Sending an athlete to a top-notch Division I program is a great accomplishment for any high school sports program, and an even greater achievement for a small school like Pierson.
Ana Sherwood is the latest Lady Whalers field hockey player to sign her letter of intent to play for a big-time team. The senior will head to Villanova University in the fall to begin her collegiate career.
Sherwood has been a force for the Lady Whalers over the course of a five-year varsity career. She was a starter on the team that won the program’s first ever state championship in 2013, led her team back to states last season, and was instrumental in helping her squad defend its Suffolk County Championship this year before a 1-0 loss to Carle Place in the Long Island Championship. Sherwood finished the season with 14 goals and 8 assists to lead her team.
While Sherwood’s obvious talents are a big reason why she drew attention from some of the top teams in the nation, she put in countless hours during the offseason to make herself into a legitimate Division I prospect. Sherwood was a dedicated year-round field hockey player, competing for coach Kim Hannigan on the East End Field Hockey indoor travel team during the winter months and making several trips around the country per year to play in national tournaments during the spring. She also spent considerable time improving her personal strength and fitness off the field, as a dedicated client at Muvstrong in East Hampton.
While Sherwood proved herself to be a strong all-around athlete, playing varsity basketball last year and with plans to play lacrosse this spring, she was adamant that field hockey was always her undisputed number one sport. Sherwood started playing on youth teams as a young elementary school student, and her love of the sport only grew from there.
She became the latest standout player on a long list of Pierson field hockey alums who’ve gone on to great success, most recently her former teammate Kasey Gilbride, who just finished her junior season at the University of Richmond, another Division I school.
“It’s really cool,” Sherwood said of keeping that tradition of excellence alive. “Being in eighth-grade and looking up to those players, and now I’m that, and hopefully the younger girls are looking up to me. We’re a small school and everyone is so close, so it makes it even more special.”
Sherwood will join a Villanova squad that competes against some of the top teams in the nation in the highly competitive Big East, including no. 7 UConn, the alma mater of current Pierson field hockey head coach and Pierson graduate Bethany Semlear. The Wildcats went 5-13 on the season and were 2-5 in Big East play this year. The team is coached by Joanie Milhous, who has been at the helm for nearly two decades and collected her 200th career win in the final game of the regular season, a 3-2 triumph over Georgetown on October 29.
Sherwood said choosing Villanova from her list of potential schools was easy.
“It wasn’t difficult for me to decide where I wanted to go,” she said. “It was just the balance of academics and athletics at Villanova, and the great coaching staff and the reputation Villanova has as a college.”
Sherwood said she isn’t sure just how she will fit into the lineup at Villanova next year, but she’s not worried about that.
“I’m willing to play and try whatever they need me to fill in,” she said. “If there’s a place, I’m going to work hard to get into it.”