In the preseason, legendary Haddam-Killingworth field hockey coach Patsy Kamercia was unsure where her Cougars fit in against Shoreline Conference competition.
After 12 games, the Cougars are fitting in quite well. Haddam-Killingworth (10-2, 7-1) and North Branford (11-2, 8-1) have risen to the top of the league. The Cougars and Thunderbirds split their two games with H-K winning 2-1 on Sept. 22 and the T’birds winning 3-2 on Oct. 10.
“Every team has a different chemistry and personality and this team is no exception,” said Kamercia, who is 432-172-81-6 in her 41 seasons as the Cougars’ coach. “That’s why I said I was not sure where we were going to ‘fit in’ during the preseason.
“Our strong start has to do with the great chemistry of this team. They are so supportive of each other and it has been contagious from our great captains (Meghan Cerino and Julie Hausherr) to our freshman players. It is a very special group of girls who want to work exceptionally hard and want to keep getting better. They are very coachable.”
Cerino, a senior goalie, has been one of the reasons for the Cougars’ solid start. She has eight shutouts this season and has become the all-time career leader for the Cougars with 33.
The Cougars are led on offense by strong attack players Brinley Anderson (13 goals, eight assists), Hausherr (six goals, five assists), her sister Katie Hausherr (two goals, four assists) and Hannah Theriault (five goals, four assists). Other strong defensive players include Cassie Harlow and Rachael Seneshal.
“We had really high expections going into this season,” Julie Hausherr said. “We are now moving in the right direction and living up to the standards we set. Our success has definitely given us confidence moving forward with the rest of our season, but we now know what we can accomplish as a team.
“We have the capability to not only achieve our goals but also go above and beyond what we think we can do.”
Coaching experience is always a plus for the Cougars with Kamercia at the helm.
“Things have changed with the sport in the 41 years I have been coaching,” Kamercia said. “Today there is a different teaching of skills, different emphasis on technique, different systems of play, different rules of the game and different equipment, especially for goalies.
“But what hasn’t changed is the players themselves. They have been great from the very first year and every year since then. This year is an exceptionally special year with a very special group of players.”
The Cougars have outscored opponents 32-7.
“The players believed they could have this kind of start before the regular season started.” Kamercia said. “Now that they have, they know they have to keep working harder to keep the momentum going in the postseason.”