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Harrison Field Hockey on the Rise Under Gonzalez

HARRISON, N.Y. -- When it came to fall sports choices for girls in Harrison, many opted for volleyball or soccer or cross country, leaving field hockey a distant memory.

The field hockey program struggled through some lean years, but that would change when Sara Gonzalez became the varsity coach in 2006. Gonzalez brought an extensive field hockey background, having been an outstanding player at Section 1 power Lakeland and collegiately at Hofstra.

Senior leader Nicole Barletta began playing in eighth grade and has witnessed the impact Gonzalez has on the program.

“She is such an amazing coach and the best I’ve ever had,” said Barletta, following practice Friday morning. “In practice, she is practical with the way she sets things up and with her time. Everything she does she treats it like a game situation so we always know what we are doing.”

As a result of Harrison’s improvement each year, girls are coming out for field hockey.

“When I started playing in eighth grade, it was a huge thing to play field hockey,” said Barletta, in her third varsity season. “We keep promoting it and getting girls involved. “I am encouraging the younger girls who I know to play field hockey when they get to middle school.”

The past two years, Harrison qualified for sectionals and won its first-round game, only to meet Lakeland in the quarterfinal round. Sectionals were considered a reach before Gonzalez came in. “The first year, just making it to sectionals was great, then we got through the first round,” Barletta said. “Right after that season ended, we knew how good we could be so we came out stronger from the beginning of the season. We know we have what it takes to make sectionals and that boosted our confidence. Now we’re looking to go further.”

Barletta said the team has had a very good first week of practice. This has resulted in the team bonding immediately, which makes Barletta excited. “We’ve been talking about field hockey, a lot, and how far we want to get and how we are going to be even better this yea,” Barletta said.

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