The Nantucket varsity field hockey team entered last season having to replace several key players who had been playing at the varsity level for years, but this year the Whalers are in a very different situation. They will be returning nearly every player from last year’s lineup and are eager to build on last year’s 8-8-3 record.
"I think we are just excited. We look good,” Dan Weber, who is listed as the co-head coach of the team this year alongside Elizabeth Weber, said. “I think that with the number of players we are returning, it allowed us to hit the ground running a little faster this preseason. There is not a lot of onboarding going on because pretty much everybody's been there before. So we've had a solid preseason. I'd say for the first quarter we played pretty well in our scrimmage against Barnstable and we had a good play day a couple days later over in Barnstable against some other teams. We're excited. The girls are excited. You know, I think we're all just ready to get out on the field and go.”
The Whalers have a very strong junior class, which includes Suz Peraner, Lily Remick, Maddie Lombardi, Caroline Collette, and Mayson Lower.
Lower, as well senior Aubrey Connors will lead Nantucket’s defense.
“We also have some young players too, in Sophia Yelverton and Marin Mooney, who will kind of rotate in there,” Weber said. “I think it's a good mix of experience and some good talent on the younger side as well. Mayson and Aubrey will bring them along. We've always had a really strong defense ever since Elizabeth and I have been coaching. I think that goes to Elizabeth's expertise on the defensive side of the ball playing there in college. So yeah, definitely feel really confident about our defense. If anything goes wrong, Elizabeth has the skills and the tactics to coach them up and figure it out.”
In net, Nantucket returns Shelbi Harimon. Harimon, a sophomore, replaced longtime starter Maclaine Willett last year. Weber said she is feeling much more confident entering her second year as a starting goalie at the varsity level.
“She’s gone through a season already and she's coming in knowing what her role is,” Weber said. “I think for any player, whether it be a goalie or anybody else, when you come in and you already know what your role is, it makes things a lot easier. Elizabeth and I have full confidence in Shelbi and her ability to handle the net for us. She's looked great in preseason as well. It is good to have her back there.”
Weber said they are hoping to use senior Caroline Allen more as a forward as opposed to the midfield position she played last season in an effort to replace Audrey Manning, who was a senior captain last year and scored six goals.
“She’s obviously very talented and we want to try to get her as many scoring chances as possible,” Weber said. “If that is at forward, then that’s where we will have to make the change.”
As for team goals, Weber said they haven’t necessarily talked much about them yet but will this week. He said winning the Cape & Island’s Lighthouse Division again to extend their streak to three straight years will be one. He said he also would like to see his team build off their .500 season last year and add a few more victories to the win column.
“I also think a home playoff game is always a goal because that's such an advantage for us to be able to stay here and not have to travel and have to have a team come out here. I think the team is ready to meet some pretty lofty goals, but we want to keep them achievable.”
The Whaler’s first game of the regular season will be on Thursday, September 7 at home against the Dennis-Yarmouth Dolphins at 3:45 p.m. You can view the full varsity field hockey schedule by clicking here.