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    Sunday, November 27, 2022

    Stonington field hockey tops Fitch 2-1 ... but it’s still early

    Stonington’s Katie Anbari (4) celebrates a goal with teammates during a field hockey game against Fitch on Tuesday at the Groton Middle School. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Fitch’s Ashleigh Holmes (2) attempts to move past Stonington’s defense during a field hockey game on Tuesday at the Groton Middle School. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Stonington goalie Madi Allard blocks a shot on goal during a field hockey game against Fitch on Tuesday at the Groton Middle School. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Groton — It was a 2-1 Stonington victory over Fitch on Tuesday, a rematch of last season’s Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament championship in which Fitch claimed its first such title in program history.

    But this was more of a Sept. 20 victory than it was any sort of revenge, especially since Stonington lost 10 seniors to graduation from last year’s team which reached the Class S state tournament championship game and replaced nearly all of them with sophomores.

    “It’s not even these kids,” Stonington coach Jenna Tucchio said, asked if the stinging 1-0 loss to Fitch last season played any factor Tuesday.

    “I never think about that. Like, we lost to East Lyme at the beginning of the (2020) season, I’m not like, ‘We need to avenge that loss.’ When we lost that game Sept. 9 or whatever it was, that is not where we were in October. I’d rather focus on the progress that we made. We have to play our best game every day, make improvements every day.”

    Stonington took a 2-0 lead in the second quarter, getting goals from Katie Anbari, assisted by fellow sophomore Anna Lettiere and from Lettiere unassisted on a rebound stemming from a penalty corner.

    Fitch pulled within 2-1 on a third-quarter goal by Izzy Ash, but Tucchio credited halfbacks Emma Spathakis on the left and Shay Burnside on the right for further curtailing the Fitch attack, as well as jump-starting the offense for the Bears.

    Stonington (3-1 overall, 3-0 ECC) had 10 penalty corners to 1 for Fitch and outshot the Falcons 10-4. Fitch is 3-1, 2-1.

    Anbari, who played junior varsity last season but was part of the Bears’ varsity roster during their state tournament run, called the 2021 season an “introduction.”

    “I’m a sophomore, so it’s been really hard for me to step up to varsity,” Anbari said. “I played on a travel team in the winter so that I could step up to varsity. I’m not used to being in this environment, so I’m just really excited.

    “We’re a brand new team so it’s hard for us to communicate right now, but we’re improving on it a lot. We had a pep talk beforehand, some words we need to be: intense, focused, hard-working, aggression to getting to the ball first. Overall, I think we showed that through our game.”

    Madi Allard made four saves to earn the victory. Fitch goalie Abriel Carey had five.

    Tucchio has said from the start that this Stonington team has the physical talent to be successful, it’s just a matter of gaining some experience. The Bears also have games this week against East Lyme on Thursday and Avon on Saturday as they continue to test themselves.

    “They’re starting to understand their roles on the field and now they’re starting to connect it to the players around them,” Tucchio said. “We’re a little hesitant. We’re a little unsure of ourselves there. They’ll get there. Right now they’re afraid to make mistakes, they’re afraid to do something that’s not right.

    “They’ll get over that.”

    Fitch coach Diane Kolnaski also has new players at several key positions due to graduation but called some moments of Tuesday’s matchup disappointing.

    “We played to their strong side, so we have to change that. We allowed them to take possession of the ball in the middle and then they had the big drives,” Kolnaski said. “That really hurt us. ... This wasn’t their game today. My team is always excited to play Stonington and also nervous to play Stonington.”


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