Kaitlin Daniels is looking at the big picture.
It isn’t a win-loss record she is most concerned about heading into her first season as the Greenport/Southold high school field hockey coach. What Daniels is more interested in these days is building up the program. That starts with forming a junior varsity team, something the Porters do not presently have. Because of that, players must make the considerable leap from middle school field hockey straight to the varsity version.
“We’re asking people to step up to the varsity team immediately,” Daniels said. “It’s very hard and JV usually helps us in that transition. That’s a big jump.”
Daniels, Greenport’s assistant coach last year, succeeds Rebecca Lillis, who ran the team the past five years. The Porters (5-9 last year) have also lost three six-year varsity players in Toni Esposito, Madison Tabor and Katie Tuthill.
On the plus side, Greenport, seeded ninth in Suffolk County Division II, returns eight starters: offensive players Ale Cardi, Jules Atkins, Madison Hilton, Brittany Walker, Lena Wolf and defenders Liz Clark, Zoe Medina and Isabelle Torres. They are all seniors except for Atkins and Walker, who are juniors. Cardi, Clark, Torres and Walker are in their fourth year on the team.
Greenport has a pair of sister combinations, with field player Marley Medina and her sister, Zoe, and forward Eva Torres and her sister, Isabelle. They all offer varsity experience, as do defender Irene Papamichael, forwards Sophia Wachtel and Emma Quarty and goalie Ellen Mazzaferro, who takes over the spot left open by Tuthill’s graduation. Mazzaferro played in the field for two years, and this is her first year in goal. “She really took to it like a fish to water,” said Daniels, a former goalkeeper for Pierson/Bridgehampton and SUNY/Oswego.
“I think we have something good going this year,” Cardi said. “We have a new coach, and she’s really great, and all of us girls are so close and we’ve been working together.”
This new season offers opportunities for young players to stamp their imprint on the team, much like Esposito, Tabor and Tuthill had.
“It’s kind of a new era and a new team, but we need to step up and fill those big shoes that they left and I have every confidence that they will do that,” Daniels said. “We have a lot of open spots, so it’s who wants to work hard.”
Daniels said she enjoyed her first week of preseason practice and looks forward to the new season, which will start Sept. 5 with a division game at Port Jefferson.
“Everyone wants preseason to end and get into the games,” she said. “That’s why we play.”
That’s the big-picture view.
Photo caption: Ale Cardi is one of Greenport/Southold’s eight returning starters. (Credit: Bob Liepa)