If a tie is like kissing your sister, DHS field hockey coach Pam Manley must have chapped lips.

If a tie is like kissing your sister, DHS field hockey coach Pam Manley must have chapped lips.

Starting her second season as the head coach of the Lady Dragons, Manley hopes to improve on last year’s record that showed just two losses, but an unacceptable seven ties during a 9-3-7 campaign that ended in the play-offs against Barnstable.{sidebar id=4}

Duxbury lost several Patriot League All-Stars to graduation including Danielle Antonellis, Erin Levesque, Colleen Connolly, and Jill Caramello, but Manley feels that her 2009 squad has the depth to make up for those losses.

“I won’t have that one player you can count on to be a big goal scorer in a close game, or a player that can make that big hit when you need to get the ball up field.” said Manley. “What we have on this team is depth which creates an even playing field and allows us to take advantages of our opponent’s weaknesses.”

Leading this year’s team will be senior tri-captains Anie Grunwald, Heidi Nichols, and Lauren Schneiderhan. Grunwald and Nichols will be counted on to lead a very young Duxbury squad that was selected from a huge pool of 82 players that showed up for tryouts, while Schneiderhan will be the leader on the bench as she continues her recovery from ACL surgery last spring.

“This is a much younger team then last year, but it’s also deeper,” said Manley. “I can bring kids off the bench and there won’t be any drop off in play.”

While Duxbury lacks a proven scorer, Manley thinks juniors Lila Haffey and Mimi Smith could be her big guns up front on the left side.

“Smith has great speed and excellent hand-eye coordination, while Haffey is very skilled and did a lot of work in the off-season to elevate her game. Tracy Clough will be our senior leader up front and has the offensive potential to take advantage of the speed junior Caitlin Jones will provide from the right wing.”{sidebar id=1}

Seniors Jackie Coakley, Diamond O’Donovan, and Kristin Nutter should see action up front, while freshman Grace Nissi has been one of the surprises in the preseason.

“Grace really has a fast stick and always seems to be in the right place at the right time,” said Manley. “Once the scrimmages started you could see she has a knack for getting her stick on the ball near the net.”

The midfield will be occupied by Nichols and sophomore Brianna Connolly, who has proven to be a very consistent player with solid drives and good passing. Nichols is the team’s midfield leader and has shown to be an aggressive player, who stays on the ball and is in peak condition for the effort it takes to play in the midfield.

Juniors Katie Griffin and Cassandra Nissi should get plenty of playing time in the midfield, while Paula Sgroi will also add some depth at the position.

Defense is a bit thin on experience, but Manley is confident that Grunwald can lead a trio of up-and-coming defenders in juniors Paige Locke and Cori Tucker, along with sophomore Keri Gould.

“Anie will be our voice on defense in the middle, and we may also move her back to sweeper at times to help out our goalie,” said Manley. “Locke is a great defender who is always around the ball and rarely lets anyone get by her, while Tucker has a huge drive and can keep it wide and out of the middle. I expect Gould to add a physical presence in the backfield where she can use her athleticism to track down opponents.”

Adding some depth to the back line will be Therese Kozmiski, Monica Devereaux, and Siobahn McCarthy, who has shown Manley to be an aggressive player with the ability to move the ball from her defensive position.

Junior Julia Hannon returns in net for Duxbury and is one of the most “goalie-minded goalies I’ve ever seen” according to Manley. “She has become more vocal over the years in directing her defense, and she is very suited for the position.”

“I really like this group of kids,” said Manley. “They have created a positive atmosphere on the team and everyone came into camp well prepared. There is no excuse for us not to make the playoffs, but we’ll just have to see if we can knock off Hanover and Hingham and take home the Patriot League title.”