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Tigers, Otters top hockey picks

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Posted on November 12, 2009 |
By Andy Kirkaldy



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SHELBY LAFRAMBOISE, A four-year starter for Middlebury, repeats on this year’s all-star list. Independent photo/Trent Campbell

ADDISON COUNTY — Ultimately, each of the local high school field hockey teams dealt with some disappointment this fall despite the fine individual performances honored here in the 2009 Addison Independent Field Hockey All-Star Team.

At the same time, each also had either much of which to be proud or plenty to build on for the future, or both.

First-year coach Gary Hodder’s Otter Valley squad compiled the best local record, 12-2-1, while playing a Division II schedule. The Otters also proved through the course of the regular season they were clearly the finest D-II had to offer regardless of their first-round playoff upset: They outscored the two D-II finalists, 14-1, in sweeping four regular-season games against them. Four Otters earned Independent honors.

Coach Kelley Higgins’ 6-7-3 Tigers did not meet preseason won-loss projections in the challenging D-I Metro Conference, partly, it’s safe to say, because their luck just didn’t even out in the course of the regular season. A better indication of the quality of their play is that they outshot every foe except D-I top seed Champlain Valley. Five Tigers merited spots on the Independent squad.

Mount Abraham coach Mary Stetson probably won’t remember as a banner year this 0-14-1 season, which included eight one-goal losses by her D-II team against D-I foes. But she might recall it as the season that a team with talented athletes, but just one senior, gained valuable varsity experience that laid a foundation for future success. Two skilled junior Eagles are recognized here.

Selections for the Independent team are based on observation, consultation with the coaches and statistics. Congratulations to the following:

SHELBY LAFRAMBOISE, MUHS, SENIOR FORWARD. Notes: Tremendously skilled, fiercely competitive four-year varsity athlete whose five goals and one assist don’t begin to describe her contributions ... Played a vital role in helping the Tigers dominate possession and advancing the ball up the field by getting open for passes, carrying and moving the ball, and pressuring opponents ... Excelled moving with or without the ball, and exceptionally strong and clever with the ball.

Higgins’ Quotes: “She’s always had strong stick skills, but this year she became a more versatile player by using her teammates, by passing sooner ... I don’t know any other player who does what she does with a stick and a ball ... She took that competitive spirit and used it to motivate her teammates in a positive way.”

KRISTY PINKHAM, OV, JUNIOR CENTER MIDFIELDER. Notes: Tough, tireless, talented two-way player who not only defended and distributed well for the Otters, but also contributed 11 goals and a local high of 15 assists ... Took most of the Otters’ free hits ... Typically dominated the center of the field with speed and skill, and also ranged from sideline to sideline to disrupt opponents and set up plays.

Hodder’s Quotes: “She is the engine room of the team ... She gets all over the field ... She has lots of energy. She’s very aggressive ... She’s a good leader for the team, a good team player ... She’s very talented. A lot of what you see when she plays comes from natural talent ... She was the best all-around player I saw in our games.”

KAITLYN KIRKALDY, MUHS, SENIOR DEFENDER. Notes: Smart, highly skilled and fast three-year varsity player who anchored a defense that surrendered just 15 goals in 16 games ... Scored once in late-season road win and assisted the first goal in the Tigers’ 2-0 playoff victory ... Adept passer out of the back ... Showed good communication and leadership skills on defense and as a tri-captain.

Higgins’ Quotes: “I love Kaitlyn’s work ethic. It’s incredible ... It motivated her teammates. It motivated me. That would be true on the field and off the field ... She was a steady voice on the field for the defense ... She wanted to play in both circles, to get into the attack, too.”

TIFFANY AUDET, MUHS, JUNIOR MIDFIELDER. Notes: Relentless, quick center middie whose ball-winning ability helped the Tigers dominate possession in games ... Consistently prevailed in one-on-one battles and stepped up to break up clearing attempts ... Displayed solid skills and was exceptionally strong on the ball, offensively and defensively.

