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Field Hockey Team Looking For Collective Effort To Lead Offense



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With the graduation of record-setting goal- and point-getter Katie Goyda, Newtown High School’s field hockey team will look to a group of forwards to combine in hitting the back of the cage and continue the program’s success in 2021.

Ellen Goyda, coach of the Nighthawks — and Katie’s mom — is confident a collective effort can carry the Nighthawks into South-West Conference title contention.

“This year we’re going to really concentrate on playing as a unit,” Goyda said.

Captains are center forward Reagan Schoen, left midfielder Maddy Twitchell, center middie Shannon Kelleher, and left wing Izzy Butler. The goaltender is Cailyn Sullivan.

Last year’s coronavirus-altered season left the SWC split into two divisions and program cohorts preventing the usual mixing and matching of players a coach might try out. On top of that, with all of the unknowns, and concerns of the potential for the season being canceled at any time, the top priority was ensuring seniors had the best day-to-day experience possible, Goyda said.

With fewer restrictions this fall, Newtown’s coach will have a new approach and get to experiment with the roster more.

The Nighthawks won all of their regular season games before falling to eventual SWC North Division champion New Milford in the tournament semifinals last fall. This year, the Nighthawks are trying for a conference title and to go deep into state tournament play. There was no state tourney last fall, and the hope is that teams will have that opportunity this time around.

“I want to set the bar high for these girls, because it’s attainable,” Goyda said of the prospects not only capturing the program’s first SWC title since 2016 but also making a run in states. “We’re hoping to get these kids the recognition they deserve.”

In addition to tough conference teams such as New Milford and South Division winner Immaculate of Danbury, other conference foes stand to provide good tests, and the Hawks have a challenging nonconference slate in place. Newtown opens the season Saturday, September 11, when Trumbull visits Blue & Gold Stadium at 4 pm. Game two is a home clash with Mamaroneck, N.Y., on Monday, September 20, at 5 pm. Branford, Ridgefield, Fairfield Ludlowe, and Greenwich are other out-of-conference opponents who are waiting and stand to help prepare Newtown for success in the postseason.

Goaltender Cailyn Sullivan denies a shot on goal by Jules Battaglia during a preseason drill.—Bee Photos, Hutchison
Nella Walsh passes to Maggie Labanca during preseason.
Lexi Bissit controls the ball during a drill at Treadwell Park.
Morgan Melillo gets ready to put the ball on goal during practice.
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