NEWTOWN — Returning to the place that she turned into a force during the earlier part of the decade, Newtown girls lacrosse coach Maura Fletcher picked up right where she left off after a two-year absence.
Despite not taking the job until well into preseason preparation, Fletcher — who left in 2014 after leading Newtown to 10 SWC titles — helped lead the Nighthawks to an 18-3 record and her 11th SWC championship last spring. The drive for another title remains strong
“I was pleasantly surprised about last year,” said Fletcher after a rain-soaked rout of Immaculate in the season opener Tuesday. “I literally didn’t know I would be the coach until February and I missed the first 12 days of practice. It was a challenge getting to know the girls; I had left a couple years earlier, so I only coached two of those girls as freshmen. It’s much easier to pick up from where we left off last year.”
Fletcher won’t need name tags this season as many key contributors from last year’s effort return, including senior sniper Alex Futterman, who scored 63 goals and dished out 27 assists in 2017. Dylan Zahansky and Hana Rosenthal are also senior scorers for the Nighthawks.
Tess Davenport and Caitlin Gregory both return in goal for Newtown, which brings back seven seniors.
“Our chemistry is awesome,” Futterman said. “It’s great to see, we’re all having so much fun. We want to keep challenging ourselves. We had a good year and maybe surprised ourselves but it’s not like we’re the best team in Connecticut yet.”
The team to beat in the SWC is still out for improvement, though. Its three losses last year all came against FCIAC opposition. The Nighthawks haven’t beaten an FCIAC team since Ridgefield in April 2014 and dangerous SWC squads in Pomperaug and Barlow lurk as serious title threats.
“(Those games) are like a reality check,” Fletcher said. “They go out against teams like Warde; all these schools have two-to-three Division I players. It’s a great reality check. If you think you’re good but then you go play the big dogs. It’s humbling but it makes us better.”
Newtown — which didn’t lose a SWC game last season — will once again test itself against several tough out-of-conference opponents this campaign. Games against FCIAC squads Ridgefield and Warde. Futterman — strong in the faceoff circle — gives the Nighthawks hope.
“What drives me is competitiveness,” said Futterman, who scored eight times against the Mustangs. “I want to play against the better teams and I want to pull out a win because we’re the underdog in all those games. I think a lot I know a lot of the girls down there and it’s exciting to go up against them in the circle.”