The defending CIAC Class S Immaculate field hockey team hasn’t missed a beat in 2019.
The Mustangs finished the regular season 14-1-0-1 last season and went on to win the Class S title with a 3-0 win over Granby. Immaculate’s standout season was the result of solid offense and a stifling defense led by Lauren Oskam, one of the top goalies in Connecticut.
The domination on both ends of the field has continued this season with a 12-0 record, while Oskam has posted eight shutouts and allowed only one goal in each of the other four games.
“Lauren is a key reason that we have been successful in stopping opposing offenses this year,” Immacuate coach Shannon Horosky said. “She had more than 20 saves in the Bethel game (4-1 win), as well as a stellar performance in our games against New Milford and New Fairfield. I think one of Lauren’s key strengths is her her game sense and her command of our field.
“She is a very vocal goalie and she directs our defense to where she needs them to be. She also has great movement, something that I attribute to her playing ice hockey. She is quick and smart in goal.”
Despite losses to graduation with the on-field defenders, that phase of the game continues to have an impact limiting the shots on goal for Oskam.
“We wiped out our starting defense with graduation, but our defense has really stepped up,” Horosky said. “Emma Halas and Celia Preveza dropped back into our halfback line to compensate for losing all three of our halfbacks from last year (Madison Halas, who was All-State, All Conference, and MVP for the Class S State Championship, All-State and All-SWC Kristen Cirone and All-SWC Mackenzy Garden). We have also had strong performances from Caroline Brown and Abby Giansiracusa.”
Offensively, Molly Coyle leads the Mustangs and has 18 goals and seven assists. She scored two goals in the 3-0 win over Granby in the 2018 Class S final. Other top players on offense are Celia Preveza (12 goals, seven assists), Maddie Suarez (nine goals, four assists) and Emma Halas (six goals, six assists).
“We have 10 players who have scored and nine players who have assists this year, which helps our offense,” Horosky said.
UP AND DOWN
The Sacred Heart Academy field hockey team had an impressive 2018 season culminating with a runner-up finish in the Class M tournament, losing 3-1 to Guilford in the Class M final. But it’s been an up-and-down 2019 season due in large part to 13 losses to graduation and only three returning starters.
The Sharks own a 4-5-2 record (not including Tuesday’s game with Lauralton Hall).
“After an incredible run to the state finals last season, as we expected, our 2019 season would be a rebuilding year with the anticipation of still being competitive every game and getting better throughout the season,” Sacred Heart Academy coach Jackie DeFrancesco said. “One of the challenges we consistently face at SHA is the diversity of students. Many come from various towns and we don’t have a feeder program where they can gain familiarity with each other.
“As a result our staff fully commits and believes that we must create a team and family atmosphere, build trust and support each other on and off the field. We have experienced some great moments this season and the girls have been working well together and beginning to jell as a team. These kids work hard and believe in each other. We feel good about our chances as the postseason approaches. Our team continues to rally around the motto “Why NOT Us”
DeFrancesco said returning starter Jianna Cohrs has been “rock solid” and leads the team with eight goals and six assists. Another returning starter Mia Celantano has five goals and six assists. Leading the defense are Clare McCurly, Hannah Guth and Ali Ciaburro, combined with first year’s starters Paige Gambardella, Maya Boyhen, Morgan Demattie, Julia Clerkin, Lex Guercia, Brook Muzyka and Francesca Dowd.
Success continues for three-time defending Class L champion Staples, which owns a 9-1 record thanks to only three players lost to graduation. The returning experience also helped ease the impact of two key players lost to injury in September.
“We were missing two key players at the start of the regular season in Kyle Kirby and Laine Ambrose (calf strain and broken arm, respectively),” Staples coach Ian Tapsall said. “It was at a time when we had to play two tough FCIAC teams in Ridgefield (2-1 win) and Darien (3-1 loss).
“Both players returned for October and now we can boast a full strength squad. That has been reflected in our recent performances, which culminated in a 5-1 win over Longmeadow Mass.(on Saturday), a team ranked No. 3 in New England.”
Scoring has been balanced for the Wreckers. Kirby leads the team with seven goals and an assist followed by Isabella Deveney (seven goals, one assist), Julia DiConza (six goals, one assist), Maya Reiner (six goals, two assists) and Madelaine Ambrose (three goals, three assists).
Defense has been solid too with seven shutouts.
“One stat that stands out is that since the Darien game no team has managed more than three shots on goals against us,”Tapsall said. “That bears testament to our solid defensive unit, which includes Maisie Dembski, Izzy Deveney and Erica Fanning with Roxy Augeri in goal. We go into the final stage of the season taking nothing for granted as we have to play three top teams in New Canaan, Wilton and Norwalk.”