Duxbury High’s field hockey coach, Terry Vandewater, sees her predecessor Pam Manley as an intellectual. She considers herself more of an artist.
It's just one of a handful of differences between Manley, who guided Duxbury to the Division 1 South title last fall, and Vandewater, her former assistant coach.
“She's probably a bit more articulate. She's good at, ‘This is what I want, this is what I do,’ and I'm a writer,’’ Vandewater said. “I paint every word, but I can't do that as a coach. I have to come out and be like, ‘This is what we need to do.’ ’’
The first-year coach called Manley's energy the most prominent difference between the pair, while Vandewater said she has “more a quiet confidence’’ in her players.
Either way, both have earned respect from their players.
Duxbury High is coming off of a 22-2 season in which the Green Dragons captured their first sectional title since 1976 with a 2-0 win over perennial power Walpole.
With her second child due in May, Manley stepped down as head coach in January. Now at the helm of the program, Vandewater sees this as an opportunity.
“She built such a successful program, so it’s more how do I build upon it,’’ Vandewater said. “Because I’m now head coach, I can be more vocal on the things I want to work on, like incorporating even more team-building activities.’’
One reason Vandewater was a clear choice for the job was her familiarity with the existing roster. Instead of learning the names of the 70 girls trying out for a spot on the varsity roster, she instead focused on running drills.
Even the returning players notice little change on the sideline.
“I can’t see any difference, really. They have a lot of the same qualities,’’ said senior forward Hannah Murphy, a returning Globe All-Scholastic.
“They both have a lot of the same values. They’re both intense.’’
Murphy set a school record with a Patriot League-leading 26 goals in 2010 and totaled another 20, along with 10 assists, last season. Vandewater said she expects Murphy to produce again.
Still, Duxbury will be minus three of its five league all-stars from last season, including points leader Cory Connolly (17 goals, 17 assists) and goalie Sophie Fitzpatrick, who allowed just six goals in 24 games.
No starting goalie has been named, but Murphy said the two contenders, Alex Michelson and Maggie Connolly, are both fit to step into net for the Dragons.
“They know last year's goalie was unbelievable, but they’re still solid goalies,’’ Murphy said. “We’re not taking it easy on them; we're trying to get them going, and they're doing a good job.’’
Despite the graduation losses, Vandewater is not calling this season a rebuilding year.
It’s just how high school works, she said. “Luckily, with the depth we have, we have a very strong forward line,’’ Vandewater said.
“Returning, we have Hannah Murphy, twin sisters Katie and Lily Smith, Bella McCann has returned very strong, and then we have two girls, Meredith Wright and Emily Giumetti, who are both strong on offense and defense. We have a lot of flexibility, and that offers us a wide variety of combinations.’’
Following a strong season a year ago, the players acknowledge that they will be playing with a target on their backs this fall, including from division rivals like Hanover and Scituate.
“I think definitely Walpole will be after us, maybe Hingham and Hanover,’’ said junior center Ally Hammel.
“We don’t play Walpole in the regular season, but I think if we advance, they’ll definitely be after us.’’
Vandewater has her eyes on the prize and said her team is not going to settle for anything less than a sectional title, even though she admits her team cannot fly under the radar anymore.
“Both the team and the coaching staff have a tremendous desire to meet and exceed last year’s successes,’’ she said.
“I think the team wants nothing but the best for themselves and we’re always asking, how can we do better?’’
Like Manley, who played at Dedham High School and later Trinity College, Vandewater has a long history with the sport, dating back to age 5. She later advanced her career at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn., and did a three-year stint at New England College.
After a knee injury left Vandewater, a captain at the time, unable to play her senior year, she never strayed too far from the game.
Now that she’s the one blowing the whistle, she said she has a position she loves, and thanks her players for making her job that desirable. “I love coaching and I love being the head coach,’’ Vandewater said.
“The captains make all the difference in the world as well. I’ve been working with a lot of the girls the past four years, so it’s been great to watch them grow.’’
Duxbury officially opens its schedule with a Sept. 5 contest against Marshfield, but already, Vandewater is experiencing the thrill of head coaching.
“I do get ‘game stomach’ from time to time, but I think that's pretty normal,’’ she said. “If I didn’t, I think I’d be worried.’’