After a banner season last year, it’s a new look for the Iroquois High School girls field hockey team. The Chiefs lost eight seniors with a combined 25 years of varsity experience from last year’s team, which reached the state semifinals.
But this year’s Iroquois team still has plenty of talent back and the expectations remain high in Elma.
“I’m very happy with the way it’s going so far,” senior co-captain Olivia D’Amato said. “We lost a lot of players from last year’s team but we have a lot of new ones that are doing well. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but I think we can make it far this season.”
Iroquois is 3-0 overall and has won 22 straight games against Section VI competition. A year ago, the Chiefs were 21-1 last year and won the Far West Regionals for the first time since 2006 and then won a Super Regional to reach the state’s final four.
“Just like every team, we want to go far in the playoffs but it’s a long season,” said senior defender Holly Stiller, who also serves as a co-captain. “I think we’re gelling pretty well but we still have a long season ahead. We can’t get too ahead of ourselves. We been playing pretty well together, newcomers are doing amazing so far so we’re really excited.”
The Chiefs beat Class AA power Clarence 2-1 in a shootout on Monday afternoon, the 22nd straight win for Iroquois over Western New York competition. It was also Iroquois’ first game of the season on turf, which has given the Chiefs some trouble in the past.
“It does and it doesn’t,” coach Pete Tonsoline said. “We play all summer long on turf but we haven’t been on it in weeks, so to play a whole game was a challenge. We knew it was going to be tough coming in here, Clarence has been playing very well.”
As per usual, Iroquois was led by a defensive unit that has been exceptional, allowing just one goal in three games. The group has been led by four-year varsity players Stiller and Lydia Aroune as well as fellow senior Taylor Quinn, on the varsity club for a third season.
Offensively, Iroquois is led by junior Riley DeGrace, who Tonsoline said “is almost impossible to stop.” in her fourth varsity season, she has two goals and seven assists in three games.
Alexis Bonafede and Samantha Gaglio have three goals apiece and D’Amato, who sees time at attack and defense, has a pair of goals. Elizabeth Fonfara and Mya Braun also have two goals apiece. Iroquois also features seven talented sophomores that led an undefeated junior varsity team a year ago.
“We’ve got a ways to go,” Tonsoline said. “We have some girls that are inexperienced in certain spots. But our defense has been phenomenal.”