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Senior co-captain defender Emily Torre is one of several veteran players who’s leading the Guilford field hockey team, which has started the 2018 season with a stellar mark of 8-1-1. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Hannah Tillier and her fellow forwards are propelling the offense for the Indians’ field hockey squad this fall. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Janie Danaher is using her experience to hold things down as a midfielder with the Guilford field hockey team this year. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The Guilford field hockey team features a close-knit roster of experienced athletes on every end of the turf this fall. As a result, the Indians are in the midst of a superb year and look to be on the fast track toward another prosperous postseason. After picking up three wins last week, Guilford has an overall record of 8-1-1 and has clinched a berth in the Class M State Tournament.
Last fall, the Indians finished with an overall record of 16-4-1 after reaching the semifinals of both the SCC and Class M State tournaments. Following a loss to Stonington in its 2018 season opener, Guilford had a great September that saw the squad notch five wins and a tie. The Indians kept their momentum rolling last week by blanking North Haven 5-0 on Oct. 3, earning a 6-2 victory versus Sheehan on Oct. 5, and then upending Enfield by a 3-1 score in a non-conference game on Oct. 6. Guilford qualified for states with the Sheehan win.
Head Coach Kitty Palmer said that Guilford’s 1-1 tie against defending SCC and Class M state champion Hand on Sept. 26 proved a pivotal moment for her club.
“We really have athleticism and speed at every position. They’ve been working hard with passing quickly, getting the ball up the field, and converting goals in the circle,” said Palmer. “We had a lot of good chances against Hand, which has been our best game so far this year. We’re very much a team this year with a lot of stars.”
Veterans defenders Mariah Cretella and Emily Torre are serving as Guilford’s senior captains this fall. Coach Palmer said that both athletes are well-versed in the program’s great expectations and are doing an excellent job of fostering camaraderie on the squad.
“Emily takes a lot of our corners and has a good drive. They both know how the team chemistry should work here,” Palmer said. “Both of them have a lot of experience and are inclusive with all the girls. They don’t feel like they are bigger than anyone.”
In terms of the attack, the Indians are deploying a terrific trio of forwards with senior Celia Mariconda playing on the left, junior Ella Stanley on right, and sophomore Hannah Tillier in the middle. Senior Janie Danaher is holding things down at the midfielder’s position, while freshman Maddie Epke is displaying her versatility by doubling as both a forward and a midfielder, Meanwhile, sophomore goalie Eve Young is providing a steady presence in the cage during her first varsity campaign.
“Our forwards have been doing well. Hannah is unselfish and has brought the ball downfield a lot for us. Her work doesn’t go unnoticed,” Coach Palmer said. “Ella and Celia bring us a lot of scoring and experience for our forwards. Janie has been a great player here for four years. Maddie has fit in with her speed, and Eve really stepped up for us in that Hand game after allowing that first goal.”
Mariconda and Tillier both scored four goals for the Indians between their three victories last week. Guilford was further spurred by one goal apiece from Torre, Danaher, junior midfielders Jamie Neleber and Nicole Auger, sophomore midfielder Madden Cunningham, and junior forward Ava Bucci.
In addition to the tie versus Hand, Coach Palmer also noted a 5-0 victory versus non-conference opponent Glastonbury on Sept. 29 as a key moment in her team’s season. The Indians have a tough road in front of them with a second-half schedule that’s loaded with top-notch SCC foes. Still, Palmer said that Guilford is ready to face every challenge head-on, while continuing to fine-tune all aspects of its game.
“It was a wake-up after that first loss, but I think the Hand game turned the corner for us. I was pleased that we played well against Glastonbury, because they’re a good program. We start a streak of games against good teams the rest of the way, too,” said Palmer. “We have to work on our defensive corners. Stonington scored a couple on us. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we’ve performed very well.”
From the Sidelines
Kitty Palmer is in her 37th season as the head coach of the Guilford field hockey team.
The Indians’ assistant coaches are JV Head Coach Kiernan Willis, freshman Head Coach Ben Willis, and volunteer coach Tara Slowik.
In Guilford’s five wins in September, the Indians outscored their opponents by a combined total of 23-0.
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