Clark’s Commitment Big Plus For Natick’s Field Hockey Team

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Natick High’s co-captains in field hockey are Maddie Clark, left, and Marie Canty
Issue Date: 
September, 2018
Article Body: 

Maddie Clark is back for her senior year in goal for Natick High’s field hockey team and it’s very likely her fourth season as a starter will be spiced with excellence, effort and energy.
The 5-foot-9 goaltender has been a prime reason why coach Ann Burnes’ squad has qualified for tourney play the last two years. Clark, who will be a scholarship player next year for Bentley University, was dynamic last year, turning in six shutouts as Natick ended its season with an 11-5-3 record.
“Maddie knows the game, has great instincts and is our leader on defense,’’ Burnes said. “She’s worked hard to develop her skills and she’s got tremendous desire and a drive to excel. She definitely makes the difficult saves and she’s improved ever year. As a co-captain, she’s a leader by example and by being vocal.’’
Bentley University coach Jessica Spencer saw Clark play in Natick’s tourney opener last year against Belmont and no doubt liked what she saw in spite of the Redhawks’ 1-0 loss in double overtime. Clark later was offered a scholarship to play for the Falcons.
“That game ranks as one of my best,’’ Clark said. “We were a huge underdog, a No. 13 seed against the fourth-seeded team. But, we played with energy and gave a great effort. In the second overtime, Belmont scored in the final minute. It was very tiring but I made lots of saves.’’
What makes Clark a premier goalie is her commitment to the sport and her penchant to take her game to a higher level. She plays club field hockey and she’s always at camps and clinics.
Clark started playing field hockey in middle school at the age of 13 and in five years her skills are top-notch and her overall strengths are many. “My technique is good and my communication with teammates is an asset,’’ Clark said. “I’ve worked to make my footwork quicker, my field awareness sharper and my field hockey IQ higher. Before I play in college, I want to keep improving my overall skills and quickness.’’
Relying on an aggressive style, Clark can often shift into a deliberate gear that allows her “to scope the field and react effectively to an offensive threat.’’
As Natick prepares to battle Needham on the road on Sept. 5, Clark has some specific goals she’s hoping to achieve. “We’ve lost the last two years in the opening round of the tourney,’’ she recalled. “I’d like to see us not only qualify, but also advance as far as possible. It’s also important that our team continue to strive to create a strong field-hockey program. As a captain, I want to create a positive environment. And I’d personally want to improve my statistics and post shutouts in half of our games.’’
A big fan of all her teammates, Clark points to Natick’s other captain — senior Marie Canty — as a strong leader. She’s also bullish on junior Brookly Lamb, who can play forward or as a midfielder. “Marie is energetic, she works hard, has speed and passes well from her forward position,’’ Clark noted. “Brooklyn is a strong shooter whose skills are so good. She works very hard.’’
Clark’s time as Natick’s goalie has coincided with her coach’s tenure and the veteran net-minder has thrived with that timetable. “Coach Burnes has made field hockey fun and she’s building a strong program,’’ Clark said. “She’s a terrific motivator who pushes everyone to give their best effort. She’s been so supportive.’’
Relying on an athletic philosophy of giving 100 percent with an eye towards winning, Clark maintains that “it’s important to bounce back when I get beat on a shot.’’ She’s demonstrated that resiliency and Clark is quick to credit field hockey with helping her to learn real-life lessons.
“The sport has made me push myself to improve and it’s taught me that there’s always time for more learning,’’ she emphasized. “It’s also helped in setting clear goals, having a purpose and developing leadership skills.’’
Calling her mother (Janessa) a role model for her support and encouragement, Clark also admires two women who’ve helped her sharpen her skills at field hockey camps. “Carolyn Cahill was Boston College’s goalie coach and Sarah Dwyer is a current player at BC,’’ Clark noted. “Both have taught me a lot and watched my development.’’
Acutely aware that her arrival at Bentley in the fall of 2019 will present some challenges, Clark, nevertheless, says she’ll be ready for the adjustment. “The transition to college field hockey will be a challenge,’’ she admitted. “The game is faster and the players will be better. It’s a higher level but I know I’ll enjoy it.’’
A National Honor Society student at Natick, Clark is undecided on her major. But, one area where there’s no indecision, however, is this year’s field-hockey campaign. Clark is convinced the Redhawks, although young, have the talent and the dedication to make 2018 Natick’s third consecutive year in the playoffs.
And, Maddie Clark is hopeful the third time will include a deep run.