'Fantastic Four' set to lead Staples back into FCIAC playoffs
Updated 3:07 pm, Thursday, October 23, 2014
Staples girls soccer coach Barry Beattie always believed there was untapped potential in his team over the last several seasons despite what the end results showed.
As an assistant over the previous two years and in his first season as head coach, Beattie developed a relationship with his current crop of seniors while the team hovered around the .500 mark.
For Maggie Walsh, Lauren Garcia, Chloe Rosenfield and Meg Root -- four seniors who made the team as freshmen and will continue their careers in college -- it's a journey they want to cap with a pair of deep postseason runs.
Staples (10-2-4) will embark on its quest for postseason hardware on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the FCIAC tournament. Soon after, the Wreckers will take part in the Class LL tournament.
"This is the first group that will be leaving that I know from when I first came in," Beattie said. "It's going to be sad to see them go because they're great players. As kids their personalities; they've grown up a lot but as players I feel they've been great players since day one."
Walsh, Garcia, Rosenfield and Root all grew up in Westport and have played together since at least nine years old. Walsh and Rosenfield are tough-tackling midfielders that make the occasional venture forward. Root is a rock in defense with the penchant for coming up with goals on corner kicks. Garcia is a creative maestro who usually delivers pinpoint crosses and corner kicks.
More InformationFact box
"I didn't think freshmen made varsity at all," Root said. "So I distinctly remember being at tryouts hoping for one moment I'd make varsity; I was shocked."
Freshmen at the time, Walsh, Garcia, Rosenfield and Root were part of a memorable run through the Class LL state tournament as a No. 20 seed. They reached the semifinals and met Glastonbury, who prevailed on penalty kicks.
Staples led 1-0 with 15 minutes left, but Glastonbury tied the game and broke the Wreckers' glass slippers.
"We had done so many (penalties) that season we had just won a game on (penalties against Shelton in the second round)," Rosenfield recalled. Then we went there and we just couldn't pull it together. We want to make up for that this year."
"It took a month to get over but that's something you never forget," Root added.
The Wreckers failed to qualify for FCIACs the last two years and went one-and-done in the state tournament, making this season's success all the more surprising.
"I think the reason is the belief that we can do it," Garcia said. "This year we have more belief that we can get far and we believe each other. We're close as a team like we were in our freshman year. We're family."
With little hype about the team headed into the fall, the quartet was quietly confident early in the season when tryouts were capped by an undefeated preseason.
"We knew in tryouts; when you see that kind of individual talent on the field," Root said. "Once we started practice and preseason it all merged together."
The Wreckers jumped out to a 7-0-1 start this year that propelled them into a comfortable FCIAC playoff spot.
The seniors credit Beattie for the change in attitude among the camp. A number of young players have made vital contributions to the team's success, just like the current seniors did as freshmen.
"We're inviting to everyone," Walsh said. "We make everyone feel like part of the team. Everyone's come in really well; I don't think anyone's felt (left out)."