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Field Hockey Preview: Daniels looks beyond W-L record

Kaitlin Daniels is looking at the bigger picture.

The Greenport/Southold high school field hockey coach judges success by more than a win-loss record. For her, the team’s improvement and the growth of the program are what really counts.

With 24 players on the team, the Porters (3-11 last year) don’t have a junior varsity team. That puts even more emphasis on looking to the future.

“For me the end-all, be-all is not the record at the end of the season; it’s the growth of the program,” Daniels said, adding: “I love the fact that with so many young players and experienced leadership with my upperclassmen, we really get to create a program that is sustainable numbers-wise, and hopefully that will make us more competitive.”

With a young team, Greenport will rely heavily on its three captains — senior midfielder/forward Brittany Walker, senior forward Jules Atkins and sophomore defender Magdalena Rodriguez. Walker, who has been on the team longer than anyone else (five years), won the team’s Unsung Hero Award and shared the Coach’s Award last year with Atkins, a four-year varsity player. As the only returning starting defender, Rodriguez will be counted on to shore up the back line.

The only other two returning starters are junior midfielder Andrea Ochoa and sophomore Ella Mazzaferro. Mazzaferro played goalie last year, but her position this year is to be determined.

Others with varsity experience are: junior defender Irene Papamichael, senior defender Emelyn Azurda, junior defender Marley Medina, junior defender/midfielder Emma Quarty, senior defender Nereida Toribio, sophomore defender Ava Torres and junior Sophia Wachtel, an offensive player.

“I’m relying on my returners and so far they’ve been amazing leaders,” Daniels said. She continued, “They’ve really been setting a positive example for the younger girls.”

The newcomers are: Naomi Chicanowicz, Lane Dominy, Camryn Koke, Melissa Grzegorczyk, Angela Kollen, Ava Silvestro, Hannah Taggart, Gabriella Zaffino, Saylor Hughes, Hayley Skrezec, Anabelle Odell and Paige Wachtel. They’re all freshmen except for Wachtel, a junior.

“Definitely, we’re going to have to rebuild, and it’s going to be a learning experience for sure,” Walker said. “We have a lot of ninth-graders who haven’t played on the varsity level before. It will be a new experience for everyone, not just them, but it should be fun. We all get to learn from each other.”

Greenport is seeded near the bottom of Division II, so life isn’t expected to be easy, facing more experienced teams with travel-team players.

The Porters will play two of their home games on Southold’s new artificial turf field (Sept. 14 against Babylon and Oct. 5 versus Hampton Bays), but many of the players should feel right at home. Over 50 percent of the team is composed of Southold players. Last year the squad had three Southolders.

“Last year’s team was composed of a lot of seniors and their dynamic and experience,” Daniels said. “This year we have a lot of youth in our program. We have a lot of opportunities to get playing time and an opportunity to build numbers players-wise.”

That’s looking at the bigger picture.

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Photo caption: Brittany Walker (left) celebrates a goal she scored for Greenport/Southold in a game last year against Hampton Bays with teammates Sophia Wachtel (29) and Jules Atkins (21). (Credit: Bob Liepa, file)

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