Published October 22. 2011 8:43PM Updated October 29. 2011 1:22AM
The Fitch High School field hockey team won't be a member of the Eastern Connecticut Conference until next year, due to scheduling difficulties with two of the league's schools. That means the Falcons, in their first varsity season, aren't eligible for all-conference honors.
But coach Diane Kolnaski keeps urging her team to make history anyway.
"We're not in the ECC, but let's try to be important enough to belong there," she told them. "… The games (against ECC teams) don't count in the big picture, but what statement would that make if you hung in there and battled every game?"
The Falcons (6-4-1) got a pair of second-half goals from Joanie Haling to beat Chariho 2-0 Friday afternoon and qualify for the Class M state tournament.
That means the three seniors, Haling (the leading scorer), fullback Anna Hermann and midfielder Liz Nolan will be ending their careers in the state tournament, after not being assured they would even get to play varsity field hockey until the team and then the funding were approved earlier this year.
The Falcons, who competed for two seasons a club team, played their first varsity game Sept. 13, falling to Waterford 3-2. They played their first home game Sept. 16 and picked up the first win in program history, 6-2 over Norwich Free Academy.
"Joanie's going to give you every drop of blood she has in her," Kolnaski said. "Liz runs the midfield and Anna guards that 25 (yard-line). It's funny, we have three seniors and they're in three strategic positions.
"I told them, 'You've got to be a team. Derive your strength from each other. It takes every one of you.'"
Kolnaski got a little weepy on Friday as she was congratulated by friends and family members who came to Chariho to watch and then began to talk about her team.
"I'm teary-eyed," she said. "I told them, 'Here's your chance to make history for Fitch.' It makes a statement for us as a team."