EAST GREENWICH—Aside from maybe Moses Brown, you’d be hard pressed to find a tougher opponent to play in your Division I-South opener than the East Greenwich field hockey team.
The Avengers graduated just five seniors from last season’s D-I semifinalist squad and brought back two and three-year starters throughout the field.
That was the task charged to South Kingstown – a team still finding its way in its second year in D-I – Wednesday afternoon and the Rebels struggled against the more seasoned Avs in a 9-0 loss.
Through the first 11 minutes South kept EG off the board – despite a number of scoring chances – before the Avengers finally broke through with 23:50 remaining in the first half on an Anna Gibson goal.
Once East Greenwich got going the goals continued to pour in as the Avengers tacked on four more scores over the next 10 minutes en route to an 8-0 halftime lead.
“We knew that they were a good team but we came in focused,” SK junior captain Mayli Keefe said. “We lost that focus at a point where they came in and got ahead and we had to regroup ourselves. By the end we started getting back but by that time we were already down.”
Sam Murphy got the start in net for the Rebels and played about as well as she could for a first-year goalkeeper, stopping 14 of the 22 shots she faced before Peyton O’Hara took over in the second half.
“The goalies are doing a great job,” Keefe said. “I just don’t want them to get discouraged because they have to keep working and they’re holding their own in goal.”
All things considered the Rebels played fairly well defensively but struggled to transition the ball up the field once they forced a turnover.
East Greenwich’s seasoned midfielders squelched any chances SK had on offense as the ball spent nearly the entire game on the Rebels’ side of midfield and South was held without a shot in the game.
“There’s only four or five us that were on varsity last year so no one’s really used to playing with each other and this is our first game,” SK junior captain India Aitkenhead said. “Throughout the season we’ll learn to communicate better.”
South Kingstown did not seem discouraged after the lopsided loss though, as the players are well aware that competing in Division I is going to take time, practice and hard work.
“We can take this game and let it get us down or we can take it and make us get better,” Keefe said. “We plan on [getting better].
“It’s tough losing more games than we did in the past couple years but I think it’s also really good because it challenges us.”
Given the Rebels’ early season schedule they’ll certainly need a positive attitude as next up will be another well-established D-I program in North Kingstown. SK will travel to take on NK Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re a really young team so this year it’s not really about winning,” Aitkenhead said. “It’s about building new players and getting us to be good in two or three years.”