Wethersfield field hockey captains (l-r) Logan Lisella, Caroline Provost, Emily Messina, and Molly Bowers
Wethersfield field hockey took down Newington 4-0 at WHS, ending the regular season with another strong performance at Cottone Field.
Junior Sophia Nower scored a pair of goals and senior captain Logan Lisella dished out four assists.
It was the team’s second straight shutout after losing for the first time all year to Glastonbury (1-0) on Oct. 27.
“A loss can help us fix mistakes and we had a great game the next day and played our best game,” said Lisella, referring to a 6-0 victory over South Windsor on Oct. 28.
In the regular-season finale against Newington, sophomore Brynn Lisella, Logan’s younger sister, and junior Maddie Gove had goals in the four quarter to secure the team’s 15th victory in 16 tries.
“We’ve been stressing certain things in every game and we don’t want to change that. We want to communicate, we want to minimize our touches, and when we do that our game is so pretty,” said head coach Colleen Budaj.
Early on the visiting Nor’easters played tough defensively; limiting the home team’s scoring opportunities.
Nower broke through with a goal at the 6:16 mark of the second quarter after receiving a precise pass from Lisella.
Despite the goal, Budaj and her assistant coach/husband Steve Budaj gave the team some tough love at the half.
“We talked about playing our game. They had to play Wethersfield field hockey,” added [Colleen] Budaj, who said the team’s communication fell off after a few mistakes. “When we communicate it helps them make good field hockey decisions. Sometimes when they make a mistake on the field they get quieter and that’s when we need to communicate more, and that’s what we talked about at halftime.”
Captain Emily Messina added, “We have to have the desire to start strong and finish strong. We talked about having the want and making it our game. We wanted to trash the first half and focus on each 15 and win each 15. We upped the communication and the passing and it worked out. We had a couple of really good goals.”
Nower tallied her second goal less than five minutes into the third. [Brynn] Lisella scored six minutes into the fourth and Gove scored with less than five minutes left in regulation.
Captaining the team with [Logan] Lisella and Messina are Molly Bowers and Carolyn Provost.
Bowers said the captains are following in the footsteps of those before them, “We’ve all played all four years together. We’ve learned from the previous captains and all the girls are super nice. The younger girls are super respectful.”
“We’ve really tried to include everyone and let them know it’s a happy place and we’re all a family and I think that’s made a big difference on the field because we all try to work together and accomplish the same thing,” added Messina.
Messina is protecting the back end, helping goalie Julia Peacock, and teaming with first-year player Gabriella Tomaino.
“I definitely have a lot of help from Emily back there. I ask a lot of questions,” said a smiling Tomaino, who also plays softball and basketball at WHS. “I knew the environment was good. I knew a lot of the girls that were playing and ultimately a couple of girls inspired me to play. I did camp in the summer with the coaches and I ended up liking it.”
It’s an environment that the Budjas have built since first taking over the program in 2015. In 2014, the Eagles finished 1-14. In each of the last two full seasons (2019 and 2021) the Eagles have won 30 of 32 games.
“I love the climate and culture of this program and through the years how it’s become more competitive and now we’re at a place where we have to get into the tournament and we have to win these games,” said [Colleen] Budaj. “[The players] want to be a part of the program and they want to be here. They want to be with each other and they want to be better. This is an appreciative group, even when we are hard on them like we were at halftime today, they are still appreciative.”
Over 16 regular season games, the Eagles used an efficient offense and stout defense to outscore their opponents 56-3 this fall.
Peacock has been in goal for most of the season, but Veronica McKenna and Tess Parker have shared the duties this season.
Budaj said the goalies have made one another better, “Those three are pushing each other to be more vocal, to be more active, and to improve their ground game. I think it’s been good for Julia to have that competition. Tess and Veronica are right there with her as far as their skills developing and it’s been great for all three of them.”
The one glitch, the loss to Glastonbury, is now a distant memory for a team focused on a bigger goal.
“It taught us a lot about how we have to play in the tournament. We can’t play like that in the tournament and to make those fixes before we get to the tournament so we can actually makes ourselves better,” said Provost
Budaj added, “I believe they have the ability to make a run in the tournament and now they have to believe it.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin