MERIDEN — The 2019 area field hockey season defies easy summation. It was simply that unusual a campaign.
There were no deep postseason runs. Cheshire, traditionally the area’s top team, was in rebuilding mode, by its standards, and bowed out in the first round of the Class L state tournament.
And yet, at 10-7-0-1, the Rams still put up the area’s best record.
And yet Cheshire was not home to the area’s top player. That was Southington, where senior Jenna Sheehan was named All-State First Team for a second straight year.
Miss Sheehan was at the vanguard of a season that saw a combined 25 wins between Cheshire, Southington, Lyman Hall and Mark. T. Sheehan. There were three state tournament qualifiers and seven All-Conference players among our four teams. We’ve signed on 15 for our second annual All-Record-Journal Team.Lyman Hall
The Trojans had the area’s lowest winning percentage (3-11-1-1), yet featured arguably the area’s toughest player.
That would be Kaitlyn “K.K.” Nolan. The senior center-back continued to play this season despite breaking a finger that required several pins to surgically repair.
Next time you merely bruise a finger, grab a stick and try whacking something with it.
Opposing coaches took note of Nolan’s grit and overall play to vote her All-SCC Second Team.
Offensively, the Trojans were led by senior forward and captain Kyra Benzing-Plourde. She scored four goals and assisted on five.
The leading goal-scorer for LH was Grace Chappel. The junior knocked home seven goals in her first full season of varsity.
Nolan and Benzing-Plourde were named All-RJ. Chappel, an Athlete of the Week winner during the season, is All-RJ Honorable Mention.Sheehan
Two of the more entertaining affairs during the season were the Lyman Hall-Sheehan rivalry games. The TItans won both 1-0, and they won each time on goals by Sydney Rossacci.
Those tallies were two of 10 the sophomore scored on the season for Sheehan. Alas, for the Titans, they won’t have her services next year. Rossacci has transferred to Sacred Heart Academy. She takes All-RJ recognition with her.
Also named to the team were senior forward Kaylee Drobish and junior defender Dempsey Lajoie. Drobish scored four goals and assisted on seven others. Lajoie spearheaded a defense that notched five shutouts.
The Titans finished the regular season winning four of their last five to qualify for the Class M state tournament. The fell 3-0 to Pomperaug in the first round and closed at 6-8-2.Cheshire
After suffering heavy graduation losses from their 2018 Class L state runner-up team, the Rams regrouped around returning seniors Olivia Salamone, Kiley Jackson and Megan Daly.
All three wound up being named All-SCC. All three also wound up being named All-Record-Journal.
For Salamone, it was her second turn on the All-RJ stage. This fall, she scored four goals, collected six assists and was on the All-SCC First Team.
So was Jackson. She scored nine goals and set up four others. Daly, with six assists, was All-SCC Second-Team.
In goal, senior Ava Pulisciano stepped into the big shoes as a first-year starter and wound up ringing up seven shutouts.
Also named All-RJ was Raegan Bailey. The returning junior collected 10 goals and four assists.
Bottom line? It was a transition year in Cheshire and these Rams held their link in the legacy, going 10-6 in the regular season and returning to the postseason.
Cheshire fell to Daniel Hand in the SCC semifinals in a shootout and, in the Class L state tournarment, beat Fairfield Warde 3-2 in the qualifying round before falling to eventual state runner-up Darien 6-0 in the first round.
Looking ahead, the Rams have returning cornerstones in Bailey and junior forward Sophie Vagts, an All-SCC Second Team selection who scored 14 goals. Vagts was an RJ Athlete of the Week and All-RJ Honorable Mention.Southington
Over the past few seasons the Lady Knights have shifted from a defensive-oriented squad to one that pushes the attack.
The girls who fueled that transition are all here on the All-RJ team: seniors Jenna Sheehan, Emma Doran and Autumn Swain and junior Maggie Ritchie. Sheehan and Ritchie played up top, Doran and Swain in the midfield.
“Over the past few years it has been the solid play of the midfield (Emma and Autumn) that has given us a lot more scoring opportunities. Jenna and Maggie took all those opportunities and made us a stronger offensive team,” noted coach Erin Luddy.
Sheehan and Doran were All-Conference and All-RJ for a second straight year. The All-State honor was Sheehan’s third. (She was an Honorable Mention as a sophomore.)
Sheehan scored seven goals and pocketed eight assists in her final season. Ritchie’s 11 goals were the team high.
Doran finished with three goals and five assists. Both she and Swain, along with their two-way work in the midfield, were instrumental in Southington’s penalty corners.
“Usually the ball would go to one of them at the top of the circle and they would run the plays,” Luddy said.
Southington went 6-8-2 regular season, qualified for the Class L state tournament and lost 4-0 to New Milford in the qualifying round. Sheehan goes out as the program’s most decorated player.