Bring plenty of tissues.
Tears will undoubtedly flow on Oct. 19 when the three seniors on the Greenport/Southold high school field hockey team are recognized as part of Senior Night at Greenport High School.What will make the proceedings a little tougher than usual for coach Rebecca Lillis is the possibility that the evening’s final regular-season game against Babylon could be the last that Madison Tabor, Toni Esposito and Katie Tuthill ever play for the Clippers. This season amounts to a farewell tour for each of the six-year varsity players.
“This is it for them,” Lillis said. “This is their sixth year, their final year, and they’re amazing young women and I’ve just been honored to watch them grow.”
All three are exceptional players in different positions, too. Tabor, a center forward, and Esposito, a center midfielder, both earned All-County honorable mention last year. Tuthill is an All-Division goalie.
Lillis said they are team leaders and passionate about the sport. “You can see it already in the preseason, that they’re ready to step up to the plate,” she said.
The Clippers had only 12 players on their roster last year, so it wasn’t surprising that they struggled to a 2-12 record. This year they are seeded 12th among 14 Suffolk County Division III teams, but Lillis now has the luxury of 19 players to work with. They have a total of 49 years of varsity experience.
“They’re coming in with some kind of background in field hockey and that really helps the team,” Lillis said. “It’s kind of security to have the numbers up, and not only are the numbers up, but they are up with some talent.”
Juniors Liz Clark (an All-Division player), Zoe Medina and Isabelle Torres will help shore up the defense. Two other juniors, Ale Cardi and Madison Hilton, return to the front line. Also back are: forwards Brittany Walker, Jules Atkins, defender Nereida Toribio and midfielder Emelyn Azurdia.
As a plus, the team’s six freshmen have all played in junior high school. They are forwards Emma Quarty, Ava Cosby and Irene Papamichael, midfielder Sophia Wachtel and defenders Paige Wachtel and Andrea Mena-Ochoa.
Lillis said it is hard to say where her team will fit in the division.
“We’re just going to go into the season very positive and just try our hardest and rise to the challenges that we face,” she said. “We’re just really going to go in and give it our all and hope for the best. Our talent is there. We just got to put it all together.”
As for Senior Night 2016, that is a topic to worry about for another day.
“I’m not even thinking about that yet,” Lillis said, adding, “I’m sure it will be emotional. Obviously, it will be emotional for the girls, for the family.”
Photo caption: Greenport/Southold seniors Toni Esposito, left, and Madison Tabor, right, both earned All-County honorable mention status last year. (Credit: Garret Meade)