Surprised Lady Wreckers qualify for FCIACs, face Darien today
Much to the surprise of everyone involved, things that appear to be too good to be true can turn into reality. Take the Staples field hockey team as a prime example. Staples was mired in a 1-5-1 record and one of its captains talked about building the program towards the future. Any talk about the Lady Wreckers qualifying for the FCIAC tournament seemed unrealistic and their chances of qualify for the Class L tournament was remote at best.
But lo and behold, Staples picked up its play and by splitting its final two games, coupled with the tiebreaking system, it qualified for the Class L tournament and snagged the last FCIAC playoff berth.
"It feels fantastic and I`m glad to see them step up to the plate," said Lady Wreckers coach Cecily Cowburn. "It shows how much of a team we`ve become. I feel the team has grown and we developed our own unique style. There`s camaraderie among the girls."
Staples finished the regular season at 5-8-1-1, 5-6-1-1 in the FCIAC after beating Trumbull 2-1 at home last Friday and losing 6-0 at home to first place Darien on Tuesday. The Lady Wreckers finished with 12 points, tied for the eighth and final spot with Fairfield Ludlowe (4-5-3-1), but in the end, they edged out the Falcons.
"I think it`s amazing we are in," said Staples senior captain Kat Strage. "It`s a shock because we thought our record wouldn`t get us in."
Lady Wrecker senior captain Lucy Goss said, "It was kind of unexpected. None of us expected to make FCIACs but it shows that every game counts and we work hard in every game."
Staples outplayed Trumbull in its victory, which it expected to do, outshooting the Eagles 8-3 to go with an 8-4 penalty corners advantage. Two minutes into the game, sophomore Misha Strage gave the Lady Wreckers a 1-0 but Trumbull tied it 1-1 with 8:35 left in regulation.
"Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves not to get complacent," said Cowburn. "When Trumbull tied it, we saw we needed to wake up."
And Staples woke up with a vengeance. With 1:28 to go, senior captain Amanda Stewart scored from Misha Strage to give the Lady Wreckers the win.
"Misha sent me a good pass and I was able to shoot it to the left of the goalie`s feet," said Stewart.
Having a couple of almosts fueled Stewart down the home stretch. She hit the post on one shot and had a goal disallowed because the referee called a corner on another.
"I was frustrated," said Stewart.
Junior goalie Jen Hoets made two saves for Staples. Goss and Kat Strage controlled the midfield and senior Venetia Stanley and juniors Elizabeth Driscoll and Erica Gendell played well defensively for the Lady Wreckers.
Against Darien, Staples held the Blue Wave scoreless for almost 18 minutes and trailed 2-0 at the half, but in the end, Darien was just too dominant and broke it open in the second half. The Blue Wave outshot the Lady Wreckers, 21-2, and had a 9-5 penalty corners advantage. Hoets made 12 saves.
When the two teams played in Darien Sept. 18, the Blue Wave won, 5-0.
"I feel that we played better than the first time," said Cowburn. "We seemed more together and played like an actual team [on Tuesday]."
Ironically, Staples will play top-seeded Darien today in the FCIAC quarterfinals at 3 p.m.
"When we play them Friday [today], we`ll play them smarter and try to get more shots," said Cowburn. "Our goal is to get a goal against Darien."
Although Darien the prohibitive favorite, this game could have an upside for the Lady Wreckers as far as future development goes.
"We`re the obvious underdog and our goal is to give them a better game than last time and the time before that," said Goss. "It`s a good experience for our team and we`ll switch up our strategy."
Stewart said, "Playing Darien is good for us because they`ll challenge us. We`ll try to think of new strategies."
Kat Strage said, "Playing Darien for a third time we`ll be tough but even if we don`t win, we`ll learn from it. We played them scoreless for almost 20 minutes but we got hungry and our play deteriorated. We hope to stay with our mark and challenge them. If we give them a good game, we`re happy."