Tuesday, May 21, 2013
There were so many adjustments for Hannah Thornberg as a freshman at Endicott College. She struggled for a while with handling a college courseload and playing field hockey. On the field, she wasn't a full-time starter, and she was playing a new position.
STEPPING UP: Messalonskee graduate Hannah Thornberg is a sophomore at Endicott College and leads the team with five goals and two assists.
• Sport: Field hockey
• School: Endicott
• Position: Forward
• Hometown: Oakland
• Statistics: 5 goals, 2 assists in 8 games
One year later, Thornberg is starting at forward, just as she did at Messalonskee High School. She now majors in psychology after taking a couple psychology classes as a freshman. Endicott is 6-2, and Thornberg leads the Gulls with 12 points on five goals and two assists.
"She's really improved just over this past year, and has stepped into a stronger role here," said Endicott coach Jodi Cipolla, citing Thornberg's improved stickwork, speed and game sense.
As a freshman at the Beverly, Mass. school, Thornberg finished with five goals and four assists. She started 11 games, and split time between midfielder and forward.
"In college, you never really know where you're going to play, so I was expecting to change it up a little bit," Thornberg said.
Thornberg said she also noticed some other key differences involved with playing at the college level.
"I feel like everyone is on the team for a reason, and we all come to play and practice really hard," she said. "It's not always like that in high school."
The Gulls especially needed Thornberg to step up her offense after losing forward Anna Giannoni. A team captain as a sophomore, Giannoni scored 10 goals last season but played only one game this fall before going down with a season-ending injury.
Twice this season, against Plymouth State and Bridgewater State, Endicott trailed 1-0 at halftime, but pulled out the win in the second half. Thornberg scored twice in each game, including both game-winners.
Cipolla says she was hoping Thornberg would play a bigger role all along. Cipolla says she plays the top 11 regardless of class, and although Endicott has seven seniors, Thornberg is a vocal presence on the field.
"I'm already seeing her not only develop in her skills, but her leadership as well," Cipolla said. "She has a great influence on her teammates, and has great energy."
"I feel like that comes pretty naturally to me," added Thornberg, whose team is at UMaine-Farmington at 1 p.m., today. "It's all positive encouragement. I don't yell at my teammates in any negative way."
As a part of that positive energy, Thornberg thinks Endicott can do great things this season -- and it would be even sweeter to do that after losing a player like Giannoni.
"It would be nice to win a (conference) championship," Thornberg said. "I would like to see it this year, just overcoming our best player getting hurt. Our team chemistry is great. I think we can do it."
Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243