With a 3-0 win this week against Franklin Pierce, the St. Anselm field hockey team improved to 15-2 and set a new program record for wins in a season. The Hawks also clinched at least a share of the NE-10 regular season title heading into Saturday’s finale against St. Thomas Aquinas. Leading the way again this year is former Oliver Ames standout Hannah Friend, who recently became the program’s all-time leading scorer.
Friend, who was the first HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year in 2013 and the 2014 Player of the Year, is second on the Hawks this season with eight goals and 23 points and has a team-high seven assists. She now has 35 goals and 25 assists in her career, both program records, and her 95 points is 21 more than the previous record holder.
“I don’t really care about stats,” Friend explained this week. She joked, “The only reason I knew I was close is one time I came into my coach’s office and she was like, ‘Not to freak you out but you’re two goals from the record.’ I was like, oh cool and I hope I get them.”
Friend added, “It’s great to see that hard work is paying off and it’s a humbling experience for sure. Everyone who is working around me has helped me get there. It’s kind of like a team accomplishment.”
The team is soaring through another strong season, recording shutouts in all 15 of its wins (another program best). Although there is still another regular season game to play, and to celebrate the seniors, Friend is focused on the one thing missing from her collegiate resume – an NE-10 tournament title.
St. Anselm has been in the mix each of the past three years. Last season, the Hawks lost 2-1 in overtime to rival Merrimack, in 2017 it was a double overtime 3-2 loss to LIU Post, and in 2016 the Hawks suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Post in the championship game.
After reaching two finals and a semifinal, Friend is ready to lift the trophy and feels like the Hawks have the potential to get there.
“We talk about this all the time with the seniors,” she said with a laugh. “We’ve been there way too many times without bringing it home. We just work towards it every day and just hope that if we get there we bring our ‘A’ game and work our butts off and bring it home. We have everything except the championship, so it would mean a lot obviously.”
The Hawks, currently ranked No. 4 in Div. II, have also been a regular in the NCAA tournament over the past three seasons (the only DII tournament appearances in program history). They earned a first round win over Stonehill in 2016 to reach the final four, but lost in the first round in each of the last two years.
“That would be the best thing ever,” Friend said about a national title. “We definitely have the potential for sure this year and we just have to pay attention to the littlest detail and make sure everyone is working hard and no one is slacking off and just grind it through. We can’t letdown.”
Field hockey is a family affair for Friend. Her mother was a standout player, who played with the Canadian national team, her brother has coached the sport, and her sister also played. Friend picked up the sport in fifth grade at the suggestion of a classmate, much to her mother’s delight. “I brought it up to my mom and she literally lost it,” Friend joked. Her mother began a middle school program and now has two club teams running in Easton.
After her stellar career at OA, Friend made the leap to the collegiate game and seemed to have no problem with the transition to the next level, starting 21 games as a freshman and scoring a team-high seven goals.
“I was definitely really nervous at first because I didn’t know what to expect,” Friend said about her freshman season. “I worked really hard over the summer. Our team is so supportive and we just have such a great environment that you feel comfortable and the more comfortable you are than the more confident you are and it lets you play to the best of your ability.”
The comfort level that she felt as a rookie is something that she is now, as a senior, trying to impart on the younger players in the program.
“The more everyone feels a part of the team, the more comfortable everyone is with each other, the better everyone is going to play,” she said. “I make sure to reach out to everyone and individually build a relationship with each girl, which I think really helps a lot. The more you can be connected with your team, the better.”
Those connections are helped by the fact that many of the players on the team are familiar faces from countless battles in the Hockomock League. Six current players on the roster are from Hock schools, including OA (junior Kendall Clifford), King Philip (freshman Emma Izydorczak), and Canton (senior Mary Nee, junior Andrea McNeil, and freshman Maggie Malloy), which continues a trend at St. Anselm in particular and the NE-10 in general.
“It’s just funny when you’re playing against them and now we obviously have to let that go because now we’re playing together,” said Friend, who said Nee is now her roommate and one of her best friends.
As the regular season winds down and the end of her field hockey career approaches, Friend is trying to keep things in perspective and enjoy her time with teammates.
“We’re always just go, go, go with practices and games and everything,” she said, “but at the end of the day I always just try to take it all in because I know that in a month, regardless of if we make it all the way, I’m not going to have this opportunity, which is sad.
“It’s definitely important to appreciate all the little moments, even the things like working out or pushing yourself, because it’s going to be sad when it’s all over.”
Editor’s Note – Hannah Friend scored two goals and assisted on a third on Saturday against St. Thomas Aquinas, as the Hawks clinched the outright regular season NE-10 title with a 6-0 win. She is the first player in program history to reach 100 points for her career.