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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 28, 2010

Lady Dutch have new coach, winning attitude prevails

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– Marathon runner Danielle Blanchard, who became head coach this fall for Dutch field hockey, inspired her team to condition hard.

“After a while, we all would be excited to run two or three miles after Dani had just come back from running like 13 or something crazy like that,” Senior Co-Captain Rachel Weston said. “We must have out conditioned every other opponent.”

Blanchard came over from Bethlehem for the 2010 season after former head coach, Kelly Vrooman, left for Burnt Hills. Guilderland finished with a 7-9 record and has a Class A sectional match at Niskayuna today.

Blanchard, who coached Bethlehem’s junior varsity team for two years, told The Enterprise that girls at the varsity level have a much better attitude.

“They’re focused and ready to go,” Blanchard said of her Guilderland players. “They have an extra push to be competitive.”

Weston, who like half the team, was coached under Vrooman, said that Blanchard is a “completely different person.” Blanchard is very into conditioning and does not yell, she said.

“Everything started out positive,” Weston said. “She’s constantly motivating us all the time. She has pushed us 10 times harder then we’ve ever been pushed, but in a positive way.”

Since half of the Dutch players were used to Vrooman, Blanchard had to mold her own team ethic, with a little help from the girls, of course. “They embraced me and shared things with me,” said Blanchard. “We made it our own.”

Weston said that Blanchard was a “subtle surprise” for Guilderland. Vrooman was the normal, but Blanchard brought a new excitement.

“We met Dani and everything seemed OK,” said Weston. “At first, I really didn’t want a new coach. I was a little shy, but it didn’t take long to warm up to her.”

Blanchard brought tough conditioning to the Lady Dutch. The team was running five miles a day during the preseason.

 “I think they showed me that they want to go as far as possible,” said Blanchard. “It takes little for these girls to get focused and ready.”

Weston, on the team since her sophomore year, told The Enterprise that 2010 has been the best season in recent memory. “Our skills are improved and we all have a great bond,” she said. “We never have problems and we look forward to working with the team.”

Needing a nudge

To end the regular season, Guilderland dropped a home game to Niskayuna, 1 to 0, in overtime on Friday. Goalie Marisa DiMarzio made some great saves and the defense held strong, but the offense lacked production.

With another game against Niskayuna today, in sectionals, the Lady Dutch need to find some offense to match its stellar defense.

“We’re hungry for goals,” Blanchard said. “I mean, this is a low scoring game by nature, but we need to be more aggressive with shots. There are a lot of people in the mix and we’re dictated by quite a few rules. It’s hard.”

Weston and sister Co-Captain Kelsey Michele have been bribing other teammates to score goals. “We’ll be like, ‘We’re coming to your house and bringing hell if you don’t score,’” Weston said. “It’s a joke, but I really hope it works.”

It’ll be Guilderland’s third time facing the Silver Warriors this season. The first outcome was also a loss, 3 to 1. “Third time is a charm, that’s what we’re going with,” said Blanchard. “Nisky brings out the best in us, so we need to finish.”

The Dutch may have two more losses than it does wins, but the players enjoy the game and have fun either way.

“We’re in the best place,” Blanchard said.

“We lose, but we don’t let down,” Weston said. “We just need a little nudge.”

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