The Hopkinton High School field hockey team tasted success last fall with a trip to the state tournament and a first-round victory, and coach Ally Valencia is looking to build off that campaign this year by contending for a league title and making even more noise in the postseason.
“The girls have been really motivated by finally getting that taste for the playoffs,” Valencia said. “We were successful, but I knew my second year was when things would really start to come to fruition.”
The Hillers lost last season to the eventual state champion, further fueling the notion that the team can compete with just about anyone. Hopkinton brought back 11 seniors this fall, and most of them either started or saw significant time on the field in 2022.
Senior Camille Perlov is the team’s top scorer out of the center midfield position, and Valencia spoke highly of her co-captain’s playmaking ability.
“She is all over the field; she just never gets tired,” Valencia said. “She is the type of player who can turn games around with her ability to score and create scoring opportunities for others.”
The forward line has been boosted by seniors Kiley Locke and Reese Interrante.
“They have been getting a lot of goals and scoring opportunities,” Valencia said of the close-knit teammates.
“They played club field hockey together during the offseason, and you can tell on the field,” the coach said. “They play side by side, and they have a strong connection.”
Defensive midfielder Sanidi Waduthanthri has been a catalyst on that side of the field.
“She has such a high field hockey IQ,” Valencia said. “She knows where to be at the right time, and she is great at stopping breakaways and transitioning the ball back on offense.”
The Hillers received another lift by getting senior goalie Caroline Kane back after an injury kept her out last season. Seniors Lauren Stretchay and Ali LePage are strong presences on the defensive end in front of Kane, Valencia added.
“Everyone can trust them as defenders,” she said.
Valencia said the team has maintained a “one game at a time” approach, even as it rolled through the first 13 games of the season with only two defeats. But there are some big-picture goals at the back of everyone’s mind, including winning the Tri-Valley League.
After qualifying for the tournament a season ago, Hopkinton is hoping to earn a high seed in this year’s tournament by virtue of its place in the statewide Division 2 rankings. The team has been in the top 10 through most of the campaign, usually hovering somewhere between 6-8.
“We have some huge games coming up if we want to take the TVL,” Valencia said. “If we don’t win the league, just getting into the playoffs and going even farther is a goal. Making a deep run in the playoffs is really important to us.”