FARMINGDALE — Before each game, Hall-Dale goalie Molly French bounces, smiles, laughs and jokes around. Then she gets to work.

It’s usually a lot of work, too. French is a senior on a young Hall-Dale field hockey team, and in her first two games this season, she made a combined 71 saves.

“Personally, it’s kind of stressful,” French said. “But I have my defense and my offense. I know they can get it out of the circle most of the time. Sometimes, it’s a lot in the circle, but I think I can face it kind of well.”

“I think Molly’s finally realized and has been OK with how much pressure that position is,” Hall-Dale coach Christen Lachapelle said. “She’s embraced it. She wants to be in that position.”

Hall-Dale entered Wednesday afternoon’s game against Dirigo with a record of 1-4. With eight freshmen on a roster of 20 players, the Bulldogs knew this might be a building year.

In most games, though, French’s play has kept things close. In a 2-1 loss to Telstar, she made 34 saves. In a 1-0 win over Winthrop on Monday, French had eight saves in the second half as Winthrop dominated the flow of play.

“I think the difference between her today and maybe the same day last year, is being afraid of what she would call failing,” Lachapelle said. “Now, she wants to have that shot taken at her with a game on the line with 10 seconds left, or have a (penalty) stroke. She’s ready. She wants to have it, and you need to have that as a keeper. You have to have tough skin, and you have to want that shot taken at you, and know you can stop it.”

That’s where the confidence part comes in. French can have a game like the one against a loaded Oak Hill team where she made 37 saves but the Bulldogs still lost 10-0. Hall-Dale isn’t on the other side of those games often. If the Bulldogs have a chance to win, French has to play well.

“I can take it. I can take the pressure,” French said. “But also, I trust my teammates to get it out, and it usually works out OK.”

This is actually only the second year French has been a full-time goalie. It’s always been her favorite position, but in her first two years, Hall-Dale was low in numbers, so she filled in as a midfielder.

“I actually really love the sport,” French said. “The team bonding — we all get along really well. I just love playing goalie, and it’s kind of my passion.”

Senior back Amber Bell is another Hall-Dale veteran. During games, you’ll see both of them instructing their teammates. French will be shouting and pointing with her stick as she prepares for the offensive attack.

“She has a very young defense in front of her,” Lachapelle said. “You have to know, first of all, where to put people, and who to mark, and where to mark. I can scream at everybody all the time. I know that they’ll be down there directing traffic. It’s good. It takes pressure off me.”

French also plays basketball at Hall-Dale, and is a fine 3-point shooter, but if she decides to be a college athlete, field hockey might be where she makes her mark.

“I’ve definitely thought about it, but I don’t really know right now,” French said. “It’s a lot of stress thinking about it. I’ve put it into thought a lot.”

“She’s definitely got the skill,” Lachapelle said. “She’s got the confidence right now. I think it’s just a matter of now more time in the gym — more weight training, more agility stuff. I think the want to do that will come after she’s seen (this success). She was happy for her first shutout, so maybe she’ll see that and say, ‘OK, I want some more. I want some more.’ Then maybe that shutout won’t be enough. Maybe playing at the next level will be something she can look forward to.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo