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FALL PREVIEW Staples field hockey looks for upgrade on offense

Updated 5:28 pm, Tuesday, September 3, 2013

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  • Staples' Jodie Baris defends the goal during their field hockey game against Darien at Staples High School in Westport. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post
    Staples' Jodie Baris defends the goal during their field hockey game against Darien at Staples High School in Westport. Photo: Autumn Driscoll

 

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Staples field hockey coach Ashley Del Vecchio admits that last season was a transition year for the Wreckers.

Del Vecchio, who previously coached Staples' freshman team, took over a program that graduated two Division I players from the 2011 FCIAC title squad.

The Wreckers did finish with a winning record last year (9-8-0-2), but they struggled to score goals. They suffered four 1-0 losses and were held to two goals or fewer in 16 of their 19 games.

Del Vecchio knows that production on offense needs to improve this fall.

"I remember having a lot of opportunities and we just weren't able to finish," said the 24-year-old Del Vecchio.

Staples boasts one of the FCIAC's top young goalkeepers in Jodie Baris, who started as a freshman last year and kept the Wreckers in almost all of their games.

While Staples may have been offensively challenged after graduating its top scorer (Misha Strage) from 2011, it allowed more than two goals in only three games. One of those games was a 7-0 defeat to Wilton in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

"She's doing very well," Del Vecchio said of Baris, who saved her best for last in 2012 as she registered 18 saves in Staples' 2-1 loss to eventual state champion Darien in the first round of the Class L state tournament.

Staples also should be solid on defense with the return of sophomores Elizabeth Bennewitz and Maggie Fair. Both saw significant playing time last season.

"Our goal is definitely to make it the FCIACs and states and just improve throughout the season," Del Vecchio said.

While Staples didn't produce any Division I players last season, it did graduate leading scorer Jackie Lawrence, along with forward Shelby Phares, midfielder Sami Bautista and defender Josie Fair.

In their place, Del Vecchio is looking toward senior forward Kathryn Leider and junior center-forward Jenna McNicholas to handle the bulk of the scoring. Senior midfielder Meghan Fox is also expected to contribute.

Leider and Fox will serve as the Wreckers' captains this season.

Del Vecchio also hopes to get some production from midfielder Meg Fay, a junior transfer from Northampton Academy in Massachusetts.

"It's a new team," Del Vecchio said, "so we have to get used to playing with each other."

The Wreckers open their season at home against Trumbull on Sept. 10 at 6 p.m.

Bob Birge is a freelance writer

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