Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Sports

Valley Field Hockey Off to Solid Start with Challenges Ahead

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Junior captain Abby Amara and the Valley Regional field hockey team notched a win and a tie to move to 1-0-1 to kick off their season last week. Amara was involved in numerous offensive plays to help the Warriors win their opening contest against Haddam-Killingworth, 6-0, on Oct. 6. File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier

Junior captain Abby Amara and the Valley Regional field hockey team notched a win and a tie to move to 1-0-1 to kick off their season last week. Amara was involved in numerous offensive plays to help the Warriors win their opening contest against Haddam-Killingworth, 6-0, on Oct. 6. (File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

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Junior captain Margaret Jacaruso notched a hat trick in the Warriors’ 6-0 win over Haddam-Killingworth on Oct. 6, and in the 1-1 tie versus Westbrook on Oct. 9, she scored Valley’s lone goal of the contest. File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier

Junior captain Margaret Jacaruso notched a hat trick in the Warriors’ 6-0 win over Haddam-Killingworth on Oct. 6, and in the 1-1 tie versus Westbrook on Oct. 9, she scored Valley’s lone goal of the contest. (File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

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Senior captain Grace Haskins and the Warriors have their work cut out for them next week when they will face North Branford and Old Saybrook, the two top teams in the Shoreline Conference in the season’s early goings. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain Grace Haskins and the Warriors have their work cut out for them next week when they will face North Branford and Old Saybrook, the two top teams in the Shoreline Conference in the season’s early goings. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

The Valley Regional field hockey squad is off to a strong start after playing two games to open its season last week. The Warriors went undefeated on the week notching a 6-0 road win against Haddam-Killingworth and a 1-1 tie versus Westbrook to stand at 1-0-1 on the season. Like nearly every team across the state, Head Coach Beth McCabe Powers’s squad is working its way into shape and integrating its new players at an accelerated rate.

On Oct. 6, the Warriors headed to Haddam-Killingworth to play the Cougars and picked up a 6-0 shutout victory. Even with the large margin of victory, Coach McCabe Powers believed that her squad could have had a better showing than it did.

“We played really well. We moved the ball pretty well. It was a combination of very good passing and cutting, but we did not take advantage all the opportunities to score that we could have,” said McCabe Powers. “The score should have been higher, but it’s hard to be mad at a 6-0 win. We had 23 corners so we should have scored more. It was a nice win to get your feet wet and build some confidence.”

Junior captain Margaret Jacaruso opened up the scoring with an unassisted goal. After that, sophomore Lily Grow put a ball in the back of the cage off an assist by junior captain Abby Amara. The Warriors third goal was scored by Amara off an assist from junior Mia Alio on a corner, and Valley’s fourth goal was also off a corner with Jacaruso scoring on an assist from senior captain Lauren Wiegman fed by Amara. Jacaruso grabbed a hat trick on the Warriors’ fifth goal with an assist from freshman Clara Shea, and Valley’s final goal was scored by Shea on another Amara assist.

While Jacaruso did rack up the goals, Coach McCabe Powers thought her squad showed enough offensive versatility to show they have more than just one scorer.

“Jacaruso is really aggressive in front of the goaltender. It’s scary to go in there, but she’s not afraid. She’s working hard on tipping and shooting around the goalie,” said Coach McCabe Powers. “She plays the up-field, floating position and doing a good job at it. She’s focused and determined to get the ball around the goalie, but the scoring was balanced enough that we don’t look like there’s only one person to score the ball. We have multiple finishers.”

Another major factor on offense for the Warriors was Amara. The junior was involved in several scoring plays that helped propel the Warriors’ offensive onslaught.

“Abby is always in nearly every everything. The last goal scored was a spectacular. Abby put it on a huge hit to the left post and Clara ran as fast as she could and tipped it in it was beautiful,” McCabe Powers said. “Abby is definitely our set-up person. She’s in all the time. We’re trying much harder this year to be a passing team than a dribbling one, but Abby’s ball handling is elite level, so it’s nice to fall back on that if we have to.”

Valley’s midfielders had a fantastic game as a whole. The Warriors prevented the ball from getting into the backfield for most of the game and goalie Fallyn Belisle only had to make one stop in the game.

“The defense barely had to touch the ball all game. Fallyn’s save was toward the end of the game, and it’s hard to turn your mind back on when you stand there for 50 minutes,” said McCabe Powers. “That was the strength of our midfield. Everyone was pushed way up. We were on the hard push all game long.”

On Oct. 9, Valley hosted Westbrook and the squads ended up with a 1-1 tie. While the game was evenly matched, Coach McCabe Powers thought the Warriors looked a bit flat after their lopsided win earlier in the week.

“It was up and down the field, and super competitive game. Our energy level was not appropriate. We were not bringing it. We managed the tie and not the loss. We had some people get carded, which was not awesome,” McCabe Powers said. “We had six shots on goal and so did they. This is one of these games where you cold flip a coin to see who was going to win.”

Westbrook opened up the scoring early with a first-quarter goal at 2:30. The score remained 1-0 going into the second half, but the Warriors would grab a goal in the third period at 10:25. Margaret Jacaruso got the ball past the keeper, unassisted. Perhaps the biggest bright spot for Valley was the play of Belisle in the cage.

“Westbrook had two saves, and Fallyn had six saves. I was tremendously proud at how Fallyn played in the final quarter and in overtime,” said McCabe Powers. “I knew she was capable, but I didn’t know how much she would stand up to that type of pressure. I was so happy that she played that well. Every coach is going to second guess a young goaltender in pressure situations like that. She was phenomenal.”

While Coach McCabe Powers would have preferred securing a victory against her sister, Westbrook Assistant Coach Emily McCabe Alger, the tie is better than the loss. The Warriors have a challenging week ahead of them, but it also looks like the future is bright thanks to some solid play from the JV squad.

“We’ll take the tie and walk away knowing the happiest person is my mother. We’ve got Morgan coming up next week, and I believe if we can play solid, we can beat them. Then we have North Branford and Saybrook after that. Against North Branford and Saybrook, it’s a matter of executing the game plan,” said McCabe Powers. “Some good news is that our JV squad won 5-0 against H-K. So the JV campaign is off to a good start, too. There’s a few kids there that could trickle up to us soon.”



Chris Negrini is the Assistant Sports Editor for Zip06. Email Chris at c.negrini@shorepublishing.com.

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