The new-look Newtown High School field hockey team couldn’t have put together much better of a start to the season than it has had. The Nighthawks, led by first-year Coach Stephanie Paproski and with a roster almost entirely made up of newcomers, posted an impressive 3-0-2 mark in their first handful of games this season.
Newtown’s first loss came in a 2-1 nail-biter against visiting South-West Conference foe New Milford, at Treadwell Park, on September 24.
The Nighthawks had tied their previous two SWC opponents, Bethel and Immaculate of Danbury, both in 1-1 contests, and beaten Woodstock Academy 4-0, Brien McMahon of Norwalk 3-1, and Watertown 6-2.
“I think the team played extremely well — they work together really well,” Paproski said of the start to the campaign.
Against McMahon on September 18, the all-Emily tandem got things going as Emily Davis assisted Emily Campbell to open the scoring. Campbell notched her second goal of the game off an assist from Erica Thill, and Caroline Chocholak added a cage-finder. Newtown tied Immaculate the next night thanks to a goal by Thill.
Watertown visited on September 21, and the teams traded goals early on before Newtown seized control. Thill assisted Chocholak before Watertown answered to deadlock the game going into halftime. Julia Diluofo scored in the second half before the visitors answered again. But then Newtown reeled off four unanswered goals. Chocholak assisted Campbell, Thill set up Caitlin Kean, and Campbell scored unassisted — all from fast breaks down the field — before Chocholak assisted Campbell for her third tally.
Against New Milford, Newtown managed to stay in the game despite a decisive advantage in scoring opportunities favoring the Green Wave. The Wave finished with a 16-5 advantage in penalty corners. Strong NHS goaltending by Casey Demers (nine saves) and defense by Kayla Disibio, Megan Goyda, Brooke Hadgraft, Cate Haggerty, and Emily Davis prevented the Wave from scoring any more.
Newtown trimmed a 2-0 deficit in half with just 1:46 remaining in regulation when Davis banged home a shot during a scramble off a penalty corner feed by Diluofo.
“We just went in with our all and tried our hardest,” said Diluofo, adding that the Hawks expected a tough test in New Milford. Newtown mustered only a couple of shots but came close to generating multiple scoring chances with good passing and stick work.
Paproski was pleased with the way her team showed fight to make things interesting in the waning minutes, but thought the Hawks could have come out of the gates a with a little more spark. “I think we could have come out today with a little more intensity than we had,” she said.
The coach, however, believes her team may be on the verge of being one that can hang with the top teams. “I think we’re ready to be that competitive team,” Paproski said.
Newtown stands to get some good tests following the New Milford game. The Hawks were scheduled to take on New Fairfield on September 26 and still has games against Joel Barlow of Redding, Pomperaug of Southbury, and Lauralton Hall of Milford on the slate. NHS will host Weston (at Treadwell) at 4:15 pm on Friday, September 27.
“We’re all working together really well and have come out pretty strong so far,” Diluofo said.