By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Even after a year off due to COVID, Walpole High School girls varsity lacrosse enters 2021 with extremely high expectations. When your program wins the back-to-back Division II East sectional championships (2016, 2017), followed by back-to-back East sectional titles (2018, 2019) in your first two seasons in Division I, the bar gets raised. Pandemic or not, the Walpole girls hold the same ultimate goal; to be playing at Nickerson Field in June.
Leading Walpole in 2021 will be four senior co-captains: Assumption-committed defender Madison Field, Assumption-committed midfielder Molly Weiand, Gardner-Webb-committed attacker Bria Foley and Denison-committed defender Liz Hinton.
“This year we want to develop a good bond on and off the field,” said Field when asked about her team’s mindset heading into the new season. “A short-term goal would be to learn our strengths and weaknesses so that we can immediately work on our gaps to get ready for the season. A longer-term goal would be to get the team ready on a competitive level so that we can compete for the Bay State [Conference] championship.”
Playing a varsity sport during a pandemic brings about its obvious challenges, such as wearing masks, playing a condensed schedule and limited preparation. However, Field says that she and her teammates are adjusting accordingly and will be ready come May 7.
“We are adjusting really well to this condensed version of playing [lacrosse], because most of our team is made up of multi-sport athletes and have experienced this new style of playing sports,” said Field. “On one hand it’s been difficult, because a lot of us have never played with each other before. Also, some of the underclassmen have to adjust to this new level of lacrosse, since this is their first experience playing varsity. But about half the team plays for a club program, so we have been playing lacrosse through the pandemic. We have been able to keep our skills fresh and compete at a high level.”
Spring athletes in 2021 will be the first group allowed to play in a postseason and compete for a state championship since the pandemic began last March. A motivated Field says she and her teammates are thankful that the MIAA was able to make a postseason happen, and that her team will look to take advantage.
“I’m thankful that the MIAA has allowed this, because last year we didn’t even get a season,” said Field. “Walpole girls lacrosse has competed for the state title each of the last four years but has never won it. I know for the seniors, we are looking forward to our last opportunity to win one. We want to end this crazy and unexpected year on a high note.”
Walpole will open its season on May 7 at home against Newton North.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.