MILFORD — For much of its October 25 visit to top-seeded Lauralton Hall, it looked as if Newtown High School’s field hockey team was going to do something no other squad has managed to do this fall — defeat the Crusaders. The eighth-seeded Nighthawks, however, couldn’t hang onto a late 1-0 lead and fell 2-1 to the hosts in their South-West Conference Tournament quarterfinal round clash on a chilly late afternoon.
Lauralton scored twice just 3:41 apart late in the second half to escape and advance. The Nighthawks will have to wait for the start of state tournament play to get back to meaningful game business following this tough defeat.
Newtown’s Caroline Chocolak broke a scoreless deadlock with just 13 seconds left in the opening half with a goal assisted by Brianna Sclafani, and that lead stood until Lauralton’s Beth Camonte cashed in on her team’s 17th shot of the game, off its 22nd penalty corner, with 11:47 to go in regulation. Before Newtown could recover, the Crusaders took the lead when Mo Connolly put one home off yet another penalty corner setup, with 8:06 remaining.
The Crusaders finished with an overwhelmingly decisive 31-2 advantage in penalty corners and a 22-3 edge in shots toward the goal. Attribute much of those lopsided numbers to Lauralton’s ability and pressure, along with Newtown’s defenders blocking shots and passes with their feet inside the shooting circle. But the Nighthawks seemed surprised so many calls went against them. Giving up maybe ten or a dozen penalty corners a game has been fairly common, but 31 was far and away the most Newtown has surrendered this fall.
“It was very intense,” said Newtown goaltender Casey Demers, who kept her team in the game with numerous saves (14 of them to be exact) and kickaways to relieve pressure. “That’s a lot of pressure on our defense but I think we handled it well.”
Demers also handled Lauralton’s offensive assault well throughout the contest.
“She played very well — our goalie was on fire, she had great clears,” Newtown Coach Stephanie Paproski said.
It just wasn’t enough this time around, but the Nighthawks, who posted a regular-season record of 6-6-3-1 (wins, losses, ties, and overtime losses), proved they can hang with the best. Lauralton, after all, went 15-0-1 this fall.
The Nighthawks hope to prove a thing or two in the state tournament, which will get started in early November.
“I think we can go very far in states. We’ve improved a lot this season,” Demers said.
“I think it will be fun. It will be something exciting to see,” Paproski added.