Varsity Field Hockey Sticks to its Strengths


Scout McKibben-Baier ’22

Nia Butler ’21 dives for the ball.

With a record of 8-1-1, Varsity Field Hockey has had a blazing start to the season. Despite unexpectedly losing the second game of the season to Deerfield, the team bounced back with a 2-0 win against Williston, and hasn’t lost a game since. 

This year, the team underwent a coaching change, as former Assistant Coach Kaitlyn Perrelle Leonard ’06 took over as Head Coach when former Head Coach Robin Chandler ’87 stepped down and assumed the role of assistant coach. Chandler’s career as head coach boasts a record of 303-22-17 and a trophy case filled to the brim with New England Championships and Founders League titles.

The highly successful program touts 12 New England Class A Championships since 2002, including a dominant run of 10 consecutive championships from 2002-2011. 

Despite this history of championships, the New England Championship has proved elusive in recent years.  Andover won back to back championships in 2015 and 2016, and last year the team was knocked out by eventual champion Greenwich Academy in the semi-finals. Ever since, the team has been waiting for another shot to bring the title back to Hotchkiss. 

The team builds its success by identifying what it does well and developing those strengths as a team.  According to Coach Leonard, the team’s philosophy is to try and force the opposing team to alter their gameplan around Hotchkiss, rather than the other way around. She said, “[We’re] not always focusing on our weaknesses, but really highlighting our strengths when we are playing against our opponents.” 

This strategy has played a large part in the team’s success this season. Co-captain Katherine Goldstuck ’19 commented, “We have been following [this specific playing style] for as long as I’ve been here, and this year we have done a really good job at executing [it].” 

With only four games to go in the regular season, the team will be playing its highest level of field hockey to date. Despite the pressures, Coach Leonard always tells her team to think of the next game as the most important game. This mentality has served them well, as they have most recently come out with statement wins against Kent on October 17th, 3-0, and against Choate 5-2, during a feature game during parents weekend on Sunday, October 20. 

On Sunday October 21, the New England Field Hockey rankings came out. Hotchkiss ranked 2nd behind Andover, finalists at last years New England championships. Although the team has yet to face Andover this year, they have fared well in games against other perennial contenders for New England, including a 3-2 win over defending champs Greenwich, and a tight game that ended with 1-1 tie against Sacred Heart. 

Along with Goldstuck, fellow Captains Abigail Hillebrecht ’19 and Sarah Hurlock ’19 have kept the team at the top of their game. The team hopes to ride the momentum, from its eight game win streak, into the playoffs. With such a strong record, the team seems poised to take another shot at the New England Championship.