WINSTED - With an opportunity to reclaim first place in the Berkshire League field hockey standings with one game remaining in the regular season, Thomaston High School did not waste it. At Northwestern on November 4, the Golden Bears easily defeated the last-place Highlanders, 3-0 to improve to 8-1-0-0, technically in a tie with Litchfield High School, but in first because they defeated the Cowboys in their first meeting of the season on October 24. However, that tie would not last long, as the league title was on the line when the Bears clashed with Litchfield on November 6, which had the added drama of being Senior Day at THS.
Against NW, goals by Hannah Laone on a penalty corner, Kaya Johnson, and McKenna O’Sullivan powered the Bears, who improved to 10-4-0-0, the first B.L. team to crack the double-digit win column.
“We played very well defensively, and our midfielders were great on both sides of the ball,” said THS coach John Long.
In terms of sheer numbers, the match between the Golden Bears and Danbury High School on November 1 was between David and Goliath.
Whether or not the Bears brought a slingshot is not known, but the Bears surely did bring the Hatters down with a huge thud, as they came away with a 1-0 win on Danbury’s Senior Night.
“This is an impressive feat for our team, as we have 428 students compared to Danbury’s 3040,” said coach Long after the taking down the largest high school in Connecticut at the Danbury Sports Dome.
Kristen Foell scored on a corner off of passes from Kaylee Falter and Laone for the lone goal of the afternoon; Gianna Misenti shut down Danbury in goal as THS improved to 9-4-0-0.
Thomaston allowed Danbury into their circle only three times and allowed one corner while they drew eight corners and scored on one.
The story of the game, however, was the excellent defensive layers the team created to keep Danbury mostly in their own end.
The defense of Olivia Thier, Kaylee Falter, Marissa VanOrmer, and Ellie Marble were in shut-down mode, and the midfielders (McKenzie Fairfax, Emma Sanson, Johnson, Ariana Komonaj, and Kristen Foell) all played responsibly by getting back quickly on the weak side to shut off any options for Danbury.
“Our forwards (Alexa Kowalski, Hannah Laone, Aurelia Barker, and McKenna O’Sullivan) helped on both sides of the ball transitioning defense into offense well,” said Long, who also pointed out that the Bears “adjusted to the speed of the turf and worked hard to take away any attempts at fast breaks that Danbury pursued.
“This is a big week for us,” said Long. “We need wins in both our remaining games to secure a (Berkshire League) title.”
No sooner had the Golden Bears taken over the top spot in the league than it slipped away from them, as did their undefetaed league record.
The Bears lost 1-0 to Wamogo in miserable conditions at Wamogo’s field on October 29.
“We simply couldn’t finish on multiple opportunities and, quite literally, missed scoring by inches on several occasions,” said Long.
Long gave credit where it was due.
“Wamogo played a very good game and were extremely solid defensively,” he said.
Looking to put the defeat quickly behind him and the team, Long said, “While we we are very disappointed, this loss in no way changes our goal of winning the league, and regardless, we’ll have to beat Litchfield again to guarantee a title.”
So do accomplish that, Long set the bar.
“Our focus is on winning our remaining games and, more importantly, finding our scoring touch again before our battle with Litchfield.
“This is exactly the kind of challenge we need right now to motivate us,” Long continued. “I feel we’ve played a very tough schedule, by choice, as we need experience against strong teams.
“Ultimately, I think this experience playing huge schools and strong programs will make us better.”