Amid complaints, Coombe resigns as Wilton girls soccer coach

Freya Coombe's one season as head coach of the Wilton High girls soccer team was also her last.

Coombe, who guided a young Wilton team to the Class LL state tournament quarterfinals last fall, recently resigned as the Warriors' head coach, according to Athletic Director Chris McDougal.

"She sent an email saying she was not returning," said McDougal. "I guess she felt that she was better off moving on."

Coombe's one season was a mix of on-field success and off-field tumult. Despite severe graduation losses from the John Salvatore-coached team that went 11-3-6 and reached the FCIAC semifinals in 2014, Wilton rebounded from a 1-5-0 start to finish with an 11-8-1 record last fall. After losing to eventual conference champion Ridgefield, 1-0, in the FCIAC quarterfinals, the Warriors won two state tournament games before falling to New Canaan, 1-0, in the Class LL quarterfinals.

But along with resurgence, the season also included discord. One player, a senior starter, quit the squad during the regular season and two others, including the team's leading scorer, left before the state tournament. Among the reasons given for the departures, according to sources, was Coombe's lack of communication with players as well as concerns over the structure, tenor and safety of her practices.

Some of those complaints were raised by parents critical of the Wilton athletic department's procedures during a Board of Education meeting last Thursday. One mother of a girls soccer player said written complaints citing Coombe's disregard for the "safety, mental and emotional health" of the Wilton players were sent to school administrators last fall.

McDougal said although the Board of Education reviewed the allegations against Coombe, it does not have the authority to hire or fire coaches. McDougal also said that Coombe had chosen to resign on her own. "She was not forced into it," he said.

The net result is that the Wilton girls soccer program — the one that has produced Kristine Lilly and a Connecticut-best 11 state championships — will play the 2016 season with its fifth head coach in the past six years.

"I've had a meeting with the players," said McDougal. "We want their input on what kind of coaching style they prefer. Their opinion is going to matter with the committee in charge of finding a coach. It could be a long process because we want to make sure we get the right person."