WEST HARTFORD >> The Conard field hockey team is off to a strong start and is in good position heading into the final half of the 2014 regular season.
The Chieftains have won two straight and six of their last seven in a 7-1-1 start that has them, currently ranked fifth in the Class L state playoff rankings.
“We are definitely pleased with our start,” Conard coach Cathy Callahan said. “We have had some great wins, one game we wish we could have won instead of tied, but it has been a nice run so far.”
Conard’s run started with a 5-0 win over East Catholic and then a 1-1 tie with Farmington. Since then, the Chieftains are 6-1 with the lone loss coming to undefeated Glastonbury (6-0).
“Our starters have been playing well together,” Callahan said. “They are clicking, playing together as a team and communicating out on the field, which is nice.”
The Chieftains were again clicking on Monday as they posted a 3-0 victory over Newington to wrap up a stretch of five straight road games. Lizzy Christensen, Cassie Falvey and Nora Policelli all scored a goal for Conard, which got five saves from Avery Sherrill.
Conard now has four consecutive home games after going 4-1 on its recent road swing.
“It wasn’t as tough as I thought it was going to be before the season when I looked at the schedule,” Callahan said of the road trip. “The girls just took it in stride, one game at a time and have been playing their hearts out.”
So far this season Conard has been led by Sherrill, a junior in goal, and a stingy defense. The Chieftains have allowed five goals in nine games and have posted six shutouts. Callahan credits Sherrill along with Caroline Kane, Victoria Conelli and Rebecca Gotthelf for making it hard for the opposition to put the ball in the cage.
“Our defense has been excellent this season,” Callahan said. “They have been doing a phenomenal job for us back there. Having Becca back at sweeper with her returning from a pair of knee injuries is a great story. She is having a great season and it’s nice to see. You wouldn’t know anything about the injuries watching and being around her, she’s a very positive and great kid.”
While the defense has been solid, the Chieftains have been scoring just enough to make it work and offense is one place Callahan would like to see her team improve down the stretch. Conard has scored two or fewer goals in six of nine games this season (4-1-1 in those games) and a little more offense paired with its strong defense would make Conard an even bigger threat come tournament time.
“Scoring has been a little bit of a problem and it was nice to see us put in three Monday, including a goal from a freshman,” Callahan said. “I’d definitely like to see us score a little more. We always want to score first; Score first, that’s our motto. If we do that with our defense, we will be in good shape.”
The Chieftains were scheduled to face South Windsor on Tuesday at home to begin a four-game home stand. Conard also hosts Simsbury (8-0) on the home stand.
“We are looking forward to playing some games at home and we have some of our tougher games coming up so being home is nice,” Callahan said. “We want to keep our win streak going and we are looking to get into states and go farther than last season (second round).”