By David Willis
---- — When Andover field hockey took home its first title two seasons ago, Bridget Morris spent most of the journey as a spectator.
Now a senior, as she takes on a leadership role, Morris looks back at that those moments with great gratitude.
“It was totally different the first time around because I was doing a great deal of watching,” she said. “I watched my sister and a lot of great girls. Now that I feel like I have to step up more and take control, I know what to do because I watched them.”
Morris’ experience all over the field will be a key for the Golden Warrior field hockey team, which opens its pursuit of a third straight Division 1 state title on Monday by traveling to Methuen.
“It’s very different (being the favorite),” said Morris. “The first time we won most people weren’t expecting us to win, and last year people were expecting us to. I’ve been in both positions and I don’t think one is much better, but they are very different.”
Bridget contributed as a midfielder as a sophomore, as the Golden Warriors won their first state title in program history, and last season she was a key player first as a midfielder, then moving to defense when the tourney started.
“Bridget’s role changes game by game,” said Golden Warriors coach Maureen Noone. “If we need her at midfield, she’ll do that, and if we need her on defense she’ll play there. Her contributions often go overlooked because she isn’t scoring goals, but when we are playing in the big games, you see how good she is. She does it all.”
Having to be versatile is just fine with Morris, who loves doing a little bit of everything.
“I’ll play wherever coach Noone asks me,” she said. “Last year she moved me to defense in the tournament, and I was happy to do it. I am a defender, that’s what I have always played so it was good to go back and do that. But I’ll do either.”
Morris had a great role model on the field in her sister Meagan, a senior on the 2010 title team, who is now playing lacrosse at Sienna.
“I studied how my sister played so much,” she said. “We still talk all the time, and she comes to my scrimmages and games and talks to me about what I need to improve on. I think that helps a lot.”
Now a tri-captain, along with Jaclyn Torres and Meagan Keefe, Morris knows he has to take on plenty of responsibility, but also knows she has an excellent crew around her.
“I know I have to take more control and know what is going on around me,” she said. “I know I have to step up, but I know I can rely on the players around me. We have an experienced team, with a lot of juniors and seniors that were on the team last year and know what it takes.”
This season looks as if it will be Morris’ last in field hockey.
She is planning to follow in her sister’s footsteps by playing lacrosse in college, although she has not yet determined where.
She has been a letterman for the Golden Warriors in lacrosse since her freshman season, and first earned her starting spot as a sophomore.
“I love both but I’m going to play lacrosse,” said Morris, who also plays defense there. “In some ways they are similar sports, but there are so may differences.”
She now hopes to add a third title to her resume before the season is over, and her coach knows she will do everything in her power to make that happen.
“She is so smart and hard-working,” she said. “She sets up plays, she is our leader in defensive corners. She is very committed, she knows how to balance everything and she just doesn’t get the credit she deserves.”
2011 record: 22-0-2, repeat Division 1 state champ
Returning starters (5): Meagan Keefe, Sr., forward; Bridget Morris, Sr., midfield-back; Abigail Taylor, Sr., back; Jaclyn Torres, Sr., forward-midfield; Weezie Gross, Jr., midfield
Returning lettermen: Estelle Black, Sr., back; Morgan Manning, Sr., midfield; Melissa Newton, Sr., back; Kayla Saras, Sr., back; Julia LeBlanc, Jr., forward; Mikayla Panneton, Jr., forward-midfield; Nicole Schena, Jr., goalie; Briana Smith, Jr., forward
Promising newcomers: Andrea Pennock, Sr., goalie; Samantha Camilo, Jr., back; Katherine Geffken, Jr., midfield; Emily Gibson, Jr., back; Tamra Rutfield, Jr., back; Jessica Leone, Soph., forward
Captains: Jaclyn Torres, Bridget Morris, Meagan Keefe
Returning honorees: Jaclyn Torres, Eagle-Tribune All-Star
Returning goal-leaders: Meagan Keefe 33, Jaclyn Torres 18
Head coach: Maureen Noone (15th year, 207-39-39)
Assistants: Sheila Salois, JV; Colleen McLaughlin, Freshmen; Dan Casper, volunteer