Danielle Duseau of Smith Academy, left, and Kesheal Henderson of Mohawk Regional battle for the ball Thursday during the Division 2 Western Mass. semi-final at Holyoke High School. Smith Academy lost 2-1 in overtime.
In the long line of Smith Academy field hockey greats, Danielle Duseau is certainly a worthy addition.
The midfielder entered this season having already established herself as one of the dominant forces in the region and took her game to another level as a junior.
“In the time that I’ve known her, I’ve seen her grown into a mature young lady,” second-year coach Dena Polverari said. “She’s continued to grow. That’s the best part. I’m fortunate to know her, and the players that surround her get to learn so much from her.”
It’s been a year of achievement for Duseau, who has already played four years on varsity. She was named to the U-17 National Team, was named to the all-Region team and is the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Field Hockey Player of the Year.
“It’s been a great year,” said Duseau, whose team was eliminated in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament semifinals by Mohawk Trail. “That’s definitely a difficult way to end it. I think we had a great team this season, but we still had a great season. We’re definitely looking forward to next year already.”
Duseau scored 22 goals this year and also had five assists as the Falcons went 11-4-4 and finished second in the North Division to Frontier Regional.
“We lost a lot of forwards (to graduation), so I looked to be more of a scorer this year,” Duseau said. “I changed my mindset a bit. In previous years in the circle, I would look more to pass it off to a teammate. This year, I was more goal-oriented and aggressive.”
One of her biggest goals of the year came in a 1-0 victory over Frontier.
“She keeps coaches guessing all the time because she reads the game so beautifully,” Frontier coach Missy Mahar said. “She does amazing things. She has such game sense. She handles the pressure very well and she’s able to execute. That’s what makes her the dominant player in our league.”
Duseau went to the Olympic Training Center Chula Vista, Calif., from Jan. 18-21 to train with her U.S. team. She expected to hear soon if she was selected to a travel squad that will tour internationally in the spring.
Duseau, who played basketball until this season, said that training camp was part of the reason she skipped the hardwood this year.
“That was a big part of it,” she said. “I also wanted to concentrate on schoolwork.”
Duseau is looking to attend a top Division I collegiate program and visited many of them in the fall.
“She never gives anything less than do her absolute best,” Polverari said. “Her drive is remarkable. There are no words in the dictionary. I’ve never seen anything like it. She can set goals and I have no doubt in my mind that she’ll reach them.”
Polverari said she’s enjoyed witnessing Duseau’s love of field hockey.
“She has such a passion for the game,” she said. “I don’t think she can help it. She’s constantly analyzing everything that’s going on. She’s got a different outlook on the game.
“She’s constantly directing traffic,” she added, “During our JV games, she’s constantly calling out where to go or where to be. She’s definitely like another coach out on the field (during varsity games). It’s in a way that it’s not stepping on toes. She’s a natural leader. It’s very positive. She’s just an unbelievable kid.”
Jim Pignatiello can be reached at email@example.com.
Emiko Barker, senior, Smith Academy
Olivia Cotton, senior, Northampton
Danielle Duseau, junior, Smith Academy
Mary Greco, senior, Northampton
Sydney Judge, senior, Frontier Regional
Taryn Marquis, junior, Frontier Regional
Liz Menard, senior, South Hadley
Rose Moscaritolo, junior, Frontier Regional
Shannon O’Leary, senior, Northampton
Adrienne Pascucci, senior, Northampton
Ashlyn Salvage, senior, Amherst
Gwen Thayer, junior, Frontier Regional
Jessie Abdow, senior, Amherst
Emily Biggs, sophomore, Northampton
Hannah Ellis, senior, Smith Academy
Shannon Hebert, sophomore, Amherst
Shannon Keefe, senior, Northampton
Merry Kocot, junior, South Hadley
Sam Krumpholz, junior, Northampton
Cassandra McClaflin, senior, South Hadley
Jordyn Roberts, freshman, Frontier
Kelly Ryan, junior, Smith Academy
Brenna Sicard, junior, Frontier
Nadia Squitero, sophomore, Amherst
Olivia Szydziak, senior, South Hadley
Dominique Wilkins, junior, South Hadley
Hannah Woodring, junior, Frontier