It’s not uncommon for athletes to try other positions than their own to help their team, but on Oct. 8, Polly Carbonall took over the most crucial position on a field hockey team — the goaltender.
Carbonall is usually a sweeper on the St. Stephens & St. Agnes Upper School varsity field hockey roster, but when illness struck the starting goaltender, Blair Van den Berg, Head Coach Marsha Way put Carbonall in the net.
"At practice I had six kids out [with illness]," she said. "The flu is hitting us bad. I had to put [Carbonall] in the goal. She’s usually our sweeper, not our goalie."
The Saints lost the match 3-2 to Woodson, but Way said that Carbonall’s performance in net was enough to give the team a chance against the offensively dominant Woodson team.
"It would have been a slightly different game [with the usual goaltender]," she said. "It might have been 2-2 in regulation, but Carbonall has only been in goal for four days and she wasn’t bad at all."
The Saints biggest challenge wasn’t that the team had a new goaltender, but that Woodson’s speed and strong offensive play took the Saints by surprise in the first half.
Woodson scored two goals in the first half and recorded a goal early in the second half before the Saints scored goals courtesy of Brittani Register and Ana Gomez-Acebo.
Way said that changes made during halftime helped create the Saints’ goals.
"We knew we had to drop the ball behind their defenders," she said. "[The defenders] are the most vulnerable. Woodson’s strength was in their forwards, not their backs. We caused them to make mistakes and that’s how we got our goals."
The Saints record moves to 7-4-2 this season, but Way said that the team will take the lessons learned from facing Woodson (14-1) and apply them against other teams this season.
"Any time you play a team of this level, our kids will get better," she said.