With a post-season extending well into November, the Joel Barlow High field hockey team had a lot to smile about.
After easily disposing of eighth-ranked East Lyme in the first round of the state Class M state tournament last Friday, Nov. 9, in New London, Barlow ended its season with a loss to top-ranked Wilton in the quarterfinals on Monday.
Senior captain Gabrielle Fignar summed up the season as “unlike any other. I think more than ever, the girls were able to build great relationships with one another not only on the field but off the field too. In every game, I saw my team working their hardest; and as a captain, that’s all you can really ask for.”
Despite being the higher seed East Lyme proved to be no match for Barlow. The Falcons effortlessly scored two goals early on, with junior forwards Kerianne Gibney and Isabel Benedetto netting one a piece. Head coach Erika Profenno substituted liberally for the rest of the game, with several new faces taking the field, including sophomores Elaine Baulsir and Ryan Healey. At the end, Barlow won 5-2 with Gibney tallying four goals, Benedetto one and junior Marissa Johnson racking up three assists.
It was to be a different scenario on Monday against FCIAC powerhouse Wilton. The Warriors came out strong on their home turf, repeatedly challenging the Barlow net with an aggressive and well-orchestrated attack that used both their forward and midfield lines.
Barlow’s defensive line of seniors Rachel Lenihan and Colleen Yost and junior Whitney Carter, together with senior goalie Sam Scavo, thwarted the Warriors’ ambitions for the first 15 minutes. It was only then that Wilton breached the Falcons’ defensive wall and slid the ball over the line in the corner of the cage. Wilton scored again ten minutes later off a long drive taken from just inches within the top the circle.
Barlow stepped up its offense in the second half. Senior midfielders Courtney Granfors and Fignar continued to both block Wilton and send the ball up to the Barlow forward line. Although Wilton triple-teamed Granfors on the Barlow free hits, she remained poised and sent the ball sidewise to the center where freshman forward Emma Coppock waited.
A combined Falcon attack earned four corners in the last ten minutes of the game, but it would not be enough. With a few minutes remaining, Wilton renewed its effort, drove the ball down into Falcon territory and earned its final goal.
Barlow goalie and captain Sam Scavo was instrumental in putting the brakes on the Warrior onslaught, making a total of nine difficult saves. Scavo left the field optimistically, saying “we had no choice but to step it up this year, which is exactly what we did. We started off strong, never gave up, and played like we know how to play.”
Senior captain Yost said, “We played our hearts out this year.”
Barlow finishes the season at 11-7-2 overall.