Pictured last season against Framingham, junior Natalie Griffin (9) will look to be a key offensive contributor once again for Walpole High varsity field hockey this fall. Photo by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
MIAA field hockey will have a new look this upcoming "Fall I" season. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the sport will be making a shift from its normal 11-on-11 format to seven-on-seven. The sport will also transform from two 35-minute halves of play to four 15-minute quarters. There will not be a postseason and teams will be playing a limited and condensed schedule.
Despite all of the changes, one of the premiere programs in the state, Walpole, heads into the 2020 season looking to remain one of the top teams in Division I.
"It's definitely an adjustment," said Walpole head coach Jen Quinn when asked about how she and her team will need to abide by the new rules. "Every year before the postseason, we always do a couple of seven-on-seven practices just to prepare for a potential sudden-death overtime game. That's only about ten minutes worth of prep, never mind going a full 60. I think the four quarters will certainly help a little bit, giving the girls a little break. But, it is definitely an adjustment. I haven't been in much contact with the team outside of Zoom meetings, but the girls have been working really hard on their own, running a lot more than they normally would to prep for the season. I think the biggest impact will come in how much we substitute. We're going to have to sub more and get more kids into the game. The kid that, in a normal season, would play around 50-60 minutes probably won't happen as much this year."
The Porkers will be led by a pair of senior co-captains this fall in Assumption field hockey-committed midfielder Molly Weiand and Dennison lacrosse-committed forward/mid Liz Hinton. Also back for the Porkers are a trio of talented juniors in Natalie Griffin, Jess Tosone and UMass lacrosse commit Caroline Whelan.
"They are all really tremendous athletes," said Quinn on her core group of returning players. "They are really good field hockey players, so it'll be nice to seem them all together on the field again this year."
The Porkers will begin their season on September 21.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.