The experience, talent and leadership of upperclassmen is usually a solid combination that leads high school teams in any sport to success. It is certainly a reason for the Guilford field hockey team’s recent solid run of victories.
But underclassmen can also make an impact and Guilford coach Kitty Palmer said a pair of sophomores is another big reason the Indians rolled off a five-game winning streak recently.
Sophomore goalie Brooke Misbach had four shutouts in the five-game stretch and sophomore midfielder Sami Clayton has contributed on both ends of the field and has been a key component in the transition game.
“I am very pleased with how well our sophomore goalie and sophomore midfielder have been playing,” Palmer said. “Most of the team are seniors, but these two, with no varsity experience until this fall, have been big contributors to our success.”
The Indians’ team defense has been a strength as Guilford allowed only five goals in eight games heading into Tuesday’s game against Lyman Hall. Guilford is 5-3 with all of its losses coming to Southern Connecticut Conference powerhouses Hand and Cheshire.
While Misbach has been key, the defense in front of her has made an impact by limiting the shots on goal. Palmer said defenders Katy Jankura, a co-captain, Jenna Moscarelli, Maddy Blank, Alissa Rams, Kayleigh Congdon and Clara Pinchbeck have played big roles.
Caroline Napoli (six goals, five assists) and MacKenzie Cattaruzza (five goals, one assist) have been the top scorers for the Indians. Forward Claudia DesPres is the other co-captain. Seniors Grace Ireland and Marnie Jacobs lead Guilford in the midfield and contribute on offensive and defensive corners.
“We have played hard against the big three of the SCC (Branford, Cheshire and Hand),” Palmer said. “We hope to be in a position at the end of the year to challenge them all for league or state titles.”
In their five-game win streak the Indians had 2-0 and 1-0 wins over Branford. The Indians could potentially face Branford or Hand in the Class M tournament.
McGuirk 500-win watch
Branford coach Cathy McGuirk is on the verge of becoming the first public school field hockey coach in Connecticut to reach career win No. 500.
The Hornets were 4-5 entering Tuesday’s home game with Sheehan. McGuirk is six wins away from the milestone with her career record standing at 494-106-62-9.
The coach with the most secondary school field hockey wins in Connecticut is Greenwich Academy coach Angela Tammaro, who has compiled a 732-75-50 record in 45 years.
“I don’t know Cathy, but I wish her all the best,” Tammaro said. “Maybe our paths will cross some day.”
A scrimmage between Branford and Greenwich Academy to match up the two coaches with the most wins in the state would surely be interesting.