IN THE NEWS: MSDA Field Hockey Team Has Bright Future
December 6, 2018 Published in The Progress
CALDWELL – The Mount St. Dominic Academy field hockey team finished the season with a 4-16 record, but Alexis Ambrosino is happy with her team’s performance in her first year as head coach.
“Overall, I am very proud of the team’s performance this season,” said Ambrosino, who was a collegiate field hockey player at Montclair State University. “Although we had a losing record, it is not the record that reflects the girls’ progression and huge amount of improvement throughout the season. Who they were as young women and athletes when I first met them this past summer to who they grew into by the end of the season was such a drastic, amazing change to experience. Their communication, knowledge of the game as a unit, and learning how to work together improved a lot by the completion of the season, showing how close their bond was on and off the field.
“But what stuck out to me the most was how much all of them improved individually tremendously–in their stick skills, their receptions, their passing, different types of shots, and overall sense of the game. I could not be more proud of them and how much they grew over the course of this season.”
Ambrosino said there were several highlights this season, including the team’s victory over Mount St. Mary in the preseason.
“Even though it was only a scrimmage, it was the first time I got to see the girls’ hard work they put in all preseason pay off,” she said. “They worked together so well and were so hungry to win. We ended the game tying 0-0 and [we went to] overtime. We ended up beating them in the first five minutes with a beautiful goal.”
The team’s first regular-season victory was also a big moment.
“Another highlight was my first win as a head coach and our first win as a program against Columbia, whom we lost to in preseason,” Ambrosino said. “We had an amazing comeback and beat them for our first, 4-3. The girls were so determined to win and proved that we were not going to have the same outcome as we did against this team in preseason. We set our minds to a goal, and we accomplished it.”
Ambrosino said her favorite moment of the season was the team’s state tournament victory against Mount St. Mary.
“The first half of the game was tied 0-0 and I could tell Mount Saint Mary wanted it more,” she said. “We had a long talk at halftime, and the girls completely turned it around the second half of the game. We were tied 1-1 at this point. We went into double overtime and came out with the win with five minutes left, with Morgan Clifford ’20 scoring the game winner sent from Lia Tortoriello ’21 off of a penalty corner. The girls all ran onto the field tackling each other, jumping up and down with joy. It was truly an indescribable moment and feeling.”
While Ambrosino said all of the team’s members contributed this season, a few players stood out, including the team’s only senior, captain Fran Orsini ’19.
“Fran was nothing short of an amazing leader for the team,” she said. “She led by example in her work ethic. She came to practice and games every day and worked her absolute hardest. She was always giving 110 percent and cheering everyone else on to do the same. She played with heart and desire to succeed, and that’s what made her so successful this season. I am so excited for her future success, but she is going to be a very, very hard role to fill next season and will be deeply missed.”
Another leader was Louise Adillon ’21.
“She brought this very unique energy to the team,” Ambrosino said. “She has such an intense, deep love and passion for field hockey that shows in everything she does. She was undeniably one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met, always determined to learn something new and get better every day. She was one of the most talented players skill-wise and game sense-wise, but carried herself very humbly and always was eager to find something to work on or new to learn. She will be a key player in the next few years, on the field with her direction and leading by example and off the field bringing a positive, unique energy to the team.”
Clifford and Tortoriello also contributed.
“Morgan Clifford ’20 was also a powerhouse for us both offensively and defensively,” Ambrosino said. “She was relentless on the field, never afraid to be aggressive, and constantly challenged herself and her teammates.
“Lia Tortoriello ’21 was the heart of our team this season. This was only her second season ever playing, and the amount of growth I saw in her from the beginning of the season to the end was just remarkable. She was one of the few players that every single day came in and not only gave it her all, she played with a fire in her belly and passion in her heart that made her an undeniable presence on the field. There were some games she completely carried the team, with nothing but her willingness to never give up until the last second of the game. She cared so much about improving individually but was one of the few that put her heart into the team.”
Ambrosino added that she was also pleased with the performances of freshmen Sarajane Shearn ’22, Alina Zeleszko ’22, and Brooke Matias ’22. She also said she is looking forward to next season.
“I am extremely excited for our future and can’t wait to see how much my returning players will grow into and after next season, and excited for the newcomers,” Ambrosino said. “I’m ready for a bigger and better season next year.”