. Our team’s success starts from the top and these girls worked hard in the off season. They attended every single program offered and never stopped there. Meagan plays for a club team and does additional tournaments year round. Jacquelyn plays lacrosse and keeps active in the spring, Avery plays basketball in the winter and still committed herself to improve her field hockey skills.’’

A number of student athletes on the roster have helped the Highlanders earn great success this fall.

“Besides the three captains leading the team, I have quite a few other athletes I would like to mention and give credit for our team’s success, seniors, Destiny Looker, Caroline Lamothe, and Lexi O’Flaherty, are on our starting lineup and bring intensity and that ‘go all out’ attitude,’’ Provost said.”

They fully understand their role as seniors, knowing their time in West Milford field hockey is coming to an end.

“In addition seniors, Reilly Rose and Amanda Murphy work hard at practices and motivate our players during games to break the standard and work as a team. Juniors, Hayley Allwood and Amelia Pilatowski, run our right sideline as the forward and midfielder. Furthermore, sophomores, Laurel Space and Vivian Sirnik are leading our defensive end and Lily Kreutzer stepped up rather quickly in the preseason and have secured their starting positions from day one. Finally, I have four transition varsity-JV players that have impressed me and work very hard at practices to earn their varsity uniforms earlier on this season. Aubrey Fritz, Mattie Ralick, Ang Colucci and Shelby Durant bring not only fun personalities to the varsity team, but a hunger that is needed to keep everyone on their toes.

NOTES: The statistics listed above were from games played through October 16.