Staples field hockey drops tough loss to unbeaten Wilton on Senior Day

The Staples field hockey team was full of energy on Senior Day, but the unbeaten Wilton proved too strong, and the girls dropped a tough 6-0 loss to the Warriors, who have won the state championship three out of the last three years.

Before the game there was the annual ceremony to recognize the seniors: flowers were given and photos taken while supporters cheered. Staples girls’ teams tend to go all out for this occasion. Friends of the seniors filled the stands with colorful signs and lots of energy.

John McNicholas, father of senior captain Jenna McNicholas, talked about what this day meant to him despite the tough competition.

“It’s nice to see the ten seniors all having their day at the end of the year,” McNicholas said. “They’ve all grown up together playing field hockey and…it’s a great group of girls.”

Unfortunately, Staples faced a talented opponent in the Warriors. An early push from Wilton left Staples with a 1-0 deficit just one minute into the game.

After the match, Coach Ashley DelVecchio, in her third year of coaching, said that goal had significant mental impact.

“Once they score, it just keeps going,” DelVecchio said. “[The Wreckers] kept playing, I just think we didn’t play as a team.”

The momentum shifted back and forth for a while, but steady offensive pressure led to a second Wilton goal about halfway through the period.

Staples didn’t back off: Jenna McNicholas ’15, Elizabeth Bennewitz ’15, and Meg Fay combined in offense while Maggie Fair ’15 led the defense in defying several Wilton attacks. But Wilton earned their second goal from a shot blasted by Kristen Godin off a penalty corner, and at halftime the score was 3-0.

The second period saw continued fight from the Wreckers (and the appearance of the boys’ water polo team, dressed in just Speedos despite the cold temperature). After 12 minutes of scoreless play, Wilton’s relentless offense broke through again to take their fourth goal.

Staples countered and picked up a penalty corner but could not convert. Then Wilton scored twice in two minutes, making it 6-0 with eight minutes left.

Staples fought on and nearly scored in the last three minutes, but the Warriors’ keeper proved solid, making saves with her hands and feet to hold the final score to 6-0.

Coach DelVecchio said after the game that mentality was definitely a factor in the loss.

“I think they see the name of the school, I think they know and have heard about players from the other team, and it breaks them down mentally,” DelVecchio said.

The loss hasn’t yet affected FCIAC standings. The Wreckers, now 8-3-0-1, are tied for points with New Canaan, but will hold fourth place because they defeated New Canaan last Friday in what DelVecchio described as “our best game of the season.”

Staples will play their last regular season game against Fairfield Ludlowe at Taft Field on Wednesday. A win will likely mean they hold as fourth in the FCIAC.