Newtown High School’s field hockey team blanked visiting Brookfield 2-0 in a potentially crucial South-West Conference clash at Treadwell Park on October 10. Newtown and Brookfield are among the teams on the South-West Conference playoff qualification fringe and the Nighthawks bolstered their chances of qualifying for the eight-team tourney by ending a three-game mini-slide with the shutout.
The Nighthawks also improved their state tournament qualification hopes as they carried a 5-4-2-1 (wins, losses, ties, and overtime losses) overall record into an October 14 battle with unbeaten Lauralton Hall of Milford. The Nighthawks lost that game 2-0, but hung in there against one of the top teams in the conference.
Newtown, Brookfield (4-4-3-1), and Joel Barlow of Redding (6-4-1-0) are among the hungry conference teams competing to get into the postseason as the regular campaign winds down.
In the game on October 10, Newtown and Brookfield remained scoreless at halftime but the Hawks didn’t take long to grab the lead. Caroline Chocholak directed a feed from Erica Thill into the net off a penalty corner send from Julia Diluofo 10:14 into the second half.
The Nighthawks staved off the hard-fighting Bobcat squad, and Chocholak assisted Caroline Tanner with 7:11 to play, giving the Hawks some breathing room.
Newtown goaltender Casey Demers finished with five saves. Brookfield had a decisive 10-4 advantage in penalty corners but couldn’t penetrate the backline or Demers.
“It was pretty close. I just think, toward the end, we really got going — we got our momentum,” Chocholak said of her team logging a pair of second-half goals to put the game away.
The Nighthawks have grown accustomed to close games. Save for a 4-0 setback to New Fairfield and a 6-2 win over Watertown, every game has been decided by two goals or less. The Watertown outcome, in fact, is deceptive; the teams battled back and forth before Newtown registered four straight tallies to pull away.
This is a mostly new-look Newtown squad this fall, and players have stepped up and improved greatly in a short time.
“I think we’re doing well as a team,” said Chocholak, adding that passing and an ability to move the ball from the defense to the midfield on up to the offense has been key.
Newtown Coach Stephanie Paproski adds that quick ball movement, and players seeing each other for those passes, are keys to success that she hopes to see continue.
“We just need to keep up our momentum,” Paproski said. “I think we’re back on track.”
“I think we’re all working together really well,” Thill said. “We have a lot of potential and the games we win and play really well we see that potential we have.”
Barlow beat NHS in overtime in the first of two meetings this fall; the teams meet again in the regular-season finale on October 22. The Hawks earned a 2-2 tie with a tough of Pomperaug of Southbury team on October 16. Newtown will take on nonconference foe Ridgefield on October 19. Teams need to win 40 percent of their games to get into the state bracket.