The Co-Ed field hockey senior night against Everett for Malden High School on Friday, October 29th was a highly emotional and heartwarming night for the members of the team, coaches, and parents as many friends and family of the group came to support their graduating seniors for what would be their second to last game in front of their home crowd.
Before the game, seniors were honored by a tunnel of their fellow underclassmen’s sticks. Respectively, each senior had their name announced and then received a flower and applause from the crowd offering their support and gratitude for the seniors' dedication to the team.
As the game got moving, it became evident that this game would be a photo finish with both Everett and Malden butting heads quickly in the contest. For the entirety of the first half, the ball did not buzz far past midfield, as there were countless scraps for the ball between Everett and Malden midfielders.
Unfortunately for the Golden Tornados, a timely goal by the Crimson tide would go on to put the Golden Tornados down by one score by the halftime break.
Despite ruthless efforts by Malden’s backfield, the Crimson Tide snuck past defenders for yet another goal, making the score 2-1. Malden’s efforts did not stop there: as the clock ticked down to the final seconds of the game, Chen broke away and shot a sizzling shot past the legs of Everetts's goalie. Unfortunately, that goal would be called back due to the shot launching from outside of the circle. The clock ran out and the game’s final was 2-1 Everett.
Even though a loss had to be written into the scorebook, that did not drain any emotion out of the feelings around senior night and what it means to these departing seniors.
Senior Captain Lyra Gold mentioned, “Field hockey has been such a big part of my high school career. It's what I dedicate literally every single hour of every single afternoon to it's just, you know, nice seeing all my hard work pay off.” Gold also recognized the team as having a “welcoming environment,” as they expressed their feelings towards the team.
This warm and sentimental feeling around the team is evidently mutual among the rest of the seniors. Chen highlighted, “To me, it's like a farewell to these lovely people that I grew up with because my freshman year, these were the first friends I ever had. Now, we're all grown. Even though we lost. We're still family.”
Despite the loss, all of the seniors did express positive feelings about their experiences over the years of being on the team. Senior captain Henry Zhao summed up his time on the team as “A blast and a roller coaster of emotions.”
All of the seniors felt content with the way they have filled their roles of leadership this season. Peyton Lightbody, a senior captain, mentioned what she believes she has brought to the team as being credited to her thinking. “I've always just been like a natural leader.” Many of the underclassmen and fellow teammates look up to seniors like Lightbody for guidance and leadership of the team.
Lightbody is not the only senior who is admired for their skills on the team; senior Wilson Jiang applauded Chen’s heart and hustle for the sport and described Chen as, “The definition of don't judge a book by its cover.” Chen has a huge presence on the field and an even bigger presence in the pride of the team's atmosphere.
When discussing the topic of the team's goals for this season and how has the team done trying to meet those goals, Head Varsity Coach Samantha Souza detailed it as, “Our goals, I think, have been to win and to score. Just to be a little more cohesive and work together more. We're struggling honestly with communication and our positioning on the field. But that second half was incredible.”
This feeling was mutual among the rest of the team, that the team had not necessarily had the season they had planned on having, however, there have been flashes of potential and real hope for the next and coming seasons.
The bittersweetness of Senior Night is that next year this team will have to perform in the absence of these seniors, which means many younger players will have to step up in big roles.
The departing seniors were not worried about how the team will show out next year, as Zhao noted, “I believe that they're all ready for it,” showing great trust in his fellow teammates.
Coach Souza expressed slight concern, but believes it is nothing her team can’t handle: “It'll be tough. It'll definitely be a rebuilding year, but we always come back. We lost 11 seniors last year.”
Gold expressed a desire for changes being made to the team to not happen, as they remarked “I really hope it stays Co-Ed because that's one of my favorite things about it. I think that it's easier for queer people to join that way.” The Co-Ed style of the team helps promote a welcoming environment for anyone who wants to join in.
With some final words of encouragement to next year’s team, Lightbody mentioned, “They're planning on splitting up the girl's and boys' teams. So it'll definitely be a huge change. But I think whatever comes our way, we're ready to take it.”
With the season coming to a close, it is quite clear that these seniors have impacted the lives of many involved in the field hockey program and have helped improve the sport at the school.