HARWICH – It was a strange season for the Monomoy girls varsity field hockey team, but the Sharks weathered the changes and their opponents in the Cape and Islands Lighthouse League to earn the championship with a commanding 11-1 victory against Sturgis West on Nov. 14.
To make the sport safer to play during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, games were restructured so that play featured 7-on-7 instead of the traditional 11 players per team on the field. Corners were also eliminated, creating something of a new landscape for teams across the Commonwealth.
But Monomoy made the best of the changes, falling only to Nauset and Sandwich during their shortened 2020 season, while handily defeating other C&I opponents to earn the top spot in the Lighthouse division not only through regular season records, but also with their determined game play in the recent league-only tournament.
On Nov. 12, the Sharks hosted the St. John Paul II Lions, coming away with a 10-1 victory in the semifinals. Caroline DiGiovanni netted four goals in the outing, the first coming near the 5:50 mark of the opening quarter to give the Sharks a 1-0 edge, scoring again minutes later for a 2-0 lead.
Though the Lions were able to slip in a goal in the second, it would be their only score throughout the game. Meanwhile, Monomoy simply dominated, with Helen DiGiovanni and Susannah Brown contributing to the Shark tally along with Bela McMahon and Ella Reeves, while Carly Dimock had a nice assist.
When the Sharks hosted West on Nov. 14, this time it was Helen DiGiovanni with the hat trick in Monomoy's 11-1 rout of the Navigators. Caroline DiGiovanni scored Monomoy's opening goals, the first at 12:23 in the first quarter, followed quickly by another at 10:41. Then came Brown, who pounced on a pass from Emily Layton, scoring with less than a minute left in the first quarter.
Helen DiGiovanni struck first in the second quarter, putting the ball in net at 14:09 in the frame before scoring again less than five minutes later. She completed the hat trick later in the game with her third goal.
Further adding to Monomoy's tally were Ella Reeves with two, including a nice one that came with just 40 seconds on the clock at the end of the third; Layton, who knocked one in at the five-minute mark of the final frame; and Dimock and Nikki Awalt, who scored during the last two minutes of game play.
Awalt, a graduating senior, said she has loved being part of Monomoy field hockey.
“It's meant a lot,” she said. “Growing up with it was really fun. I'm happy I got to experience it.”
Awalt said she'll especially miss her defensive line.
“My friends Lex and Lainey, we've been on defense since middle school. We've been a pretty good power team,” Awalt said.
Fellow senior Caitlin Bouvier shared similar sentiments.
“These people have been like the sisters I never had,” she said. “I really appreciate them all. Even though this season was very different, I'm just glad I got to play.”
Head coach Jennifer Estes was proud of her team's accomplishments.
“It's been a tough season and a tough adjustment,” she said. “Going from 11v11 to 7v7 changed the game completely, but they did a really great job. They're really resilient and have shown that on and off the field. They're a commanding force.”
Estes had high praise for a number of players.
“Caroline, Carly, and Helen have played together forever and are so intense,” Estes said. “They want each other to be successful, and that's what comes through every game. And my back line, too – Lainey, Nikki and Lex – they just do a great job together and work hard for each other.”
Estes said her team seemed to have a key difference others lacked.
“On other teams, inside our league and outside, it's more about one player being successful,” Estes said. “With my team I find that they all want each other to find that success and to achieve that victory, and they show it every game they play.”
Estes said she'll miss the energy and presence of the seniors.
“I think they'll really be missed on the field, and off the field,” she said. “The communication they have with each other, I'll miss having that.”