By Michael James LeClair
Most anyone who has followed high school sports in the Bolton, Stow and Lancaster area the past 10 years knows about the success of the Nashoba Regional field hockey program.
Much of that success is due to the dedication of the team during the offseason and one key part of that offseason routine is the Fast Break Summer Field Hockey League in Leominster.
Each year, the Wolves players sacrifice their summer plans and travel to Leominster’s Doyle Field to compete in the annual league during the months of June and July.
Once again this year, the Wolves’ hard work has paid off as the team is back in the summer league playoffs. On Monday evening, fourth-seeded Nashoba squared off with top-seeded Lunenburg in the semifinal round. The winner will meet second-seeded Leominster, who defeated Oakmont Regional in the other semifinal game on Monday.
Nashoba enjoyed a lead late in the second half before Lunenburg scored twice inside the final 90 seconds of the second half, including a goal on a penalty corner with no time left as the Blue Knights advanced to Tuesday’s championship with a 3-2 victory.
With the loss, Nashoba finishes the summer season with a 5-4-3 overall record.
Kelly Marciano is the Fast Break Summer Field Hockey director. She will be entering her 12th year as field hockey head coach at North Middlesex Regional. She spoke about the state of the league and the general purpose of the league.
“It’s a great league. There is no other league around here within an hour of us that plays full field, 11 versus 11 field hockey,” said Marciano. “There are no coaches, the girls coach themselves and it’s just a great environment. It’s a chance for the girls to introduce the younger girls to the program and build friendships and relationship between the players.”
Nashoba’s Kayla Flanagan will be entering her senior year when the new school year begins. Flanagan has been a part of the Wolves field hockey program for three years. In her opinion, the summer field hockey league at Doyle Field is extremely beneficial.
“We didn’t do this league my freshmen year because of COVID but we did it my sophomore and junior year and it’s honestly the best,” said Flanagan. “I think everyone is kind of nervous going into it and it can be a rocky start because we don’t know everyone and haven’t had time to bond but by the end of the summer you can really see the difference. It’s a great league.”
The league features eight schools from around the area including: Leominster, Oakmont Regional, Groton-Dunstable Regional, Clinton, Lunenburg, Nashoba, North Middlesex Regional and St. Bernard’s.
Teams play an 11-game schedule with games beginning the final week of June and running through the first week of August. Each squad is scheduled two games per week as long as Mother Nature cooperates.
Nashoba head field hockey coach Jaime Mariani was in attendance on Monday to watch her Wolves from the stands.
“What’s nice about this league is all the girls come together, the incoming freshmen all the way through our senior class,” said Mariani. “It’s a great way for them to get to know each other and start to play together and that’s been really important throughout the years we’ve been a part of this.”
The 2022 edition of the Wolves earned the second seed in Mass. Division 2 and reached the state championship contest where it met fourth-seeded Longmeadow. The Wolves came up just short as they fell to Longmeadow 2-1 at Westborough High School.
The first official day of this year’s fall season for all field hockey programs in Massachusetts is August 21. That will be the day Nashoba head coach Jamie Mariani and her staff will begin the journey that will be the 2023 season.