There were high expectations for this year’s varsity field hockey team, and they did not disappoint. The nine seniors on the roster were all skilled and had played together for many years, rallying this season behind captains Olivia Mikkila and Molly Cutting. Like all recent years in Auburn, there are many underclassmen ready to carry the team’s success into the future.
Grace Levansavich made the MIAA Leader Board with 23 points, and sophomore goal keeper Maura Donahue was also ranked with a GAA of 0.667. The Rockets ended the regular season 12-5-1 and were ranked #5 in the MIAA Central D1 Tournament.
In the first round, Auburn soundly defeated #12 Holy Name, but, and for the second year in a row, they lost to Algonquin in the quarter final. Division 1 has been tough for the Rockets, and many wonder why they are even there.
Back in 2015 and after a loss to Watertown in the D2 State Final for the third year in a row, I mentioned to former Athletic Director Bill Garneau that Auburn might be better playing in D1. That was the year they beat Longmeadow 1-0 on the road, but now I take back my words. This is not a negative perception of Auburn field hockey, but it is rather a reflection of a broken alignment process in the MIAA.
This became apparent to me at the start of the tournament in 2014 when #6 Auburn defeated #11 North Brookfield, 5-0. Some of the visiting parents were visibly upset with the mismatch, and I explained there were only 2 divisions for field hockey, 1 and 2. Had that game occurred last fall, North Brookfield with 80 girls would have faced Auburn with 382. Now, we’re on the other side of the mismatch. Algonquin has 774 girls, more than twice the student body to draw from.
Wachusett is also D1, and they have 1141 girls in their high school. When one gets closer to Boston, similar large numbers exist. The question is “Why are there only two divisions across the state?”
Back in 2015, there were 6 divisions for football. In 2016, that was expanded to 8 divisions, all in the name of fairness and the Super Bowls at Gillette. There are 4 divisions for basketball, 4 divisions for outdoor track, and 5 divisions for indoor track. Baseball has 4, and softball has 3 along with tennis and lacrosse.
Why is field hockey treated so differently? It is a popular sport at the high school and college levels, and it is gaining ground recreationally and at middle schools. Since field hockey is the female sport that offsets football, one would think the MIAA would pay a bit more attention. We’ll see what happens down the road.
By the way, Watertown lost in the state D2 semi-final this year.