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College-bound stars fuel Feehan girls – Boston Herald



It’s easy to marvel at Bishop Feehan’s two field hockey superstars, both fourth-year starters set to play at Div. 1 colleges next year.

Ava Meehan, committed to one of the country’s most reputable field hockey programs (University of North Carolina), is a multi-faceted scorer and playmaker whose offensive skills outweigh those of many of the other top players in the state. Kay Murphy, headed to University of New Hampshire, is also an elite playmaker whose versatility, IQ and speed has her shining in the midfield after standing out as a forward in years prior.

Shamrocks head coach Betsy D’Ambrosia raves about their work ethic. Opposing coaches rave about their impact. They’re team-first players on and off the field.

And their yoga expertise?

“Kay? Kay is not flexible,” D’Ambrosia said light-heartedly of a private hot yoga class the team took for team-bonding. “Her doing some of the positions was hysterical because she could barely touch her toes and then you have a girl next to her who has her legs folded in half. … Ava doing some of the stuff, I’m like, ‘What? What are you doing?’”

OK, so they all laugh over how the two supreme athletes aren’t exactly yogis. But what Meehan and Murphy anchor this season has the seventh-year program skyrocketing to new heights that few expected it to when the Shamrocks won just one game in 2017 and 2018.

Bishop Feehan has impressed early on by navigating a 9-1-1 start. More than half of its opponents rank well in the latest MIAA power rankings, in which the Shamrocks sit at No. 7 in Div. 1.

Outside of a competitive fight for another Catholic Central League crown, nonleague wins over Needham, Westwood and Notre Dame Academy (H) are quite meaningful. Even moreso is a 2-2 tie with a title-capable Franklin.

Meehan and Murphy play critical roles, but are just pieces to the puzzle alongside senior captain Nora Catalano, center-back Sammy Logan, sweeper Sam Blette, standout forward Jordi Higgins, junior forward Lily Marchand, junior midfielder Bella Colitti and defender Madi Godin. The team is playing as well as it ever has.

“The seniors I think are really enjoying this,” D’Ambrosia said.

“Right now because we’re playing pretty well, we obviously want to make it as far as we can until the state championship and stuff,” Murphy added. “But we’re just focusing on keeping up the wins.”

D’Ambrosia laughs when asked about the team’s potential to reach the Final Four and beyond. Not because she doesn’t think the team has what it takes – she very much does. She was just watching the Shamrocks from the sideline when her daughter played on the one-win squad before she took over as coach in 2019.

It’s new, and she’s humble.

“I was watching my daughter out there before I was coaching … no (I didn’t foresee this then). God no,” she said. “(We’re) humble. But also feeling like this could be it, that this could be the year.”

A never-ending quest for growth powers them, and that in turn has strengthened a cohesive bond.

The first thing the team did after its only hiccup of the season – an early 5-1 loss to Walpole – was come together the next day for that yoga session, laughing amongst one another. A long list of other bonding experiences they weren’t doing in the program’s early years has them fully connected, which explains drastic growth from the Walpole loss to the Franklin tie.

“I feel like right now, (Walpole) would be a different game,” Meehan said.

They don’t dismiss their mistakes, but they certainly don’t drag each other down over them. Forward thinking propelled the program to its first state tournament trip in 2021, its first league title in the same season, and a seventh-seed in the tournament last year.

And when it comes to letting their upset loss to King Philip in the second round of the tournament last year impact them – even for motivation – Meehan has an emphatic response.

“We just look forward,” Meehan said. “We don’t look in the past, we don’t look at the last game. We forget about it, we just move on and play hard to the next whistle in the next game.”

For as heart-warming as it is for D’Ambrosia to see how far the program has come, it’s equally so for Murphy and Meehan. The idea on the team when they were freshman was to never to get too far ahead of itself, but to strive for as high as it could reach.

Now that many of the team’s players are on club teams and the program can see a viable path to the Final Four, they’re somewhat relishing in the growth as they’re about to pass the torch.

“I’m just so proud of how far we’ve come,” Meehan said.

“It’s kind of nice to look back and say we never would’ve imagined freshman year playing Walpole, playing Acton-Boxboro, playing all these ranked teams – it wasn’t (really) in the cards for us,” Murphy added. “There’s been so much growth.”

Chip-ins

Lynnfield enjoyed another successful “Play 4 the Cure” game in spirit of raising money for the National Foundation for Cancer Research on Wednesday. The Pioneers double-down their efforts Saturday at Sutton in the Suzies’ Cancer Awareness Game in the name of raising ovarian cancer awareness.

Since falling 0-1-1 in the first two games, Acton-Boxboro has surged to an eight-game win streak. Its most recent feat is a 2-1 win over Andover on Friday, who it lost to by four goals in each of its previous two matchups.

Perhaps even more impressive than the 64-game win streak Watertown extended on Friday is its shutout streak. With a 10th 7-0 win this year, the Raiders now haven’t allowed a goal in meaningful action in 30 consecutive games. The last team to score on them was Andover in Watertown’s second game of 2022.

Norwood continued its big year in the Tri-Valley League with a 3-0 win over Dover-Sherborn, needing to only beat Medway now for a perfect record in its first matchup against all teams within league play.

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