After two seasons of not being at the top of the South-West Conference, Newtown High School’s girls’ lacrosse team, which had won an SWC title the prior ten years in succession, appears to be on a path back to the pinnacle.
The Nighthawks went into their final two regular-season games unbeaten in conference play and sitting atop the SWC Colonial Division and overall standings. Newtown carried a record of 12-2 overall and 10-0 in SWC play into final-week games against struggling SWC Patriot Division teams Immaculate of Danbury and Notre Dame-Fairfield.
If the SWC dominance continues from the regular slate, the Nighthawks will get through the Thursday, May 18, tourney quarterfinals and Monday, May 22, semifinals, and find themselves in the title game, set for Wednesday, May 24.
“We’re in a good place. Everybody’s healthy,” Newtown Coach Maura Fletcher said after her squad doubled up host Masuk of Monroe 12-6 on May 11.
That said, Fletcher recognizes that, regardless of which school her team faces in each round, it won’t be easy winning it all.
“There’s no easy way,” said Fletcher, noting that it’s been proven that pretty much anybody can beat anybody among SWC playoff qualifiers.
The Nighthawks, for that matter, defeated Joel Barlow of Redding and New Fairfield each by three goals and edged Weston by two.
“I don’t think there’s an easy path to the championship,” Fletcher said.
In an effort to be better prepared for tough postseason competition, the Nighthawks schedule some tough nonconference tilts, including the May 13 visit to Guilford, which the Hawks won in dramatic fashion with a 12-11 double overtime goal.
The Nighthawks trailed late in regulation and scored in the waning minutes to force OT. Julia Sughrue won the game with a fast-break tally, her fifth of the afternoon. Freshman goaltender Catie Gregory made a couple of key stops in the first overtime.
Sughrue added a trio of assists, Alex Futterman scored five goals and added an assist, Nevan Gattey had a goal and an assist, Keeley Kortze scored, Alison Kelleher registered two assists, and Rylee Harrell added an assist.
In the Masuk game, Sughrue scored four times and added a trio of assists, Futterman logged three goals and an assist, Dylan Zahansky scored three times as well, and Kelleher and Kortze each hit the back of the net. Harrell logged two assists, and Gattey set up another goal.
Fletcher credits her players for working hard for three-and-a-half hours of practice six days each week throughout the season and coaching staff, which also includes Jim Kenning and former Nighthawk player Steph Suhoza, for making this a successful season.
“They had a lot to learn,” Fletcher said of her players. “We’ve raised their lacrosse IQ, but I tell them there’s always room for improvement.”