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Staples field hockey captures Class L state title

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Staples field hockey captures Class L state title

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By: Cooper Boardman ’17

 

The whistle shrieked as Darien’s Katie Elders ’19 crashed to the turf.

Staples defender Elle Fair ’19 sank down onto her knees, staring at the penalty spot. It was a familiar, horrific situation for the Wreckers. Staples had lost the FCIAC championship game on a penalty stroke in overtime to Wilton, and it seemed it was about to suffer the same fate in the state final.

But Elders stepped up and rifled a shot just to the left of the cage, and the Wreckers held on to preserve a 0-0 tie to capture their first state title in program history against the Blue Wave in the Class L Field Hockey State Championship game at Cottone Field in Wethersfield on Sat. morning.

“I think someone was looking down on us and saying, ‘stay with it.’” Ian Tapsall, Staples Field Hockey Head Coach, said.

Perhaps that someone was Jinny Parker, who founded the Staples’ field hockey program more than 45 years ago. After breaking each huddle, the Wreckers wave to the sky, paying homage to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Hall of Famer who championed girls sports during her 26 year tenure at Staples. It was Parker who roamed the sidelines the last time Staples appeared in a state final in 1974.

That Wrecker team fell 1-0 to Simsbury, but the 2016 group, a team that did not suffer a single loss in regulation, finally sealed the deal.

It did so against state power Darien, a Blue Wave team that won its sixth state championship in the last 11 years. It was the teams’ third meeting of the year—the first came on Oct. 13, a 1-1 tie and the second was another playoff overtime classic, a 2-1 victory for Staples in the FCIAC semifinal.

“[Darien] couldn’t have been a better team to play against in the state final. We both had chances,” Tapsall said.

Indeed it was a game of chances—late in the second half, the Wreckers had their best opportunity of the game as the ball rolled past Darien goalie Kallie Coughlin ’17 and settled a yard in front of the goal line.

Staples attacker Meg Johnson ’18 smacked it toward the cage, but defender Campbell Mathias ’17 dove in front of the rolling ball and somehow managed to keep it out. The Blue Wave would get their shot in the first half of a sudden death overtime period, but Wrecker goalie Bridget Mulloy ’19 made a pair of kick saves to keep Staples’ state championship hopes alive.

And of course, with 1:15 to go, Elders earned a penalty shot that was inches away from dashing those hopes.

Instead, the Wreckers capped off their best season in program history—a season in which they posted an undefeated regular season, outscored opponents 93-7 and recorded 15 shutouts—with a state title.

And amidst the chaos of the postgame celebration, Tapsall offered one final thought.

“Now we can actually put the plaque in the cabinet at Staples with ‘championship—state champions,’” he said.  “I mean, there’s nothing better than that. Nothing better than that.”

Photo by Shelley Burger, Graphic by Cooper Boardman ’17

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Staples field hockey captures Class L state title