Harborfields Field Hockey Finishes Strong

 The Harborfields Field Hockey team after their game with USA Women’s National soccer team player Allie Long.

The Harborfields Field Hockey team after their game with USA Women’s National soccer team player Allie Long.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Harborfields varsity field hockey team has just wrapped up their season and are looking back on it with pride while looking forward to next year’s season with excitement.

The girl’s season finished on Tuesday, Oct. 30 when they played against Miller Place at the Suffolk County Championship game and lost in double overtime. Coach Lauren Desiderio is proud of how her girls played at the game and during the season, closing with a record of 11-5.

“We’re really proud of how well the girls played this year, they really came together as a team and played as a unit throughout the season,” Desiderio said. “I think that really is what led to our success.”

In a game like field hockey, where it takes a team effort to win, it was crucial the girls work together. Desiderio and her staff emphasized team bonding this year, the girls even have a pool party at her house over the summer.

“Stressing to them that being friends on and off the field will help them, especially in tough games like today,” Desiderio said. “Being there for their teammate is the best way to be a teammate, to help their teammate out, to think about what they can do to put their teammate in the best position to do well on the field and their teammates will do the same for them.”

In her quest for unity, Desiderio found having balance among her players was important and didn’t put any player above another. She did highlight the leadership demonstrated by her captains as a contributor for their success. Senior and defense left back, Samantha Huntington, was a returning All-State player this season that led the team with senior forward midfielder, Jenna Bergin and junior center-mid, Caroline Dlugisnky.

The girls were able to lead by example, showing their dedication to the game while putting in hard work during practice. The team typically practices on grass, but played about half their games on turf fields. This required the players to put in extra work the day before turf games, by spending time practicing their plays on a turf field. It may not seem like a big difference, but according to Desiderio, the field changes the speed and what they can do during a game.

“The girls have really learned to adapt to the surface, while sticking to the game plan and our style of play and persevere each game,” Desiderio said.

Desiderio feels her girls know how to handle their wins and loses with class.

“One of the biggest compliments my team got this year is that we are really nice team, we were respectful and had good sportsmanship,” Desiderio said. “As a coach that really meant a lot to hear that from officials and coaches throughout the league.”

After coaching the team as an assistant for 2-3 years, Desiderio stepped up as the head coach in 2010. Before that, she coached three seasons at Fairfield University, where she played Division 1 field hockey. Now, Desiderio teaches social studies at Huntington High School but finds her allegiance to two schools has not been an issue.

“It’s kinda nice to coach in a different district and meet new kids,” Desiderio said. “I have a great relationship with them and even the girls on the field hockey team in Huntington, so that’s nice too.”

This year the team will be graduating a large amount of seniors, like goalie Cate Driver, who had a “fantastic” senior season. But Desiderio is not worried for next year, with great returning players coming back and many fierce competitors moving up from the junior varsity team.

Looking to the future, Desiderio wants her returning players to participate in winter field hockey club teams, to keep the girls playing together. Next year, she hopes the team will make it to the County Championship again and win this time. .

 “We stressed to them at the end of the game, that they really should be proud of how far they’ve come and what they’ve accomplished this season. They’ve done something that no other program that I’ve coached has accomplished,” Desiderio said. “They have to remember what it felt like today and take that as a motivating factor for next season.”