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Lebanon’s Gonyea a D-III field hockey force at Simmons

  • Sydney Gonyea —Simmons College

  • Sydney Gonyea, a former Lebanon High athlete, is shown playing against Johnson and Wales University. Mike Broglio—Simmons College

  • Former Lebanon High standout Sydney Gonyea was the 2022 Great Northeast Athletic Conference player of the season in field hockey. Simmons College — Mike Broglio

  • Aug. 26, 2022 Boston, Mass. Holmes Sports Center

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/26/2022 9:17:10 PM
Modified: 12/3/2022 2:01:27 AM

Sydney Gonyea has found a comfortable niche at Simmons College, a private women’s school in the heart of Boston, not far from Fenway Park. The Lebanon High graduate has also discovered a higher gear in her field hockey game, recently producing a breakout sophomore season with the Sharks.

The Greater Northeast Athletic Conference’s offensive player of the year, Gonyea scored 27 goals and added 16 assists, leading Simmons to a 16-3-0 overall record and a 9-2-0 mark in conference play. A loss to top-seeded Johnson & Wales in the GNAC title game ended the Sharks’ season short of the NCAA Division III tournament, but Gonyea cemented her status as one of New England’s best players at that level.

“She sees different options now, not just going to goal,” said Simmons coach Amanda Arpe of a player who ranked fifth in Division III in goals per game.

“She knows which runs to make and when to pass the ball. She’s also learned the beauty of playing defense, which was a big challenge for her but crucial to our success this year.”

Gonyea suffered a bitter loss during her final high school game, sending a penalty stroke wide of the cage during overtime of an NHIAA Division II playoff clash with archrival Hanover. She finished her career tied atop the Raiders career goals list with 55.

Lebanon coach and teacher Amanda Valliere looked out her classroom window early the next morning to see Gonyea practicing penalty strokes.

“Your heart breaks in moments like that, but Syd is such a happy human,” Valliere said. “A lot of times, young people live in their own worlds and don’t connect to the older people around them. But she was always aware of others’ thoughts and feelings and reciprocated all the support that was given to her.”

Gonyea made college field hockey her goal early in her high school career and played club and indoor versions of the sport. She visited Simmons as a sophomore and immediately felt at home, applying early to the all-female institution. She started all but one game as a Sharks freshman, leading the team with 14 goals, while choosing to major in social work and minor in public health.

With a goal of working in crisis management for hospital emergency rooms, Gonyea has six nearby hospitals at which she can do clinical internships during the next few years. She’ll also continue to hone her considerable field hockey skills.

“She’s a scorer with a rocket shot who releases it quickly,” Arpe said. “Other teams have a hard time defending her because she’s so fast and understands when to go one-on-one and when to release the ball.”

Said Gonyea: “I’ve gotten down my shot on the run, and that’s really helped. A lot of the goals I scored in high school were tips out front.”

College field hockey’s artificial playing surfaces and dedicated athletes make for a speedy game. Gonyea’s also thrilled with the immersion and intensity required to play at that level.

“It’s a very large part of the fall, basically all we think about,” she said. “It’s important to me, and I’m lucky to have people around me who care about being competitive. When we get back to school, we’ll run four times a week and lift weights three times a week.”

All in the service of carrying her team to new heights.

Tris Wykes can be reached at

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