Higgins’ Quotes: “When she was playing her best, the team upped their play around her ... I see her very much as a catalyst with good vision ... When she went back to win the ball, or got to the ball first, it lit a fire under everyone else.”

EMILY WALDRIP, OV, SENIOR FORWARD. Notes: Smart forward, with plenty of speed, excellent stick skills and a good sense of the game ... Scored 16 goals and set up eight ... Captain and key leader on a team that developed strong unity.

Hodder’s Quotes: “She’s probably our most skilled player ... She’s a very fast, a very direct player ... The way we played the objective was to get her in the circle as much as possible with the ball ... She’s a very clever player and creates a lot of chances.”

SHAYNA MCDONOUGH, OV, SENIOR FORWARD. Notes: Savvy player who provided a perfect counterpoint to Waldrip up front by seemingly always being in the right place at the right time ... Scored 17 goals, including an overtime game-winner vs. Mount Anthony, and racked up 10 assists ... Accurate shooter.

Hodder’s Quotes: “Shayna is a natural goal-scorer ... She very, very good in scrums around the net ... She instinctively stood in the right place ... You give her one-quarter of a chance, and the ball is in the net ... She’s very good at hitting the sideboard.”

CHRISSY RITTER, MUHS, SOPHOMORE FORWARD/MIDFIELDER. Notes: Second-year varsity player who led the Tigers in scoring for the second time with six goals, adding three assists ... Fast, versatile athlete with rapidly improving stick skills and field vision ... Shifted seamlessly between left wing and left middie.

Higgins’ Quotes: “She had a knack for scoring, and a hunger ... She has good hand-eye coordination, and speed ... She had such a sense of fun, but would always take to heart what you told her and worked to get better ... She started picking up more skills, and part of that was taking on her opponents one-on-one.”

COURTNEY JIPNER, MOUNT ABE, JUNIOR FORWARD. Notes: Aggressive, determined forward with fine skills and a nose for the ball and the goal ... Scored four of Mount Abe’s eight goals and set up three others ... Had the versatility to play four games at central midfield ... Quick, and strong on the ball both ways.

Stetson’s Quotes: “Once things settled out, we put her up front to generate attack ... Courtney is the Energizer bunny who really makes things happen for us ... She has that natural ability to keep going ... She pressures the ball real well ... She has the best stick skills on our team ... She can maneuver in tight spaces and read the field real well.”

MARINA VITAGLIANO, OV, JUNIOR DEFENDER. Notes: Heady, fast defender who provided a steady presence at center back for OV ... Helped anchor a defense that allowed 14 goals in 15 games ... Possesses good stick and passing skills and defends well individually and in the team concept.

Hodder’s Quotes: “I always have my strongest players down the middle of the field, and that’s why I put her in there ... She’s very quick. She’s got good skills and positional sense ... She knows what her job is, and she does it ... She can bring the ball out, and she passes it well ... She reads the game well.”

ALIZA KAMMAN, MOUNT ABE, JUNIOR MIDFIELDER/DEFENDER. Notes: Solid tackler and passer who stabilized Mount Abe’s defense at center back after an early-season move there from midfield ... Grew steadily more adept at stepping up and breaking up plays at midfield as well as defending well in the circle and final third of the field.

Stetson’s Quotes: “Aliza does a really good job back there. She’s solid ... She was the reason our defense gelled in the end, no question ... She was quick to clear the ball out of the circle ... She had a really strong hit, which helped us numerous times.”

KAYLA WHITTEMORE, MUHS, SENIOR GOALIE. Notes: Played like a veteran in the cage after not touching a field hockey stick since middle school ... Reacted quickly and confidently to shots, and quickly learned when to come out and challenge shooters or to kick the ball out of trouble ... 4-4-3 record as a starter with five shutouts and an 86.7 percent save rate overall, 90 percent once she played fulltime.

Higgins’ Quotes: “She is a tremendous athlete in every sense of the word. She just picked up the position with natural gut instinct ... It helped she had quick reflexes ... She had an immediate impact on the team. They had such confidence in her ... She was a joy to coach.”

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