The Greenport/Southold field hockey players may want to consider wearing pink uniforms for all of their games this coming season. Last year the Clippers secured their only win of the season while wearing pink tie-dye shirts in a 3-1 defeat of Port Jefferson in their next-to-last game. It was a Play for the Cure game that raised money for breast cancer awareness.
Additionally, it gave the Clippers (1-14 last year) a boost of enthusiasm heading into the 2013 season.
“It was a hard season last year,” the team’s second-year coach, Rebecca Lillis, said. “It’s always hard to lose a lot of games.”
But those losses apparently didn’t dent the team’s determination. What may help the Clippers even more than pink shirts this year is the commitment they have shown during the off-season. It was exactly that determination that Lillis attributed to that win last October. “They remained positive, dedicated, and they kept looking for that win,” she said.
Lillis said most of her players attended a winter clinic she set up for players in grades 5 and older. “When I look at my team, I just see dedicated players who love the sport,” she said.
The bulk of the team returns, led by freshman forward Madison Tabor and junior forward Sarah Tuthill, who captains the squad along with goalie Brandi Gonzalez. Tabor and Tuthill were both all-division players last year. Forward Victoria Hilton, midfielder Mairi Creedon, forward Toni Esposito (3 goals), goalie Katie Tuthill (Sarah’s sister), defender Liz Towe, defender Stephanie Clark and midfielder Suzie Bunchuck all saw substantial playing time last year.
“It is a good situation,” Lillis said. “I’d say all of them have improved.”
Kelly Dacimo, senior transfer from Connecticut, plays center midfield and is expected to be a big help. Also new to the team are midfielder Gina Seas, forward Adrianna Chandler and defender Maria Soriano.
Tabor, Esposito and Katie Tuthill have been playing for the varsity team since they were in seventh grade. “I call them my little ones,” said Lillis.
Because of low numbers, this is the second year in which the Clippers will not field a junior varsity team. The Clippers, who once drew players from Greenport, Southold, Mattituck and Shelter Island, are now supplied with players from only the first two schools named.
The Clippers, seeded 12th among the 13 teams in Suffolk County Division III, will need to pick up their offense. The three goals they scored in the win over Port Jefferson were a season-high. It marked only the second time they scored more than once in a game. They were shut out nine times.
But it should be remembered that Greenport/Southold fielded a young team last year, with three eighth-graders seeing playing time.
Lillis has been encouraged by what she has seen from the early practices. “The first day of preseason practice felt like the last day of last season,” she said. “Everything fell right in place.”
Lillis said her players learned from their losses and are excited about the approaching new season. Because of divisional realignment, the Clippers will play games against teams they had not seen a lot in recent years, such as Harborfields, Babylon and Bayport-Blue Point.
The team’s first game will be Sept. 9 against Port Jefferson.
“I think they’re all ambitious and ready to go,” Lillis said. “They’re ready. I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls. I’m just thrilled with the enthusiasm and the dedication.”
It may be even better than the pink shirts.