Field hockey: Wilton ready to defend title

Coming off perhaps the greatest season in program history, don’t expect the Wilton High field hockey team to take a step backwards when it opens the season today at home against Pomperaug.

The Warriors, fresh off back-to-back Class M state titles, return 11 players from last year’s team that finished 21-0-0-1, with the only loss coming in overtime to Greenwich in the FCIAC semifinals.

Nine players have played roles in both state championships, and two are four-year starters. Those nine, in addition to the two state titles, have compiled 41 wins against only four losses the last two seasons.

While the team has to replace several key players, it returns proven performers all over the field from a team that outscored opponents 87-6.

“Each day in pre-season we have improved integrating our young players with our experienced players and building a stronger foundation,” commented head coach Deirdre Hynes, last year’s Class M Coach of the Year. “We look forward to the home opener against Pomperaug next Tuesday.”

The Warriors graduated six seniors in Joanne Nazareth, Valentina Tudisco, Annie Lynch, Caroline DeAngelis, Julia Muirhead and Megan Ward. All played major roles last year, if not the last two years. The big loss is Nazareth, a sparkplug in the midfield who was first-team All-State and also named to the Southern New England All-American Team. She was a defensive standout and also had 11 goals and 11 assists.

Tudisco was second on the team with 15 goals, while Ward (seven goals, seven assists), Lynch (two goals) and DeAngelis (three goals) all sparked the offense. Muirhead was one of the mainstays on defense.

The returning players are led by senior midfielder Madison Hendry, one of the most skilled stickhandlers and shooters in the state, who will again be the dominant player on the field in any game Wilton plays. Last year, Hendry led the team with 19 goals and 12 assists, and was named to the first-team All-State and Southern New England All-American teams.

Wilton also has a returning first-team All-State and Southern New England All-American player in senior goalie Lizette Roman-Johnston, who recorded 17 shutouts last season.

The defense will again be anchored by the steadying presence of senior Jill Detrick-Yee, like Hendry a four-year starter who earned All-FCIAC East honors last year and also had three goals and three assists; and returning starters Annie Cornbrooks and Kylie Cafiero, who is one of the team’s four senior captains along with Hendry, Roman-Johnston and Detrick-Yee. Also back is senior Maggie Mendola.

Up front, the Warriors return senior Emmie Arrix (14 goals, five assists), another All-FCIAC East pick last year; senior Kailey Zengo (one goal), and juniors Megan Cunningham (five goals), Caroline Taverna (two goals) and Kristen Godin (two goals, four assists),

Hynes said a key newcomer is junior Delany Baxendale, who will a impact player in the midfield.