Even before moving from Chelmsford in the fifth grade, Joanna Archambault was looking for something extra as an eighth grader.
“I had played mostly soccer in middle school and I wasn’t enjoying it as much,” said Archambault, an Andover High senior. “My mom wanted me to try field hockey. She didn’t push it too hard, but she thought I might like it.”
Archambault’s mother may have been a bit biased. The former Concetta Marino, played at UMass Lowell (lettering 1991-93). Still, the gentle push proved a godsend for Archambault and, thus far this year, for the rebuilding Golden Warriors.
“I loved it almost right away,” said Archambault of her first full year in field hockey as an Andover freshman. “There was so much spirit and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. When I moved, I didn’t know as many people and I didn’t feel as accepted in soccer.”
Any time an athlete starts a sport in high school, there is almost always a gradual adjustment and progression. That was true with Archambault. Starting out as a forward, Archambault got considerable playing time last year for the Division 1 state champion Golden Warriors. This year, having moved to midfield, she is a tri-captain who rarely leaves the field.
“She runs track and is one of our quickest and most fit players, and our middies have to run a lot,” explained Andover coach Maureen Noone, who graduated all her midfielders from last year. “I thought she could do it. She (also) has a strong hit and can tackle from all angles.”
Archambault enjoys all the running involved with being a midfielder and is feeling more comfortable with every game as is the whole team, which stands at 9-2-2. A turning point for the rebuilding Warriors may have been the week before last when they defeated both Central Catholic (which avenged the loss a week later) and Moses Brown of Providence, which has made the Rhode Island Division 1 state final six of the last seven years.
“Winning those game meant a lot,” said Archambault, who runs the 200 meters and 400 meters for the Warriors in spring track. “We had heard how good they (Moses Brown) were, like a college team, but we played well and have started coming together.
“I’m a little surprised by our record because I thought it’d be a tough season. We have so many younger players and I knew we’d have a target on our back. But we’re working well together. ... We’re not the most skilled team but I think we can outwork anyone.”
Noone gives Archambault a great deal of credit for the rapid rebuilding.
“Joanna sets the tone at practice and games with her work ethic,” said Noone. “She is a positive influence on our younger players who strive to be like her. Joanna will do anything ... to better our team.”
Said Archambault: “Being a captain on this (young) team is definitely a responsibility. But things are coming together and I think we have the potential to go far.”
If that turns out to be the case, Archambault will have played a key role and both she and Noone might want to give a hearty thanks to her mother.
Eight is enough!
Joanna Archambault is the oldest of eight children but none will be following her on the field hockey field.
Twins Angelina and Concetta, 16, are more focused on volleyball and basketball. They’re followed by five brothers — Jimmy (14), Nicholas (12), Anthony (10), Dominic (6) and Joseph (4).