Newington senior field hockey captain Hailey Gaydos (right) and Glastonbury senior captain Alicia Choquette during a game on Sept. 27.
Newington head coach Veronica Grubin and her team set an offseason goal to make it to the state tournament this fall.
So far they are on pace to meet that goal after winning three of their first six games to start the season.
Despite suffering a 9-1 loss to powerhouse Glastonbury on Sept. 27, Grubin liked the fight in her team, which she said has been the case in every game this fall.
“This group has been with me a long time, both from the youth level up until now. They have just been working hard and marking the right connections,” stated Grubin, who has coached the varsity program since 2017. “We have a bunch of talented players and moving forward it’s just about figuring out how to put those pieces together.”
Mackenzie Hillman tallied the Nor’easters only goal, scoring early in the second half to narrow the deficit to 4-1 before the home team pulled away in the second half.
Glastonbury, who is a perennial Class L contender, was a great test for a program with aspirations of a state tourney trip.
Last fall, the team finished with six wins and was just on the outside looking in of the Class M state tournament. Over the previous four seasons the team combined for seven wins, so the arrow is definitely pointing upwards.
Seniors Hailey Gaydos, Juliette Corriveau, and Riley Sullivan are in the captain’s chair. Gaydos was a team captain a season ago, making all-conference as a junior, and Grubin said her returning star has been invaluable, both on and off the field.
“She has done it with style and grace and been that connection between me and the rest of the players,” Grubin said of Gaydos, who said all of her captains have stepped into the role without hesitation. “There are all different personality types and they make it work. They are hard workers, dedicated, and have a team-first mentality.”
Manning the backend is goalie Carly Leonard, a junior who started as a sophomore a season ago. Leonard faced an onslaught of shots against Glastonbury and made several impressive saves that kept the team in the game during the first half.
“She has worked extremely hard, here and in the offseason,” Grubin said of her second-year goalie. “I expect great things from her the rest of the season and next season.”
After allowing nine goals to Glastonbury, Leonard and the defense emphatically rebounded by shutting out Haddam-Killingworth (2-0) on Sept. 29. Hillman and Gaydos tallied the goals in the win.
Entering the week, the Nor’easters stand at 3-3 and have scored quality wins over E.O. Smith (4-0) and Lewis Mills (5-3). In the win over E.O. Smith, Hillman and Gaydos each tallied two goals and Hillman added two more in the win over Lewis Mills.
Grubin, who is in her sixth season at NHS, is optimistic that the program can get over the hump this fall and return to postseason play for the first time since 2016.
“We’re contenders this year. The goal is to make it to states and I think we can do it,” added Grubin. “We have really great, fundamentally good players. We just have to figure out how to put all the pieces together and generate offense because generating offense means winning games.”
The Nor’easters have a pivotal home game against Farmington this Friday, Oct. 7 at Clem Lemire Field Turf on New Britain Avenue. Action starts at 3:45 p.m.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin