WESTPORT—There is little argument that the FCIAC is the strongest league in the state in the sport of field hockey.
One result, unfortunately, is that the Class L Field Hockey Tournament takes on the character of the movie “Groundhog Day.”
In essence, much of it has been a replay of the FCIAC field hockey playoffs.
On Friday, No. 2 seed Staples High School met No. 10 seed Norwalk High for the third time this season.
And the Wreckers emerged victorious for the third time as they grabbed a 1-0 home triumph at Ginny Parker field just before the rains came.
“This state tournament is a favorable commentary on the strength of the FCIAC,” said Staples coach Ian Tapsall. “Our defense is very strong so the opposition doesn’t get many opportunities. We just keep the pressure on with our quick players and strike in transition.”
Staples’ lone offensive strike of the contest came with 1:24 left in the first half. Kyle Kirby hit a long pass into the circle and sophomore Julia DiConza scored from in close for what was the game-winning goal.
“We were able to grind it out,” Staples’ Tapsall said.
The victory means Staples (20-1 overall) will meet No. 6 seed Darien (18-2-1) in the Class L semifinals at a neutral site on either Nov. 13 or Nov. 14. Darien ousted No. 3 seed Hall, 4-0, in West Hartford Friday.
No. 5 seed Newtown and No. 1 seed Cheshire will battle in next week’s other Class L semifinal.
This Staples-Darien meeting will be another passion play. Darien handed Staples its only loss of the season, 2-1 in the FCIAC Championship back on Nov. 1.
And Darien certainly recalls Staples’ 1-0 win over the Blue Wave for the 2017 Class L title. The rivals were Class L co-champs in 2016 following a 0-0 (2OT) deadlock in the finals.
For Staples coach Tapsall field hockey is a chess game played with human pieces at warp drive.
Norwalk, which finished its season at 13-6-0-1 overall, fought tooth and nail. But the Bears and marvelous sophomore forward Tessa Albrecht didn’t test Staples senior goalie Bridget Mulloy (5 saves, all in second half) the final 21 minutes.
“We knew how tough Norwalk would be from our other meetings. It’s a game of inches and I just got my leg on their last shot in the closing minute,” said Mulloy, one of just three seniors on the Staples’ roster. “But our seniors (Mulloy, defender Elle Fair, Alexis Tuccinardi) wanted this last home game here at Ginny Parker Field to be special. We’re used to having the big target on our backs. We like rising to the challenge.”
Norwalk senior goalie Jessica Monteiro finished with 14 saves.
“Staples showed their talent today. But I’m incredibly proud of the effort of our girls,” said Norwalk’s veteran coach Kyle Seaburg. “It was a great season.”
CLASS L QUARTERFINALS
STAPLES 1, NORWALK 0
NORWALK 0 0—0
STAPLES 1 0—1
Records: Norwalk 13-6-0-1, Staples 20-1. Goals: S—Julia DiConza 28:36. Assists: S—Kyle Kirby. Goalies: N—Jessica Monteiro (14 saves). S—Bridget Mulloy (5 saves).