It’s a new look for the Clarence High School girls field hockey team. The Red Devils lost nine starters from last season and are looking to recoup a lot of offensive players that walked across the graduation stage.
So head coach Beth Brawn isn’t too sure what to expect this season. But she is quite hopeful the Red Devils will be at their best when the Section VI championship trophy is on the line.
“I tell the kids it doesn’t really matter what happens at the beginning of the season, it really only matters what happens at the end,” Brawn said after a season-opening 1-1 tie against Lancaster. “Right now, we’re just looking to get better.”
The Red Devils started the season strong as senior captain Alyssa Andres scored just three minutes into the opener against the rival Legends. But Lancaster was better in the second half and tied the game with a little less than 20 minutes in regulation. After a back-and-forth overtime and exciting but scoreless shootout, each team settled for a tie.
“We played a better first half than we did second half,” Brawn said. “The heat hurt us a little; I tried to get subs in. It’s was definitely a battle and a fun game. It was one of those games we’ll look back at when the season is over.”
Early on, things will be questionable for the Red Devils, who lost a good chunk of last year’s 8-10 team, including the likes of Clarissa Surianello, who led the team in goals with 10 and Stephanie Kling, who led the Devils in assists with seven to go along with her four goals.
But the cupboard is far from bare in Clarence, which will rely heavily on its three captains in Andres, Taylor Stefanik and standout defender Maggie Anderson. Alexi Tuzzo and Lauren Nicotra also return after netting three goals each in 2015.
But with so many new weapons, Brawn and her staff aren’t about to make any bold predictions.
“It’s hard to say, I don’t know yet. I lost 9 seniors and all 9 really played well,” she said. “I’m trying to move kids around, see who works well in what spots and who works well together … I just keep telling them, the little things can make all the difference. So as long as we can get the little things right, we’re going to have success.”
And the hard-fought tie against Lancaster was certainly a good sign for the Red Devils. That said, the goals will continue to rise as the season progresses in Clarence.
“Oh gosh, yeah, we’re definitely going to keep getting better,” Brawn said. “I already told them to tell me what we can do in practice to get better and they mentioned a few things. We’ve got OP on Friday and that’s who we’re looking at next.”