The New Fairfield Rebels have two state championships under their belts, are the defending SWC champions, and returned all but two starters for the 2019 season.
All that success, however, hasn’t made the team any less hungry.
“The players are very proud of what they accomplished last year, but realize that this is the 2019 season and they need to prove themselves now,” coach Karen Nell said. “They continue to work hard to prepare for each game and respect each opponent.”
So far, the results have been spectacular.
The Rebels topped New Milford 19-3 on Tuesday to remain unbeaten at 7-0 and have outscored their opponents by the eye-popping margin of 115-28. They’re ranked No. 9 and are the only Class S team in the latest state coaches poll.
New Fairfield’s seven victories include an 11-7 decision against over fellow SWC contender Newtown — one of just three teams to beat New Fairfield during its 20-3 campaign last season.
Newtown won, 9-6, on the final day of the regular season last year, but the Rebels won the next seven games to claim their first SWC championship since 2005 and then repeated as Class S champs, defeating East Catholic 9-6 in the title game.
Combined with the seven victories to start this season, New Fairfield owns a 14-game winning streak and is looking like a clear contender once again.
“The key to our great start has been the returning players and their leadership,” Nell said. ‘They know what it’s like to win and want to continue the tradition.”
That includes stars such as goalie Rachel Mikolay, a three-year starter and two-year all-state first team selection. She was the MVP of the 2017 Class S final — as a sophomore — and will play at Elon University in North Carolina next year.
Junior midfielder Katelyn Sousa, another all-state first-team selection, was named the Most Outstanding Player of last year’s SWC tournament. She’s committed to play for Furman University.
Senior attack Katelyn Nieves will play for Iona next season, while senior midfielder Sydney Colesworthy will represent Sacred Heart University.
Senior Eileen Rattigan and juniors Daria Bock and Danielle Hernandez star on a defense that has surrendered just 28 goals in seven games.
With all the experience on the roster, Nell did not name team captains for the season, going instead with different captains in each game, essentially making everyone a leader.
“We have game-day captains because we believe that every player has the potential to be a leader on and off the field,” Nell said.
The road ahead is tough. In their final nine games, the Rebels will face six teams with winning records, including unbeaten Canton (6-0), North Branford (8-0) and Pomperaug (8-0-1).
They’ll also close out the regular season with a huge test when they host the No. 5 Staples Wreckers (7-1) at home on May 14.
“I am blessed to have such a talented group of hard-working young women,” Nell said. “We have set our goals high and continue to work every day toward those goals.”
GAINS FOR BRAINS
The two top-ranked teams in the latest coaches poll will take to the road this weekend when the No. 1 Darien Blue Wave and No. 2 New Canaan Rams play in the annual Gains for Brains tournament at Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.
The event includes eight games featuring 16 of the region’s top girls lacrosse programs on Saturday and Sunday.
The tournament raises fund for the Making Headway Foundation, which provides comfort and care for children diagnosed with brain and spinal cord tumors, and helps fund medical research toward treatment and a cure.
Gains for Brains has raised nearly $45,000 in its first four years.
This will be the fourth year participating for Darien and New Canaan. Darien has gone 3-0 at the tournament and defeated Long Beach (N.Y.) 14-7 last year, while New Canaan is 1-2 in its three games, and fell to Ward Melville 11-9 last spring.
Darien and New Canaan will both play in Saturday’s games, with Darien facing Eastport-South Manor at 3 p.m., and New Canaan facing host Cold Spring Harbor at 7 p.m.
Jane Charlton, New Canaan: Charlton scored six goals and added one assist in the Rams’ 11-5 win over the visiting Longmeadow (Mass.) Lancers on Saturday. She also had three draw controls. Charlton also scored with 1.7 seconds remaining to give No. 2 New Canaan a 6-5 win over Ridgefield on Monday.
Annie Eddy, Cheshire: Eddy scored six goals as No. 4 Cheshire handed Staples its first loss of the season, 13-12. She then racked up eight goals and one assist in a 16-13 victory over Guilford on Tuesday.
Ashley Humphrey, Darien: Humphrey directed the Blue Wave offense with one goal and four assists during No. 1 Darien’s 10-6 win over Radnor (PA) on Thursday.
Lily Ivanovich, St. Joseph: Ivanovich had eight points on five goals and three assists as the Cadets defeated town rival Trumbull, 16-7.
Kyle Kirby, Staples: Kirby had a hat trick and five assists for eight points, and added seven drawn controls in the No. 5 Wreckers’ 13-12 loss to Cheshire.
Isla Lionetti, Branford: Lionetti, a freshman, had nine points with six goals and three assists as the Hornets topped Shelton 16-4.
Tristan Novakowski, Old Saybrook: Novakowski had a hat trick and four assists to help lead Old Saybrook to a 15-7 victory over Morgan.
Melanny Sanchez-Alvarez, Stamford: The junior scored four goals and had two assists in the Black Knights’ 13-9 win over Hamden.
Hayden Saunders, Old Lyme: Saunders made 13 saves in the Wildcats’ 9-8 win over Morgan.
Julia Skillin, Wilton: Skillin scored four goals and added five assists for nine points in Wilton’s 17-7 win over Greenwich in a key FCIAC game last Wednesday.
Lydia Tinnerello, Old Lyme: Tinnerello scored seven goals to lead Old Lyme to a 9-8 victory over Morgan.
GAMES TO WATCH
Bishop Ireton (Va.) at Darien, Thursday, 4 p.m.: Darien faces its third out-of-state opponent as the Bishop Ireton Cardinals make the trek from Virginia. The Cards have won the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I championship in four of the last five seasons.
Ridgefield at Staples, Thursday, 4 p.m.: An all-FCIAC showdown between two teams ranked in the state’s top 10. Ridgefield nearly knocked off No. 2 New Canaan on Monday, while Staples is coming off its first loss.
Cheshire at South Windsor, Thursday, 4:15 p.m.: Cheshire is one goal away from being undefeated, while South Windsor is perfect through four games.
New Fairfield at Masuk, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.: New Fairfield looks to keep its early-season roll going when it faces a solid Masuk team in Monroe.
Ridgefield at Ludlowe, Saturday, 10 a.m.: Ridgefield faces its third ranked team in a six-day span. This game could be key in the FCIAC seedings next month.
Pomperaug at Daniel Hand, 11 a.m.: Pomperaug tries to remain undefeated when it takes on a strong Daniel Hand team at the Surf Club in Madison.
Guilford at Warde, Saturday, noon: Warde is an under-the-radar FCIAC team, as its only three losses have come against teams ranked in the top five. Guilford will be a big test.
Darien vs. Eastport-South Manor (N.Y.) at Cold Spring Harbor, Saturday, 3 p.m.: Darien is the first FCIAC team up in the Gains for Brains Tournament at Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., this weekend.
New Canaan at Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.), Saturday, 7 p.m.: New Canaan takes on the host of the Gains for Brains Tournament on Saturday night.
Canton at New Fairfield, Monday, 5 p.m.: A battle between two unbeaten Class S teams who have their sights set on deep tournament runs again.
Wilton at New Canaan, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.: A showdown between the No. 2 New Canaan Rams and No. 3 Wilton Warriors under the lights at Dunning Field.