Here is my story about Mahopac’s pre-season practice with some extra notes and practice photos. — Nancy
MAHOPAC With 15 healthy and experienced seniors, Mahopac, a field hockey team that limped home from the sectional semifinals last fall, felled first by injury, then by perennial powerhouse Mamaroneck, seems positioned to flex some power itself this season.
But during practice Wednesday, Quarto, a four-year varsity member, emphasized Mahopac’s team-first approach.
“We don’t want a one-man team,” said Quarto, who plays attack. “We have to travel in packs. There’s not one go-to girl.”
Mahopac graduated four players, three being starters. But that leaves a wealth of talent. (Photo below: Goalie Nicole Amerling makes stick save on stroke from fellow senior Tara Kirby.)
Kasparian noted she and most of her fellow seniors are beginning their third season on varsity.
That experience means “we feel more connected and trust each other,” DiBello said.
Coach Dona DiMaggio points to Quarto, DiBello, Kasparian and Sarah Lilley as Mahopac’s core.
“Those four will really be a big part of our heart and soul this year,” DiMaggio said.
No one’s predicting specific win totals or possible victories but DiMaggio thinks her squad is comparable to the best teams in Section 1.
Her players seem to agree.
“I’m expecting big things,” Quarto (shown dribbling ball in the air Wednesday) said. “We have a lot of talent.”
“If it’s all clicking during a game, we can beat everyone,” Kasparian added.
“My goal is definitely to become section champs. I definitely believe in our team. Maybe we can go undefeated,” DiBello added.
Notes: DiMaggio hasn’t begun to look ahead to games, nonetheless next season. But she seems unfazed by the prospect of losing 15 players. She said this year’s JV should be very strong and, as with the varsity, most players started playing field hockey in sixth or seventh grade. … When Mahop
ac fell 5-0 to Mamaroneck (a significant score in field hockey), it did so with only a couple of players on the bench because it arrived at the game already decimated by injuries. Mahopac hung tough for a time, then the roof collapsed. “The kids were getting tired. We simply ran out of energy,” DiMaggio explained. … DiBello says her team’s experience has meant players know where other players are without having to look up. “We feel more connected. We trust each other,” she said, adding, “Everyone always plays their part.” … Quarto, who can dart around the field with dragon-fly speed, took it easy – by her standards, anyway – this summer. Instead of playing on three club field hockey club teams, she has played on only two. Of course, one is based in Ulster County and the other is Rockland Tsunami, less than local drives. Kasparian is also on Tsunami and Quarto estimated about 10 Indians have played club hockey this summer. … While some teams are doing two-a-day workouts, DiMaggio’s group went from 8 a.m.-noon. Wednesday. She explained she won’t schedule two-a-days because many of her players have to work, saving money for college. .. DiMaggio played hero to a baby garter snake Wednesday. She spotted it on the ground at Mahopac Falls Elementary, where her team was training. She initially thought it was a hair tie. When she realized it was a potentially injured snake, she picked it up and brought it to a nearby rock wall. She worried that a player may have stepped on it or that it might have been clipped the day before by a lawnmower. She didn’t seek
assistance from her players, nor did she expect it. She explained she once responded when hearing blood-curdling screams from her girls. The group was reacting to the presence of a praying mantis.