Sports

Defending state champ Acton-Boxborough has sights set on another field hockey title

After going 22-1-1 last season en route to winning the Division 1 state championship, Acton-Boxboro is ready to challenge again for a state championship.

Coach Mae Shoemaker points to her team’s complementary skill sets for its success. “They all bring something different but useful to the field,” she said.

The Colonials, ranked No. 1, reeled off 13 straight wins to start the season before being held to a 0-0 draw with No. 8 Westford last Wednesday.

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Westford, which lost to A-B, 4-0, in the first meeting Sept. 23, did a good job of shutting down A-B’s forwards. The Colonials had trouble finishing plays, but still managed to put 26 shots on goal. Shoemaker saw the game as a “good learning lesson.”

Shoemaker focuses on the fundamentals, making sure the Colonials have the basics down. Many of the players also participate in club field hockey teams that play year around.

“They come to me with tremendous abilities,” she said.

In addition to club field hockey many girls play ice hockey and lacrosse.

Sisters Eleana (a senior) Leah (a junior) Cardarelli have been playing ice hockey since they were 2. The pair, both All-Scholastic players last season, say that most of their stick skills come from playing hockey as well as lacrosse.

Shoemaker calls them a coach’s dream, adding they have an innate connection, almost like twins on the field.

As talented as they are, Shoemaker said both put the team first.

“They have an ‘I don’t wanna lose’ attitude,” she said. “They are also very humble and down to earth.”

For the Cardarelli sisters, setting goals is important.

“We take every game one game at a time, we work so well as a unit and connect extremely well,” Eleana said. “[Achieving] team goals have a lot to do with working together.”

While Eleana is looking forward to playing for Providence College next fall, Leah is treasuring every game she can play with her sister before she graduates.

“Without her on the team [next fall] it will be hard, we will have to step it up, we cannot replace her,” Leah said.

The toughest part of the Colonials’ season is just about to begin. They have three nonleague games coming up — including contests against Longmeadow and 10th-ranked Beverly — teams they don’t usually play in the regular season.

“Longmeadow and Beverly are very strong teams so it is going to be a test for us,” Shoemaker said. “We learn from our mistakes and build on them and use them as experiences.”

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