Mutual respect, affection on field
NORTH ANDOVER — As a player, Andrea Slaven learned to respect opponents. Now as a coach, she preaches and practices the same virtue.
On Wednesday, as Slaven worked the home sideline at Martone-Mejail Field, that respect was so evident it was nearly tangible.
In its final home game of the regular season, the Merrimack College women’s field hockey team blanked Northeast-10 rival Saint Michael’s College, 4-0. The matchup was a reunion for Slaven, a former three-time All-American at St. Mike’s who is in her first season as an assistant coach with the Warriors, currently ranked ninth nationally in Division 2.
The past three years, the Bishop Fenwick graduate served as the head coach at Manchester-Essex Regional. One of her former players at M-H, freshman Nicole Bradley, netted three goals in Wednesday’s win.
At St. Michael’s, where she departed as the program’s career leader in points (117) and goals (51), she played for Carla Hesler, a Lynnfield native who is in her 15th season at the helm.
“I coached Andrea not too long ago and am not surprised at all she is having so much success as a coach,” said Hesler.
“The way she approached the game as a player and as a teammate, she always worked hard to make herself better but even harder to make her team better. There are a lot of connections between the coaches and the players between these two teams, so these are really fun games to be a part of.”
On her roster, Hesler has junior center-midfielder Hannah Beardsley, who starred for Slaven at Manchester-Essex.
“Oh yeah, it’s a neat little group where I’ve played for Andrea and Carla, and Andrea played for Carla and now one of my other high school teammates (Bradley) plays for Merrimack College so she’s with Andrea again,” said Beardsley.
Beardsley (1 goal, 5 points this season) was quick to note the similarities in the coaching styles of her former, and current mentor. “Andrea was a great coach because she was fresh out of college and made things so much fun,” she said.
“You can tell that Andrea loves and respects and took away so much from Carla, and I took so much away from Andrea and now Carla. So the transition has been somewhat smooth for me and I still talk to Andrea, she’s a great friend and a great resource.”
With the victory, Merrimack moved to 7-1 in the NE-10, while Saint Michael’s (6-9 overall) is 3-4, its best season in the conference since Slaven was a senior in 2008.
“Andrea was already a teacher on the field when she was with me, so if I didn’t already know she wanted to coach, the way she played as a teammate and leader it was a no-brainer,” said Hesler.
“I love seeing Andrea enjoying herself and I’m so proud of her success.
This was a lot of fun for the three of us to see each other and reconnect, even though it was from opposite benches.”
Freedom Fighters set final combine
In preparation for the first season of the National Spring Football League, the Boston Freedom Fighters will hold a team combine Sunday at Hormel Stadium in Medford.
Former New England Patriots running back Patrick Pass (2000-2006) will serve as the team’s head coach, assisted by former Pats linebacker Vernon Crawford as the team’s defensive coordinator.
Player registration will begin at 6:30 a.m. and continue until 8, a.m, followed by coaching staff introductions at 8:15 a.m.
The on-field activities will start at 8:30 a.m., consisting of assessments of speed, strength, and quickness; positional drills; and scrimmages.
The Freedom Fighters will play their home games at Lawrence Memorial Stadium, with the home opener scheduled for March 15.
Boston kicks off the season March 1 at Georgia. The National Spring Football League is a professional development league fielding 12 teams from coast to coast in its first season. For additional information, contact George Scarpelli at GScarpelli@somervillema.gov, Bill Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org, or David Rourke at email@example.com.
Sapna Pathak can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.