Field hockey: Warriors bounce back, blank Rams 3-0
It’s been a long time since the Wilton High field hockey team opened a season with a loss, and the Warriors were definitely not about to let their record fall to 0-2 when they visited New Canaan on Wednesday for a big early-season game.
And they accomplished that mission with an impressive 3-0 win over the Rams, rebounding from Friday’s 2-1 loss to Fairfield Ludlowe in the season opener.
“We just came together and said, you know what, we lost and that’s behind us and we just need to look forward and compete to our best,” said senior captain Jess Hendry. “It was the first game and we were all seeing how we could play and how we played together.”
“It was definitely a 180 (degree) performance from Friday’s game. They played way more cohesively this game,” said first-year co-coach Toniann Cortina.
“I think our intensity level was much higher this game as opposed to Friday’s game. You saw it from the back line all the way going to the forward line,” said Liz Pisko, the team’s other first-year co-coach. “The girls were playing like they were hungry for it. We worked on putting the ball in the goal.”
“We really worked on shooting and passing, and tipping , and I think it really showed in this game,” said Hendry.
Molly Thomas put Wilton up 1-0 just over three minutes into the game, off an Olivia Hahn assist, and Emma Rothkopf banged home a shot with 9:57 left in the half, off a feed from Thomas.
Emma Rosen closed out the scoring early in the second half.
The Warriors had a 16-3 edge in shots goal, as New Canaan goalies Emily Gaeta and Kaitlyn Fico combined for 10 saves to keep Wilton to only three goals.
Wilton sophomore Megan Kaeyer came up big when it counted in goal, with three saves to earn her first varsity shutout.
For a team that has 11 new players, and basically has a new starting lineup in terms of position, Wednesday’s performance was a big step forward.
“We played really well. We made great passes. We really worked well together,” said Hendry. “We have great chemistry. There are a lot of seniors and we really want to win because it’s our last year.”
Hendry, who has started on defense the past three seasons, is now on the frontline along with another longtime defender, senior captain Molly Thomas, and returning starter Emma Rothkopf, a junior.
That means all four players on the backline — including Kaeyer and the other goalie, freshman Michelle Prario — are new to those starting spots. But two of those players — senior center back Molly Ward and senior back/midfielder Madeleine Pagliaro — are both returning players who played key roles — at midfield or forward —in last year's run to the FCIAC title.
“Molly Ward is killing it at center back. I feel so safe with her being back there, because she’s like a brick wall. The other defenders and playing awesome. They’ve really stepped up,” said Hendry.
Seniors Sophia Mercado and Alyssa Murphy and juniors Kimberly Coastano and Jayne Guglielmo are the newcomers who have helped solidify the backline.
The Warriors have an experienced and talented midfield unit with senior captains Sophia Kaplan and Emma Rosen in the center, along with outside midfielders Olivia Hahn, a sophomore, and Robin Clasby, a junior.
Seniors Sophia Kammerman and Adriana Curtis and junior Madelyn McCaghey also played well in the midfield, while junior Isabella Rende and Madison Schattenfield played key minutes on the front line.
Both Wilton coaches said every game is a learning experience, and that last Friday’s loss was part of that process.
“You’re not going to let that control your season,” said Cortina. “As we told the girls, we can learn from everything, so we took that experience, we used it in our practices, and it showed today.”