By Larry Moko
Now that all seven Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic high schools are equipped with artificial turf and goal nets, the future of field hockey looks bright.
“Fantastic,” Bishop Ryan Celtics coach Sara Pavao said of the playing surfaces available at St. Mary, St. Thomas More, Cathedral, Bishop Tonnos, St. Jean de Brebeuf, Cardinal Newman and Bishop Ryan.
“The game almost cannot be played on grass.
“(Natural) fields have potholes. Sometimes the ball will just disappear.”
Pavao made the comments Wednesday after the Celtics scored a 7-1 victory over the Bishop Tonnos Titans in the first game of a tripleheader at BR. Other games saw the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves blank the Cathedral Gaels, 4-0, and the defending champion Cardinal Newman Cardinals edge the St. Mary Crusaders, 2-1.
Angelina Maioli led the Celtics offence in the win with five goals. Singles went to Aurielle Tobias and Stephanie Kirkos.
Jenna Serro replied for the Titans, who trailed 5-0 at the half.
According to Pavao, field hockey doesn’t require any previous experience and it’s becoming more popular due in part to the artificial turf. “For the past two years I’ve had to cut girls from the team which is unfortunate,” she said. “I actually keep a bigger team than most because I’m trying to develop the program for the future.
“A lot of these girls are playing the sport for the first time. We’re trying to teach them ball control and a flow of the game. I don’t think they would be able to develop skills if they weren’t playing on artificial turf.”
There was no artificial turf, however, when Pavao played her high school field hockey in Hamilton.
“All our games were on grass,” Pavao recalled. “It was definitely a challenge. I was on the very first field hockey team they had at the school. We actually did our tryouts on the flatter surface of the track instead of the grass field in order for us to get used to the ball control and movement of the ball.”
Celtics captain Samantha Preston remembers playing on grass a few times, too, during her Grade 9 year and says it was “super hard” to mount an organized attack.
“On grass, it’s bouncing all over the place,” Preston said. “There’s a lot of holes and dips. On turf, it moves fast and clean. It’s really nice.”
A veteran of local field hockey club teams, Preston also practices and takes part in tournaments for a University of Guelph development program.
“We get together twice a week,” she said. “It develops new skills and improves old ones. Field hockey is such a fun game. I’m absolutely in love with it.”
With the win over Tonnos, Bishop Ryan improved its record to 4-0. Newman and St. Thomas More are also undefeated with 3-0 marks.
“I don’t want to jinx us, but we haven’t lost yet,” Preston said. “I think we have the potential to win the championship. We all get along. Everyone is working and willing to try to learn something new.”
Bishop Ryan last won the HWCAA title in 2016
Source: Marnie Jadon