Valley Takes 2-1 Loss to North Branford in Shoreline Final
Senior captain Abby Amara and the Valley Regional field hockey squad gave North Branford everything it could handle in taking a 2-1 defeat to the Thunderbirds in the Shoreline Conference final at the Indian River Complex on Nov. 4. (Photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)
Senior captain Grace Haskins (left) and the Warriors lost to North Branford in the title game of the Shoreline Conference Tournament, but are still sporting an excellent record of 16-1-1 as they open play in states this week. (Photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)
Featuring a roster full of senior leaders, the Valley Regional field hockey team is enjoying a great season that featured an appearance in the Shoreline Conference championship game last week. Although the Warriors lost to North Branford in the contest, Head Coach Beth McCabe Powers is hoping that loss will give the Warriors extra motivation as they enter the Class S State Tournament.
Top-seeded Valley Regional faced No. 2 seed North Branford in the Shoreline Conference Tournament final at the Indian River Complex in Clinton on Nov. 4. North Branford edged out the Warriors by the score of 2-1 to win the conference title for the fifth-straight season. Valley moved to 16-1-1 overall after taking its first defeat of the year.
The Warriors had earned a 1-0 win and a 1-1 tie against North Branford during the regular season. Heading into round three, Coach McCabe Powers was expecting another tightly contested battle between the two rivals.
“Everyone was very upbeat. We weren’t looking past it in any way. We were just excited to play,” McCabe Powers said. “Everyone knew it was going to be a tough game. We played two really tough games against North Branford this year. Everyone’s head was in the appropriate space.”
Valley netted the first score of the game on a goal by senior Mia Alio with 2:13 remaining in the first half. The Warriors took their 1-0 advantage into halftime. However, North Branford rallied to score a pair of goals after the break and then held on for the 2-1 win to defend its Shoreline title.
“They outscored us by two exceptional goals. It wasn’t weak play on our part. They just scored two strong goals. Our defense played outstanding,” said McCabe Powers. “We didn’t capitalize on some opportunities we had, but it was a phenomenal game. They played really well. It was just an excellent game.”
Prior to facing North Branford, Valley claimed a 9-0 victory over No. 4 seed Westbrook-Old Lyme in the Shoreline semifinals at the Indian River Complex. Senior captains Abby Amara and Margaret Jacaruso both scored two goals for the Warriors, as did freshman Lilly Lavigne. Amara also had two assists. Senior captain Brooke Lavigne, Alio, and sophomore Clara Shea added one goal apiece in the win. Senior Grace Haskins and junior Lily Grow each had one assist.
“We played really, really well,” McCabe Powers said. “Westbrook played well in the first half, but we were able to outwork them in the end.”
Valley’s senior captains are Amara, Jacaruso, Lavigne, Haskins, and Reagan Fergueson. Amara was recently selected as the Shoreline Conference Player of the Year. The Warriors’ senior class also features Alio, Ellie Rybicki-Domler, Caroline Haskins, Paige Lombardi, Emily Kateley, and Chelsea Wadle. Coach McCabe Powers feels that camaraderie of the seniors and their experience playing together is having a big impact on Valley’s success this season.
“We’re a very senior-laden team. They have been working together for a very long time. They have a unique cohesiveness that you don’t have with a lot of teams,” said McCabe Powers. “They’ve played together for so long, and so many of the seniors start.”
In addition to the results on the field, McCabe Powers credits this year’s senior class for continuing to build the foundation of the Valley field hockey program. McCabe Powers said it’s been a long process and that the work ethic of her seniors will pay dividends for the Warriors in future campaigns.
“They’re very important on the field. Their hard work and dedication to the sport over the last four years allowed us to have a tremendously successful year this year,” McCabe Powers said. “I hope that it will build the program moving forward and continue to perpetuate exceptional players. They’ve set a fantastic example work ethic wise.”
McCabe Powers wants her squad to use the loss in the Shoreline final as a motivation tool heading into states. Valley’s coach is hoping the Warriors will be able to find their second gear in the Class S State Tournament and continue reaching for the goals they set at the beginning of the season.
“It’s an excellent reminder to continue to work hard every day to try to obtain the goals you’ve set. It’s a great springboard to find the extra fire within to make a fantastic run in the State Tournament,” said McCabe Powers. “It was disappointing to lose in the Conference Tournament, but I’m hopeful it’s the extra motivation they need to make a run to the end of the State Tournament.”
Valley is the No. 1 seed in the Class S bracket and hosted the winner of No. 16 Wamogo and No. 17 Nonnewaug in the first round on Nov. 9 (after press time). With a win, Valley would host the winner of No. 8 Granby and No. 9 Watertown in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Nov. 11. Semifinals are on Tuesday, Nov. 16 and Wednesday, Nov. 17, and the Class S state final takes place at Wethersfield High School on Saturday, Nov. 20.
In order for the Warriors to be successful in states, Coach McCabe Powers said that the team needs to keep working hard and focus on the things that have made them shine all season long.
“Of course, we would like to be playing on Nov. 20, but the top of the bracket that we’re in is exceptionally skilled teams,” McCabe Powers said. “Hard work, continued excellent defense, and working together as a team, which we have all season, is going to ultimately underscore a successful tournament to come. We just have to keep focused on the prize at the end.”
The Valley Regional field hockey team’s roster features senior captains Abby Amara, Reagan Fergueson, Grace Haskins, Margaret Jacaruso, and Brooke Lavigne; seniors Ellie Rybicki-Domler, Caroline Haskins, Mia Alio, Paige Lombardi, Emily Kateley, and Chelsea Wadle; juniors Lily Grow, Fallyn Belisle, Callie Bretienbach, Madeline Rice, Samantha Brookhart-Bardelli, Ashley Cap, Mykenzie Parker, Allison Safran, Samara Shankar, and Isabella Siegel; sophomores Madeline Siegel, Clara Shea, Abby Reardon, and Charlotte Jacobson; and freshmen Lilly Lavigne, Laura Gessner, Charlotte Kronholm, Alessia Pisanzio, and Lucy Resnisky.