It’s a huge benefit, of course, to have the superstars and, over her 23-plus years as Andover field hockey coach, Maureen Noone has enjoyed plenty.
While winning three state titles and more than 350 games, Noone has coached superstars like Jaclyn Torres, Jillian Hughes, Tori Roche and Emma Farnham to name just a few.
But Noone will be the first to tell you that all of her success wouldn’t be possible without a strong supporting cast of unsung heroes, many of whom do the dirty work while their more talented teammates get much of the credit.
There are several unsung heroes on this year’s unbeaten team, but the most notable might be senior tri-captain Abby Miller, who is in her third year starting on defense and invaluable in not only preventing offensive thrusts but setting up rushes up field by the Warriors.
“Abby has a great ability to read the other team’s offensive threats,” said Noone. “She often makes a clean block tackle and then generates an offensive attack. Abby is also on our defensive corner unit, playing a post position or responsible for covering the weak side of the goaltender.”
While many of Miller’s contributions have gone unnoticed, they have certainly been recognized by her teammates and coaches. She has won a team-voted Heart and Hustle Award, as well as a Coaches’ Award for her leadership, unselfish play and all-around support for the program.
Miller, who switched from forward to defense in middle school, now prefers the back row and doesn’t mind the lack of recognition.
“I like defense more and scoring goals isn’t everything,” she said. “And I do get opportunities on corners.”
This year, on offensive corners, Noone moved Miller from a support position to a hitter on the circle or an option passer.
“Abby has a strong and consistent sweep and hit, and can also make decisions under pressure,” explained Noone.
As a result, Andover has been strong on corners and Miller was able to score her first-ever goal in high school, something that many defenders in field hockey never do.
Still, it’s defense that is Miller’s calling card and she’ll undoubtedly be in the back row next year and beyond when she attends and plays for Wheaton College. But first, she and her teammates have some unfinished business in which to attend. Many felt that the Warriors could have won another Division 1 state title last year had it not been for COVID eliminating the tournament. There is no such restriction this year.
“I think we’re doing really well and we have a lot of team chemistry,” said Miller. “I think we have a chance to win a state championship.”
If that happens, current standouts like Emma Reilly and Lily Farnham will get much of the deserved credit.
Just don’t forget about all those unsung heroes, like Miller, who played big roles as well.