HARWICH – Although the Monomoy field hockey team was unfamiliar with Southwick, the Sharks had reason to believe they would be tested by the Rams when the teams met Saturday afternoon in a Division 4 state tournament Round of 32 game at Monomoy Regional High School.
No. 33 Southwick advanced to the Round of the 32 following a 4-1 victory over No. 32 Sturgis West, an outcome that led the Monomoy players to expect Saturday’s tilt to be a close outcome.
In the end, though, the top-seeded Sharks were too much for the visiting Rams. Led by senior Caroline DiGiovanni’s six goals, Monomoy ran past Southwick and earned a 7-1 victory to punch its ticket to the Round of 16.
“I was surprised with the score because we compared it to how they played against Sturgis and it wasn’t that big of a difference as when we played them, so we were like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be a great game,’” DiGiovanni said. “But I’m just glad that we were able to come out this intense in our first game of the playoffs.”
Saturday was more than just a playoff game for the Sharks, however; the team also celebrated its five seniors – DiGiovanni, Isabella McMahon, Madeline Sylvester, Caroline Upson and Evelyn Sheeran – with a pregame senior day ceremony.
As pleased as first-year coach Kathryn Andreoli was to see the Sharks win, it was extra special to have her first playoff victory come after the program celebrated its seniors.
“It’s awesome. I’m so glad the kids got to do this on their senior night,” Andreoli said. “As a first-year coach, just seeing the passion and the energy, I’m so excited for this team. I told them to fight to the end — no matter what, from start to finish, we had to give everything we’ve got. And they did that. I’m really excited to keep going and see what’s next.”
DiGiovanni picked up where she left off during the regular season when she netted 33 goals. The Harwich resident scored the first six goals of the game Saturday, helping Monomoy (13-3-2) establish control over Southwick (9-8-3) early.
“She’s awesome,” Andreoli said. “Just seeing her coming out on fire and scoring all of those goals — she’s unbelievable. Her athleticism was on full display today, and her passion. She gets done what she wants to get done.”
Freshman Emily Layton also scored for the Sharks, who advanced to the Round of 16 against No. 17 South Hadley back at MRHS at 5 p.m. Wednesday (after The Chronicle's deadline). Senior Devan Fox scored the Rams’ lone goal, the only blemish for Upson and Sheeran, who split goaltending duties in the win.
DiGiovanni said that as much as she and her teammates were motivated to play well on senior night, the team has really been fueled by the belief that this year’s team can compete for a state title.
“I think senior night kind of affected it, but this year it really does seem like we have a chance of making it all the way,” she said. “And I feel like having that possibility and believing in ourselves really brought out the intensity. We want to win.”
It won’t get any easier Wednesday against a South Hadley team that upset No. 16 Tyngsborough for a 2-1 win in the Round of 32. Andreoli said she’s cautioned her players to not pay much attention to the tournament’s seedings and to instead focus on what they can control: their effort and intensity.
“I keep telling them, ‘Don’t look at the seedings, don’t look at the rankings,’” Andreoli said. “We just need to focus on ourselves. I know that sounds easier said than done, but I try to just stress the basics. If we play hard and focus on the skill work that we have, the rest will come.”
Even though the Sharks are the No. 1 seed and posted a dominant victory in their first postseason game, their rookie coach knows they can’t rest on their laurels.
“We have to constantly prove ourselves,” Andreoli said. “We’re not guaranteed anything. If we can keep doing that, I think we can make it all the way. But we have to just take it one game at a time.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal