Stonington field hockey looks in the mirror ... and likes what it sees in 8-0 quarterfinal win
Stonington — Jenna Tucchio, Stonington High School's field hockey coach, will oftentimes hear her players asking what an upcoming opponent does well.
Earlier this week, Tucchio turned it around on them.
"We talked about playing confident," Tucchio said. "I want the kids to believe in what they're doing. I had them talk about what they're proud of, what they're confident in. Tell me, 'I'm a good ballhandler. I'm a good shooter.' Look at themselves and appreciate what they've done."
On Thursday, Stonington played with confidence, for certain.
The fourth-seeded Bears blanked No. 12 Lewis Mills 8-0 in the quarterfinal round of the Class S state tournament, advancing Stonington to the semifinals to meet No. 1 North Branford next Tuesday or Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
Stonington (17-3) beat No. 13 Haddam-Killingworth 2-0 earlier in the week, while the Spartans advanced past the first round with a 1-0 victory over No. 5 Northwestern Regional. Lewis Mills, however, plays its home games on grass, which put it at a disadvantage when it hit Stonington's turf field against a team that's used to a run-and-gun style of play.
The Bears scored twice in the first 12 minutes, 6 seconds and led 5-0 by halftime. Stonington outshot Lewis Mills 35-3, getting four goals from Miranda Arruda. Hannah Pratt had two goals and an assist, Trinity Lennon a goal and an assist and Casey Boumenot added a goal. Erin Craig finished with two assists.
Arruda, who leads Stonington with 23 goals, scored her first on a reverse stick 5:59 into the game on a penalty corner. Craig stopped the ball on the insert pass and fed it to Arruda.
Tucchio called a timeout a few minutes later to talk to her team about how to attack the Spartans, urging the Bears to keep up their pace and to use the middle of the field if it was available.
"I told them to play our game. Play our high-speed game," Tucchio said.
Arruda scored again, assisted by Pratt, to make the score 2-0. Lennon followed, assisted by Craig on another corner, to push the margin to 3-0. Arruda's third goal of the half, a rebound off her own shot, made it 4-0 and Boumenot connected with 2:34 to play in the half.
Lewis Mills starting goalie Ellie Martin made 25 saves.
"We know whoever we play, we're going to beat. That's how we go into it," Arruda said of the mentality the Bears take heading into a game. "We build off of momentum. When we have one goal, we're going to go for two. And seeing Colette (Dreher, center back) preventing them from getting goals, gives us the mometum to get goals."
Arruda, who is left-handed, said that might make it easier for her to hit the ball with a reverse stick, the way she did twice for goals Thursday.
"When I first started, I thought, 'Is this a right-handed sport?'" Arruda said with a smile.
"She's really driven," Tucchio said of Arruda, a junior. "She's super-focused. She wants to do everything to the 'nth' degree. She's not, like, 'Let's try this out.' She's, like, 'Go!' ... How many goals did she score today? Four? She'll probably find something wrong with each of those goals and fix it."
Stonington is making its second straight trip to the semis, falling last year to H-K. The Bears will be looking for their first trip to the finals since making back-to-back appearances in 2012 and 2013.
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