Success is nothing new to the Immaculate field hockey team.
Since Shannon Horosky started coaching the team in 2010 the Mustangs have an impressive 114-33-14 overall record. Since 2010, they have qualified for both the South-West Conference tournament and Class S tournament every year. The Mustangs had a special season in 2017, going 13-1-1-1 in the regular season and won their first SWC tournament championship by beating Pomperaug 2-1 in the final.
This season, the Mustangs are off to another solid start at 6-0 (not including Tuesday’s night game at Masuk).
“A 6-0 start is definitely one of the best starts that we have had,” Horosky said. “But success early on does not always determine what a team will do in the post season. I am incredibly proud of the work that our team put in during the offseason.
“Our captains and our seniors did an incredible job of encouraging all of our team members to play as much as they could during the off season. Our team also shares an incredible bond and I think that translates onto the field.”
Horosky believes the key to the Mustangs’ success this season is teamwork.
“We have some amazing players on our team, but more importantly, we have incredible teamwork,” Horosky said. “Everyone comes to every practice and every game ready to play their hardest.
“We also have a very competitive team. As close as the girls are, when it comes time to play against each other during practice, they are brutal with one another. They constantly raise each other’s level of play by playing practice as if it was a game.”
One of the top players for the Mustangs has been senior center halfback Madison Halas, who contributes on offense and defense. She is one of the top playmakers on the team and can score. Junior Lauren “Lala” Oskam is a three-year starting goalie. Horosky said Oskam is one of the most mentally stable players she has ever coached because “nothing sways her concentration and focus.”
Other top players include experienced forwards Celia Preveza, Molly Coyle and Angela Vodola, and solid defensive players left halfback Kristen Cirone and Mackenzy Garden.
“It is very early in the season, so we can’t settle on these six victories,” Horosky said. “We need to keep pushing because there are always things that we are seeing that we need to work on and fix.
“We have some really tough teams that we will be coming up against in the next few weeks. We need to keep our focus and our drive and continue to improve with every game. That being said, I am incredibly proud of our team and hope that we continue to work hard towards our common goals.”
Cohesion, defense helps 4-0 Westbrook
The Westbrook field hockey team has taken no prisoners with four shutouts in its first four games, outscoring opponents 11-0 for a 4-0 record.
Westbrook coach Janet Dickey believes a combination of factors have contributed to the early success with solid play on both ends of the field due to teamwork and team camaraderie.
“Team cohesion from day one has been a big reason for our early success,” Dickey said. “Another factor is our defensive line has been very solid.”
Among the top players on the team are junior wing Lexi Koplas (four goals), senior midfielder Avery Bauman (three goals), junior forward Alex Young, senior defender Carolyn Bauman and junior defender Kendall Orlowski.
“This gives us some momentum moving forward,” Dickey said. “We hope to continue to improve with each game and make a deep run into the post season.”
The biggest test of this early part of the season comes Wednesday when the Knights host Shoreline Conference rival and defending Class S champion North Branford at 3:45 p.m. The Thunderbirds are 4-0-0-1.
Amity overcomes early loss
Competing in the tough Southern Connecticut Conference has produced up and down seasons for Amity from a win and loss perspective.
In recent years the Spartans typically hover around the .500 mark.
If this season’s start is any indication, the Spartans have the potential to produce a special season with an impact in the postseason.
After opening the season with a 7-4 loss to defending Class S champion North Branford, the Spartans have gone 4-0-1 to improve to 4-1-1 (not including Tuesday’s night game at North Haven). While it’s one of the best starts for Amity, for coach Sara Hale the real positive is their success over some top SCC teams.
Amity tied Class M defending champion Hand 1-1 on Sept.17 and defeated talented Lauralton Hall 3-0 on Sept. 11.The Crusaders advanced to the Class M semifinals three of the last four seasons and in 2013 lost 1-0 in overtime to Wilton in the Class M final.
“We are off to a great start against some very tough teams in the SCC and a non-league opponent (defeated Fairfield Warde 2-0) as well,” Hale said. “We have a very young team but they seem to play very well together. They communicate well and have a great sense of the game.
“This is one of our better starts, not so much record-wise, but the caliber of the teams we are playing and the success we are having against them.”
Hale was optimistic in the preseason but inexperience led to a cautiously optimistic approach.
“I knew going into the season that we had a talented group of players, but they were young. I am surprised at how quickly they have seemed to jell and work as a team and I think that’s a reason for our early success.
“Our players also have off-season experience. I believe our strength this season is our ability to transition up the field. We create break-a-ways and have very strong stick skills.”
Among the top players for the Spartans are forward Tess Csejka, midfielder Morgan Rahn and goalies Ana Carney and Payton Rahn.
“Those players have really helped our team,” Hale said. “On offense our top scorers are Tess and Daria Torrenti. I absolutely hope this start gives us momentum moving forward. I am very proud of the way this team is playing and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.”