The Warwick Vets field hockey team continued its tough Division I slate with a 4-0 loss to Lincoln School on Thursday, but head coach Jim Areson once again saw something he’s been noticing for the last two weeks.
Though it’s not showing on the scoreboard, the ’Canes are making headway.
“The scores don’t reflect it, but the last couple of games, since the second half of the Pilgrim game, we have played well,” Areson said. “They’re definitely playing to the best of their abilities and they’re playing hard.”
Vets lost that game to Pilgrim by a 2-0 score. After that, the team dropped three more games to fall to 0-8. But the improvement was on display every time out, and the trend continued on Thursday.
Lincoln came in with a 4-3 record, not quite the same as Barrington, Moses Brown and Bay View, Vets’ three most recent opponents. With a chance to be more competitive and take their improvements to the scoreboard, the ’Canes came out strong. Though they didn’t possess the ball much, they held tough on defense. The unit led by Tina DiSanto, Destiny Laurenco, Savannah Hersey and Kate Martins kept Lincoln off the board for the first 27 minutes of the game, nearly the entire first half. Goalie Stefanie Abbott also played well, standing tall even as Lincoln took four penalty corners.
Lincoln finally broke through when Elizabeth DiSandro scored on a breakaway just before halftime.
“We are definitely playing much better on defense, just positional-wise,” Areson said. “It took us a little bit because we have so many new kids. But they are figuring it out.”
Unfortunately, the team tends to play a lot of defense and that was again the case on Thursday. Armed with the 1-0 lead, the Lynx continued to dominate possession in the second half and added a pair of goals in the early going and another with 12 minutes remaining.
Vets finally possessed the ball in its offensive end with 10 minutes left in the game. Vets pushed a free hit to Ericka Franzen who managed to get a shot on net that was saved. On the rebound, the ’Canes were awarded a corner. Once the ball was put in play, Jenna O’Connell got a shot off but it was kicked away by the goalie and cleared.
“We’re always about two steps behind on offense,” Areson said. “We’re not the quickest team so that’s part of it. The forwards are playing better. We just struggle to get anything going.”
But Areson knows his team won’t stop pushing, despite its struggles. Last year, Vets stuck with it until the absolute end, scoring a late goal for a tie in its final game.
This year’s team seems to have the same personality.
“We are playing so much better now,” he said. “I’m very proud of them and I told them that today. They never give up. They could sulk. They could pout. They could quit. But they don’t. As a coach, that’s all you can really ask. That’s all I really want them to do.”
The hope is that the experience will ultimately pay off when Vets returns to Division II. Several freshmen are already seeing a lot of time.
“The experience of this is they’re playing against the best field hockey players in the state,” Areson said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out.”
For now, Vets will just keep on going. The team has seven games remaining, starting with Wednesday’s match-up against Wheeler.
“Three weeks left in the season,” Areson said. “We’ll keep on plugging.”