With increased success comes raised expectations for the Stamford-Westhill-Staples co-op girls ice hockey team. It's a challenge for a team -- just four years into its existences -- is ready to embrace.

Stamford co-head coach Phil Miolene has thrown down the gauntlet and wants the team to accomplish another first -- a winning record. It's quite the goal given the team won three games in its first two seasons and went 6-10 last year.

"We want to have more than a winning record," said Miolene, who will lead the team along with Eli Williams. "We want to definitely be in the FCIAC playoffs and go as far as we can in states. We want to win more."

There is reason to set the goal that high for Stamford, which returns two of the most dangerous players in the league in Westhill's Cassie Miolene and Staples' Meg Fay. Miolene will center the top line while Fay will play defense. Fay was moved to defense through injuries to others, and, with increased depth this year, the position could be moved again.

`(Fay) brings tremendous defensive capability with a solid offensive threat and leadership," Phil Miolene said. "Last year it was more necessary, but now that we have more talent coming we can see how it goes; we can be more flexible."

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Staples sophomore Claire Parry will be the goalie this season. Parry playing time towards the end of last season and has extensive experience on the club circuit.

"She's outstanding; she's going to be very solid for us this year," Miolene said. "She's athletic and is going to fill a role well for us."

Claire Miolene (Westhill), Jess Mezias (Westhill) and Rachel Stanford (Staples) will also contribute, as well as Kyra DalBello (Staples) and Steph Walsh (Stamford).

Stamford opened the season with a 7-5 win over Trumbull on Wednesday, and will get another challenge Saturday against Fairfield co-op. Stamford faces off with FCIAC powers Darien and New Canaan twice each this winter.

"We want to be a hard-working, balanced team," Phil Miolene said. "We want to start to balance our strategy more than last season, seeing as we have more experience. They are coachable, good listeners and have good chemistry."