Not a single day handed final season through which sophomore ahead Shea Larkee didn’t do precisely every little thing proper to assist the Norwood area hockey group.
But as her younger, 6-9-3 teammates couldn’t generate a aim for the eighth time that yr in a 1-0 Div. 2 state match first-round loss to Canton, she couldn’t assist however marvel what she may’ve finished if she weren’t watching from the sidelines.
Larkee had simply gained group MVP as a freshman. But though she was off the crutches, her surgically-repaired proper knee wasn’t cleared but from an anterior cruciate ligament tear she suffered in gymnastics.
She was at each assembly, exercise, observe or sport, however Norwood missed its finest ahead for all the season. Nobody was extra harm by it than her, though she tried to give attention to the positives.
“Obviously it was tough, especially at the beginning,” Larkee stated. “I would be watching key plays and (thinking) I could be helping out right now in this game. But on the brighter side, watching it from the sideline was a whole different perspective. … I definitely learned from it.”
Head coach Alison Doliner knew how shut Norwood was to a a lot stronger end, as all however one of many Mustangs’ 10 losses had been by two or fewer targets. The “what-ifs” flowed aplenty about goal-scoring.
With an 8-1 begin to this season behind a 35-9 aim differential, Norwood is exhibiting why.
“We were young, we were starting seven sophomores last year,” Doliner stated. “Having so many young girls on the team last year, and then not having (Larkee), there was a lot of learning. … They really put in work this offseason to want to be able to show up this year and take their game to the next level, and I think they’ve done that.”
Larkee’s return to the sphere has made all of the distinction as she leads the group in scoring. Her imaginative and prescient and playmaking is much more spectacular, pairing with junior Morgan Naumann and Emily Spadorcia to steer a potent assault that’s solely been held to beneath two targets by Div. 1 title favourite Walpole.
Combine that with six shutouts from goalie Ava O’Neil and a protection led by Evann O’Neil and Sophie Krusz, in addition to spectacular play from an skilled midfield anchored by Lindsey Rogers, and Norwood is just rolling.
“Having (Larkee) back is a huge boost for us … the things that kind of aren’t coachable,” Doliner stated. “Once that whistle (sounds), our starting lineup is really playing like a complete unit and the girls on the bench are ready to go at any given moment.”
All that success however a 3-0 win over Braintree on Friday has come within the Tri-Valley League, which historically interprets properly into the state match. Larkee describes a 5-2 win over Hopkinton as the very best one of many yr, however a 4-0 shutout of Westwood and a 5-2 win over Medfield additionally stand out.
Norwood checks in at No. 2 within the MIAA’s first set of the Div. 2 energy rankings and leads the TVL Large with an unbeaten report. The final time the Mustangs took the league title was after they joined in 2018. The group isn’t outwardly speaking about it, however is aware of they’ve an actual shot at one thing particular if everybody simply maintain their focus.
“The energy is great, obviously it’s so fun to win,” Larkee added. “We know that we can do it and we can put up a fight with these good teams. … We’re just taking it one game at a time and the outcomes are coming.”
Power rankings reactions
The MIAA launched its first set of area hockey energy rankings on Friday, and there’s already so much to digest.
Walpole (Div. 1), Reading (Div. 2) and Watertown (Div. 3) sit comfortably on the high of their divisions, reflecting simply how dominant all three have been as far as clear frontrunners. The shock of Manchester-Essex rating the very best in Div. 4 comes solely in that two-time reigning champion Uxbridge has thrived thus far – the Hornets are loads deserving themselves.
Div. 3 is already shaking out as powerful as anticipated. New members Danvers, Falmouth and St. Mary’s of Lynn all slot within the high 10, whereas each group within the high eight made at the least the state quarterfinals final yr as returning contenders.
“Cape,” is as soon as once more a buzzword for the sphere of contenders within the decrease divisions, as Cape Cod and Cape Ann League groups rank properly. Manchester-Essex, Monomoy, Lynnfield, Nantucket, Newburyport, Sandwich, Falmouth and Dennis-Yarmouth are all high 10 in both Div. 3 or Div. 4.
Plenty of recent faces in a wide-open Div. 2. Reading (No. 1), Leominster (No. 3) and Masconomet (No. 4) made quite a lot of noise final yr, however they’re the one three groups inside the highest 10 that completed there final yr. The robust TVL and new addition Hingham stand out as groups to maintain a watch out for.
Quite a couple of shockingly low rankings for high-caliber groups, nevertheless it at all times evens out by the top of the yr. Acton-Boxboro (No. 12), Franklin (No. 14) and Chelmsford (No. 23) ought to get massive bumps in Div. 1, as ought to Foxboro (No. 15) and Hanover (No. 18) in Div. 3, and Uxbridge (No. 6) in Div. 4.