HONESDALE — On a night set aside for celebration, a slight tinge of sadness also permeated the auditorium and cafeteria.
Hundreds of local fans had gathered at Honesdale High School to take part in the annual Friends of Field Hockey banquet.
The Lady Hornets varsity squad was fresh off a record-breaking season that concluded with a trip to the District Two Class AAA gold medal game.
Meanwhile, on the junior high scene, the young Lady Hornets also enjoyed a solid 2012 campaign. Honesdale posted a respectable record of 4-5-1 and will graduate several talented players to the varsity ranks.
"This was an interesting season to say the least," veteran Coach Michele Walsh told TWI Sports.
"We had to deal with a ton of adversity, mostly due to injuries. But, the girls hung tough and showed a lot of heart. I'm proud of how they responded."
Sadly for players and fans alike, this marked the final Friends of Field Hockey banquet for Coach Walsh. After 13 years of selfless dedication to the program, Michele is stepping down.
"We're really going to miss her," varsity Coach Becca Maciejewski said.
"Michele has been a huge part of this program for 13 years. She's always been very enthusiastic and hard working. Whoever succeeds Michele is going to have big shoes to fill."
Coach Walsh took a deep breath and fought back a tear when asked what this last banquet meant to her.
"It's definitely a bittersweet feeling," she said. "I'm very proud of this team, but at the same time it makes me sad to think that I won't be doing this next year. I'm going to miss it, but I'm looking forward to new adventures, too."
Michele Walsh is a product of the Honesdale system and was the longest tenured member of the staff this fall.
Page 2 of 2 - She possesses a tireless work ethic and a genuine love of the game. Coach Walsh has always stresed the importance of fundamentals, teamwork and sportsmanship.
Honesdale's 2012 squad is a perfect reflection of those characteristics.
The Lady Hornets junior high team was led by a quartet of eighth grade captains in Riley Barton, Allison Meyer, Heaven Houck and Clayre Smith.
Smith and Freiermuth paced the Red & Black offensive attack this fall. Clayre hammered home seven goals and handed out two assists, while Nicole scored seven times and dished four dimes.
Other veteran junior high players who also made their presence felt on offense included: Shelby Card (two goals), Jaclyn Martin (two goals), Amanda Wohlmaker (two goals), Diejhia Halcomb and Leah Jay (one goal apiece).
Meyer was Honesdale's top distributor with five total assists.
Seventh grader Rebecca Freshour had a breakout campaign with four goals and an assist.
"This year's team was so easy to work with," Coach Walsh said. "They're a great group of girls and I'm really going to miss them."
Coach Walsh was ably assisted by another former Lady Hornet, Grace Manzione.
"I think the Honesdale field hockey program gets better and better every year," Coach Walsh said. "And, I'm honored to have been a small part of that."