By Eliot Schickler

Three Staples field hockey players recently signed letters of intent to play in college.

Emily Ashken, Callie Hiner and Misha Strage led Staples to its first FCIAC title since 1994 this past fall, and hope to bring what they learned in Westport to the University of Michigan, Georgetown University and Colby College, respectively.

Lady Wrecker coach Cecily Anderson is confident that her former players, who all served as captains, will excel at the next level.

"If there are any three girls [capable of playing in college], these are the girls who can," Anderson said. "They have the big drive, and got everyone motivated. They made their mark on Staples field hockey, and got everyone ready to play. I'm excited for them. They learned how to be leaders and follow as well. I have no doubt they will be a huge success."

During the signing ceremony, Anderson waxed about her athletes being fearless princesses and warrior princesses.

Before becoming the varsity coach in 2009, she coached the undefeated freshman team in 2008. Anderson remembered feeling at ease when she took over as varsity coach because her charges from the freshman team would be on varsity for the next three years (2009-11).

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Her former players, in turn, valued their experience playing for the Lady Wreckers.

Hiner said she couldn't have asked for a better season and high school experience.

Ashken expressed her gratefulness for the support her team received from its fans. She continued and said, their success wouldn't have been possible without the support.

Strage thanked everyone for four amazing years, and was thankful to be at the signing ceremony.

Although the three former Staples captains were recruited to play in college, and they all want to play at the next level, it will still be a challenge for them. Anderson played field hockey at Syracuse University, and thought about quitting because it was much more rigorous than high school field hockey.

When she had that thought, Anderson told her father, who briefly played lacrosse at Penn State University, but quit. A regret he shared with her during their conversation was quitting lacrosse, and she told her former players that she knew they could handle the greater intensity of college field hockey.

Hiner epitomized versatility for the Lady Wreckers. She was a forward, midfielder and defensive player for them, and hopes this serves her well at Georgetown, which she chose, because of its location in Washington D.C., and learn from very influential people.

"From the moment I stepped on campus, I knew it was the school for me, and I fell in love with it," Hiner said.

At Georgetown, she plans on attending Hoya basketball games.

Ashken was a center midfielder who made things happen for Staples. At Michigan, she will be playing for former U.S. Olympian Marcia Pankratz.

"It's such an amazing school," Ashken said. "I have the opportunity to combine athletics with academics. At Michigan, you think Big 10. The coach and academics are amazing."

Although Ashken isn't counting on following in Pankratz's footsteps, she plans on working hard, and setting her sights on attaining success.

"I'm very lucky to have an opportunity to play there," Ashken said. "It will take time, but I hope my hard work will pay off. Never say never, I'll make the most of my opportunities, and be the best I can be."

Strage was offensive sparkplug for the Lady Wreckers, and is looking forward to playing for Colby. Her father is a Colby alumnus, which played a role in decision to head over to Waterville, Maine. Her visit to the campus cemented her choice.

"The team was wonderful," Strage said. "I'm looking forward to play there, and be a part of the team."