A former Globe All-Scholastic field hockey player at Danvers High, Kristen McCarthy earned all-rookie honors in the Northeast-10 as a freshman at Assumption. She played 20 games as a sophomore and was named to the Division 2 national all-academic team both years. But with a desire to be closer to home, she transferred last spring to Endicott, a D3 program in nearby Beverly.
In her first season for the Gulls, the 5-foot-2 junior forward has racked up a team-leading 27 goals and 15 assists — including four game-winning goals — and started all 19 games for a squad that is 15-4 overall and 12-0 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.
“She’s a natural playmaker, she sees the field well, and has great vision,” said Endicott coach Jodi Cipolla. “She distributes the ball well. She’s also a great defender.
“She’s a 70-minute player for us, and she’s the same in minute 1 as minute 70.”
Her transition on the field was virtually seamless. She got to know her teammates quickly, and “fell in love with the team.”
“Her impact was immediate. She’s been a great leader and a great teammate, and she really started doing all that instantly,” Cipolla said. “As soon as she joined the team, it felt like she’d been with us since she was a freshman.”
McCarthy talked to the Globe about her journey.
Q: How was the transition to Endicott last spring?
A: It wasn’t as bad an adjustment as you might think. There were three girls in my grade abroad, so I only had one girl in my sophomore class that was here. She really took me in and was extremely welcoming. I honestly felt pretty at home right away. I fell in love with the team, and then coming right into preseason this year it was like no adjustment at all because I had already bonded with everyone.
Q: What do you bring to the table?
A: In a tough game, I bring the spark. I really try to pump up the team and perform on the field to motivate my team as well. Like trying to make that defensive stop to lead into the offensive zone, for example.
Q: Have you become a leader on the team, despite being a newcomer?
A: Yeah, I’d say so. Coming in this spring was a little different than coming in as a freshman. But I definitely think that my teammates respect me and come to me if they need anything that I could help them with. We always talk about different things we see, whether I see something with someone else or they think I could work on something.
Q: What are you studying?
A: I’m going to end up getting my masters’ in elementary education. I want to teach, and I want to coach at the [high school] level, probably. I like being around kids, seeing them grow and learn. Seeing that impact.
My second grade teacher is the reason I want to be a teacher. You can really make an impact on the children.
Q: Can you talk about your volunteer work?
A: Usually on Thanksgiving, my family and I deliver turkey and stuffing and all the food that you would eat on Thanksgiving to those who wouldn’t get that on the holiday. And sometimes on Christmas, me and my mom will shop for Christmas gifts for kids whose parents aren’t able to give them gifts.
Q: What’s your mentality going into the [conference] playoffs?
A: Our mentality is to take it one game at a time . . . We have to think about how it’s do or die. You play well and you win, or you don’t play well and we won’t play for the rest of the season. We really want to do it for our seniors and play well for them, because we love them.