The Watertown High School girls field hockey team broke the national record for winning streaks Wednesday, winning their 154th game in a row, 6-0. As a comparison, the longest National Hockey League winning streak, for the record, is 17 games by the Pittsburgh Penguins, according to The Boston Globe.
The Watertown Raiders have not lost a single game since Nov. 12, 2008, taking the record from Eastern High School of Voorhees, N.J., whose field hockey squad broke the previous record in 2005.
“It’s unreal,” senior Ally McCall, a co-captain on the team, said. “It’s such an unbelievable feeling, to achieve something like this.”
Some of the girls on the Watertown hockey team have been playing the game since the third grade, Ally adds, so their victory was a culmination of something that has always been a part of their lives. As Title IX was designed to promote gender equality in education, subsequent funding for girls’ sports in particular has had a range of positive side effects.
In addition to improved academic performance, girls who play sports in high school are likely to be more confident and less likely to suffer from depression or negative body perception. Ally can certainly attest to these perks.
“It’s great being on a team and having so many people around to support you,” she says. “When I was a freshman, I was shy and nervous but I had this group around me, helping me through hard times. They really built my confidence up.”
After the big win Wednesday, do they feel like superstars? Not so much, says Michaela Antonellis, also a senior and co-captain of the Raiders. “We’re just athletes playing a sport.”
For Michaela and Ally, it’s all about the team.
“The team is very special to us. We’re all so closely knit,” Michaela says. “Last year we had to cope with a million different new lineups, but this year we’re really coming together.”
As for the secret strategy behind such a colossal winning streak? Carpe diem.
“All these years we never focused on the past or the future, we focused on what’s in front of us,” says Eileen Donahue, who has been a coach for 30 years. The long haul tactic had always been living in the moment.
For Coach Donahue, a physical education teacher at the Watertown Elementary School, breaking the hockey team record was never a conscious goal. It was a brief topic of discussion at the beginning of the season, during the first practice, and then it was never discussed again.
“Why would we focus on something in the future,” she asks, “when we’re very, very aware that it could be taken away at any moment.”
Her players share this grounded attitude. Breaking the hockey team record was never the priority, and neither was winning, Ally recalls. “Each game, each practice was my priority,” she says.
In 2013, Donahue was awarded Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association. She has seen 590 wins in the span of her career. In the last couple of years, she has taken up coaching the girls’ lacrosse team as well.