5 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kyle Kirby, Staples
Kirby, a junior midfielder, leads the Wreckers’ high-powered offense. She had 23 goals and 18 assists ebtering the postseason. She missed her sophomore season after undergoing knee reconstruction due to a torn ACL. Kirby will play lacrosse at the University of Notre Dame in the fall of 2020.
Shea Van den Broek, Darien
Part of the Blue Wave’s dynamic offensive trio with Bridgett Mahoney and Molly Hellmnan, Van den Broek is tough to defend with her exceptional speed and stick skills. She scored three goals in the first half in a 3-2 win over Greenwich in the FCIAC tournament semifinals and had a goal in a 2-1 win over Staples in the FCIAC final.
Annie Eddy, Cheshire
Eddy, a midfielder and U.S. Lacrosse All-American last season, is part of the Rams’ 1-2 scoring punch along with Mikayla Crowley. Eddy is the team’s field general combining communication and exceptional stick skills. “Annie is a born leader, and because of this dictates effective plays both with her consistently high level play and with her voice,” coach Eileen Wildermann said. “Her game IQ is top notch.”
Anna Casinghino, Suffield
The midfielder is a UConn commit and continues her family legacy. Her mother, Suffield coach Heather Casinghino, was a standout at Nonnewaug and is a member of the Connecticut Field Hockey Hall of Fame class. Her grandmother Rebecca Waters played at Towson State. Casinghino entered the postseason as one of Suffield’s top scorers with 17 goals.
Avery Bauman, Westbrook
Bauman is one of the top scorers in the Shoreline Conference and has been named the 2018 Shoreline Conference Player of the Year. She led the Knights to a 14-2-2 record and the Shoreline Conference tournament final where Westbrook lost 2-0 to North Branford.
Staples looking to three-peat in Class L
The No. 2 seed Wreckers have been one of the top teams in the state the past two seasons and enter the CIAC Class L tournament as the two-defending champion. They tied FCIAC rival Darien 0-0 in the 2016 Class L final to finish as co-champs with the Blue Wave and beat Darien 1-0 in the 2017 Class L final. Staples, 18-1, has been dominant on both sides of the ball outscoring opponents 104-8 with 12 shutouts. Midfielder Kyle Kirby leads the high-powered offense. Midfielder Ellie Fair, committed to play field hockey at Trinity College, leads the on-field defense. The Wreckers will be a little more motivated after a 2-1 loss to Darien in the FCIAC tournament final last week, which snapped a 24-game win streak.
You should know: Staples entered the postseason ranked No. 1 in Connecticut, No. 2 in the Northeast and No. 25 in the nation.
Coming off its 2-1 win over Staples in the FCIAC tournament final, the Blue Wave serves as one of the top challengers for familiar rival and two-time defending champion Wreckers in Class L. After starting the season 2-2, No. 6 Darien has gone 14-0-1 and enter the Class L tournament 16-2-1. The Blue Wave have had success on both ends of the field, outscoring opponents 90-17. The balanced offense is led by forwards Shea Van den Broek and Molly Hellman and center midfielder Bridgett Mahoney. Center halfback Tala Garcia controls the midfield and Lilly Kulesz is among the top defenders at right fullback.
You should know: The Blue Wave have had their share of postseason success with 13 appearances in the CIAC state finals since 1981 (eight in Class L, five in Class M) with four Class M titles and five Class L titles (co-champs with Staples in 2016 and co-champs with Glastonbury in 2014).
SCC strong contingent led by Cheshire, Guilford
Cheshire, the No. 1 seed in Class L, has been one of the top teams in the state throughout the season and right behind has been Guilford, the No. 3 seed in Class M. As fate would have it, the two teams met in the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament final on Saturday. The Rams entered the game 18-0 with 17 shutouts but the Indians put together one of their most dominant games of the season that produced 14 penalty corners for Guilford and only one for Cheshire. Guilford won 3-1 for the SCC title. The win gives Guilford momentum heading into the CIAC Class M tournament where it is a strong contender for the title. Ella Stanley and Celia Mariconda are among the top scorers and among the top players on defense are Emily Torre, Mariah Cretella, Kelsi Putnam and Janie Danaher. Cheshire is loaded with talent led by its 1-2 scoring punch of Mikayla Crowley and Annie Eddy, defender Jade Barnes and goalie Lexie Hemstock. Other SCC teams expected to have deep runs in the state tournament include defending Class M champion Hand and Branford, which also is in M.
You should know: Cheshire won two Class M titles in 1978 and 1981 and won Class L titles in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2001 and 2011. Guilford won a Class L title in 1997 (co-champs with Simsbury, played to a 1-1 tie).
Other top teams in Class L, M
Among the top teams in the northern part of the state who have the potential for deep runs in the CIAC Class L and M tournaments include two in Class L and two in Class M. Hall (15-0-1) and Enfield (13-1-2) had solid regular seasons and are the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, respectively, in Class L. Enfield is led by Central Connecticut Conference standout Tori Geaglone who excels on both ends of the field. Among the top northern teams in Class M are top seed Suffield (14-1-0-1) and No. 4 Avon (13-3). One of the top scorers for Suffield is Anna Casinghino whose mom is Suffield coach Heather Casinghino. Another top contender in Class M is No. 2 seed Pomperaug (16-1-2) from the South-West Conference. Pomperaug enters the Class M tournament coming off a 1-0 win over Immaculate in the SWC tournament final. Among the top players for Pomperaug are Jillian Murray and Cam Frissora. Murray scored the game-winning goal in the SWC final. Frissora was named the SWC tournament outstanding player and had three goals in Pomperaug’s 3-0 win over New Milford in the SWC semifinals.
You should know: The last time a northern team won a field hockey state title was Glastonbury in 2014. The Tomahawks were co-champs with the Blue Wave (they played to a 1-1 tie in the final).
Class S wide open
There are at least a half dozen teams in Class S with a chance to win the title. Among the favorites are defending Class S champion North Branford, the No.6 seed, and No. 4 Westbrook. Both teams met in the Shoreline Conference tournament final and the Thunderbirds won 2-0. The Knights are led by 2018 Shoreline Conference Player of the Year Avery Bauman and the Thunderbirds are led by 2017 Shoreline Conference Player of the Year Amy Raucci. Granby (15-1) is the top seed in Class S and should have some extra motivation after losing 2-1 to North Branford in the final last season. Stonington (14-1-1), the No. 2 seed, is led by Colette Dreher, one of the top defenders in Class S, and Miranda Arruda who is a standout on both ends of the field. Stonington and East Lyme ended up as co-champs in the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament, finishing in a scoreless tie in the final. Immaculate (16-2-0-1) is led by goalie Lauren Oskam and the Mustangs are coming off a 1-0 loss to Pomperaug in the SWC tournament final. Nonnewaug (13-3) is another contender.
You should know: How much parity is there in Class S? Since 2011 there have been seven different champions with only one team winning twice in the last seven years — 2011 Granby, 2012 Haddam-Killingworth, 2013 Stonington, 2014 Lewis Mills, 2015 Thomaston, 2016 co-champs Haddam-Killingworth and Westbrook, 2017 North Branford.