Wachusett Regional senior captains Hannah Berry, Bella DelNegro, Erin McGuinness, Katy Skagerlind and Bryn Burnham have played field hockey together since they were second graders. After a decade as teammates, they will go their separate ways next year, but first they are focused on leading the Mountaineers this fall, and embracing the opportunity.
“It’s something we’ve looked forward to since we were younger, being together our senior season,” Del Negro said after practice Monday morning. “It’s not what we hoped, but we’re making the best of it. We’re just happy to be here.”
The coronavirus pandemic has altered high school field hockey, shortened the season, eliminated postseason tournaments and moved teams from their traditional leagues to regional pods, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the Mountaineers’ drive for success.
“We still want to win,” Berry said. “We still want to win our pod. Even though it’s not the districts, we still want to win.”
Wachusett (2-0) opened the year with victories over Westboro and Shrewsbury.
Berry, who tied for the team lead in points (35) last season and led Central Mass. with 28 assists, is closing in on 100 career points. The star midfielder was a T&G Super Team selection last year.
“She has really worked hard her whole field hockey career and especially in high school,” Wachusett coach Kerry Berry said of her daughter. “She came in as a freshman and has made a mark since then. She is very self-motivated and works really hard for whatever she does.”
As a sophomore, Hannah Berry verbally committed to UMass, and she will head to Amherst next fall.
“I’m so excited,” Hannah said. “It will be weird playing with different people for the first time. It’s going to be a whole new group, but I’m excited.”
Del Negro, a talented forward who registered a hat trick in last week’s 3-1 win over Shrewsbury, also will play Division 1 college field hockey, at Providence. As a junior, Del Negro, with 13 goals and 12 assists, also ranked among Wachusett’s leading scorers last season.
“She has been a scoring threat for three years,” Kerry Berry said. “She is so fast up the field. I’m so proud of her for going to PC.”
McGuinness, Wachusett’s goalie, and Skagerlind, a defender and midfielder, will be Northeast-10 Conference foes next year. McGuinness, who posted a .50 goals against average last season and opened 2020 with a shutout, is headed for Bentley. Skagerlind, one of Wachusett’s best defenders, will attend Stonehill. The Bentley and Stonehill programs are among the elite in the region.
Burnham, who missed her sophomore year due to injury, but came back as a top defender last season, is undecided on college. She would like to go to school out of the area, she said.
Like other field hockey teams, the Mountaineers are adapting to playing seven a side this season.
“I find it more entertaining because it’s a faster game and there are more shots,” McGuinness said. “It’s a lot different.”
The Mountaineers will play a 10-game schedule, and they’ve preserved much of their Mid-Wach A rivalries with games against Shrewsbury, Algonquin Regional and Leominster.
In 2019, Wachusett finished 16-3-1, and with nine seniors on this year’s roster, there were high expectations for 2020. There still are.
“Being together for so long and seeing how everyone has developed and how we’ve all grown together,” Burnham said, “we all hold each other accountable and push each other to see how far we can go.”
“It’s really special for all of us to be together,” Skagerlind added. “I’m just really happy that we got a season, even if it’s not what we expected it to be like.”
Mia Cassella, Kelsey Buckley, Liza Bradbury and Abby Gaudette are Wachusett’s other seniors.
“I’m so proud of all of them,” Kerry Berry said.
—Contact Jennifer Toland at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @JenTandG.
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