With another summer-of-the-shark coming to a close, it seems fitting that the newly created Monomoy Regional athletic program, a combination of athletes from Harwich and Chatham High Schools, has chosen the Shark as its mascot.
Monomoy field hockey coach Cheryl Poore hopes this will be the autumn of the Sharks as well, as Monomoy opens ranked No. 8 in the first Globe 20. Poore, who has coached at Harwich for 41 years, said it’s going to take some time for the program to feel the full effects of the merge.
Harwich, the reigning South Shore League champs only gained five players from Chatham.
“When it’s a transition it takes a while for the kids to know they’re comfortable in a new program,” said Poore, who has more than 600 career wins. “It’s going to take a few years before we feel the impact.”
Although the program has 26 total girls for a varsity and JV squad, don’t underestimate it. Last season, Harwich lost six starters and still made it to the Division 2 South semifinals before falling to Canton, 1-0. Harwich graduated eight seniors, but Poore is confident the Roughriders-turned-Sharks will go far in the postseason.
A huge asset for the Sharks will be returning All-Scholastic Meghan Richer, who has been one of the top goal scorers in EMass the past two seasons. The skilled senior forward recorded 29 goals and 25 assists last season and has career totals of 60 goals and 53 assists.
Up north, keep an eye on Andover. After winning the Division 1 state championship two years in a row, the Golden Warriors are in the hunt for the three-peat. Coach Maureen Noone has a new plan of attack this season.
“We have a different style of play this year,” said Noone. “We had more speed last year and were more secure on defense. This year we may have games we let in some goals and games we score a lot of goals. We have a lot of versatility. We have the numbers and the kids are balanced with their skill level.”
With the departure of the Farnham twins, Anne and Kate, Noone will look to All-Scholastic Jaclyn Torres to lead the offense.
Duxbury, the Division 1 South champs, will have a bit of a change this season. Former assistant Terry Vandewater has taken over from Pam Manley. The Green Dragons will be a force in the Patriot League, returning nine varsity players, including Hannah Murphy, who netted 10 goals and 19 assists.
And finally there’s top-ranked Watertown, which has won the Division 2 state crown the past three years and 12 in the program’s history.
The Raiders graduated six starters, but to veteran coach Eileen Donahue that’s part of the challenge.
“Every year dealing with losing a lot of people is tough,” said Donahue. “When you have a new mixture, that’s always a challenge. Sometimes it take longer to get things together.”