Girls Soccer

Girls Soccer Preview: Staples Has Slight Edge In Three-Team Race

Autumn Smith and Staples hope to be on top in the FCIAC by the end of the season. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

Girls soccer continues to be played at an extremely technical level in the FCIAC, and this year will be no different. Ridgefield and Staples have met in the Class LL final the past two years, and few would be surprised if we get a hat trick. It has developed into a competitive rivalry.

I’m giving a slight nod to the Wreckers based on a greater number of returning starters — the Tigers must replace the remarkable defender/set-piece specialist Claire Middlebrook and keeper Lauren Castle — but they are hardly a prohibitive favorite.

And then there is St. Joseph, with a mixture of old and new, that should make it a three-team race, though there are four or five others to keep an eye on.

The Favorite

Staples. The Wreckers made it through the regular season unbeaten last season, with three draws, just earning the top seed. It finished in a three-way tie for the most points the previous year. Yet a combined 25-3-4 mark was the launching pad to one trip to the FCIAC title, consecutive trips to the Class LL final against Ridgefield but no titles. Coach Barry Beattie and his players are taking a glass-half-full view, and with nine returning starters there is the talent to match the motivation. Staples is loaded, with Mia Gonzalez anchoring the defense and Autumn Smith and Reese Sutter controlling the middle of the field. This is the last chance for the team’s seniors and they plan on making the most of it.

The Contenders

Ridgefield. Pick against the Tigers at your own risk. The last two years they seemed to be hit hard by graduation losses and each ended with a win over Staples in the state final. Last year they also added the FCIAC title. Ridgefield’s top three scorers return, led by senior Caitlin Slaminko (18 goals, 13 assists) and junior Faith Arnold (13 goals, eight assists), two accomplished finishers. Tasha Riek ended her sophomore year with 11 goals and five assists. Megan Klosowski is strong on the ball at midfield and Carolyn Donovan has been an underrated defender. The Tigers keep reloading with young talent and few will be surprised if the season ends with a three-peat.

St. Joseph. Last year ended a run of three straight state titles by the Cadets, who have lost just two regular season games the last two years. That dominance has coincided with the arrival of Maddie Fried and her uncanny ability to find the back of the net from all angles. Mary Lundregan made an impact as a freshman at midfield, while Grace Hickey, Caroline Sheehan and Christina DiCesare are coming off of strong seasons. The Cadets have the pieces to take home some hardware.

New Canaan. The Rams gained six wins in the standings a year ago and made it all the way to the FCIAC championship game. They are built for sustainability, led by a strong attacking unit of Dillyn Patten, Emma Schuh and Kaleigh Harden. Olivia Bognon and Sophie Potter help the Rams dictate play at midfield. If New Canaan sneaked up on anyone last year, it will not happen again this fall.

Commentary: Staples Has Right Mental Fitness For Title Runs

The Sleeper

Trumbull. There was a period when the Eagles were the league’s — and one of the state’s — premier programs. That ended just over a decade ago. They are on an upswing again, and will be boosted by Sophia Lowenburg, an All-FCIAC player who has transferred from St. Joseph. She will join a lineup that has six returning starters. Wilton and Darien are two other programs to keep an eye on.

Ridgefield’s Caitlin Slaminko is one of the state’s top finishers. (Photo: Gregory Vasil)

15 Players To Watch

Faith Arnold, Ridgefield
Olivia Bognon, New Canaan
Maddie Fried, St. Joseph
Olivia Gladstein, Wilton
Mia Gonzalez, Staples
Megan Klosowski, Ridgefield
Sophia Lowenburg, Trumbull
Mary Lundregan, St. Joseph
Peyton McNamara, Brien McMahon
Dillyn Patten, New Canaan
Alyvia Ronning, Fairfield Warde
Caitlin Slaminko, Ridgefield
Autumn Smith, Staples
Reese Sutter, Staples
Marlo Von der Ahe, Staples

St. Joseph will again rely on Maddie Fried’s explosive play. (Photo: Matt Dewkett)

Lineups

Danbury: GK: Jenna Ferrandino; D: Olivia DeMoura, Jenna Silva, Maya Pellicone, Natalie Alvarez; M: Victoria Catarino, Lexi Silva, Stephanie Queiroz, Natalia Catarino; F: Lexi Estanqueiro, Caroline Dickson.

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Fairfield Ludlowe: Arianna Meehan, Caroline Sullivan, Georgia Hoey, Grace Shah, Sophie Jalkut, Zelle Halloran.

Fairfield Warde: G: Claire Harper; D: Julia Marcus, Sophia Pollex, Kate Risley, Catie Corrigan, Sophie Ronning; M: Emma Shaughnessy, Alyvvia Ronning, Meghan Lajeunesse, Marisa Homa, Jenna Wright, Claire Cherniske; F: Lena Gunn, Caroline Marcus.

Greenwich: G: Clay Garrett; D: Celine Cohen, Kristen Berzolla; M: Jordan Moses, Claudia Caruso; F: Kelly Martyanov, Sophia Bastek.

Brien McMahon: G: Kayla Cocchia; D: Jocelyn Lister, Sydney Molaver, Peyton Korzenik, Caitlyn Hocker, Valentina Villa, Victoria Papadapolous; M: Peyton McNamara, KK Ortiz, Niamh Linehan, Cassidy Nash, Mikaela Ortolano; F: Viviana Luna, Riley Gulick, Sofia Aguilar.

New Canaan: G: Emma Gibbens; D: McKenna Harden, Sophie Salmini, Anna Zoccolillo, Katherine Lisecky, Lydon Cooney, Abby Van Dussen, Charlotte Gelhaus; M: Sophie Potter, Riana Afshar, Olivia Bognon, Jade Lowe, Izzy Miller, Kennedy Kreutzer, Hollis Mulry, Annabel Catlin, Katherine Morrocu, Courtney O Connell, Lizzie Kuchinski; F: Dillyn Patten, Emma Schuh, Elizabeth St George, Kaleigh Harden.

Norwalk: G: Anna Haus; D: Alysa Valencia, Nicole Calderon, Giselle Vigil, Sara Smeriglio; M: Cammy Monaco, Amanda Lihv, Caroline Bonebrake, Casey Donnelly, Karen Macias, Isabella Papadopoulos, Claudia Uva; F: Mady Suda, Emily Guzman, Jordan Marcucilli.

Ridgefield: G: Kelly Chittenden; D: Carolyn Donovan, Audrey Conte, Sofia Gasparo, Sydney Giordano, Eva McKinley, Grace Michalowski, Meredith Clifford, Justine Corsilia, Emma Nilsson, Alexandra Kinkead, Jillian Pastore, Charlotte Kemp; M: Mackenzie Dalton, Megan Klosowski, Megan Dunphy, Natasha Riek, Julia Bragg, Allison Ouellette, Maya Rubio; F: Caitlin Slaminko, Faith Arnold, Jamie Narciso.

St. Joseph: D: Helen Mahoney, Caroline Sheehan, Julia DeCesare, Ashley Collins; M: Andriana Cabral, Mary Lundergren, Annie Stook; F: Julia Bike, Maddie Fried, Grace Hickey, Hailey Cocca.

Stamford: G: Adi DelTorto; D: Lia Chichester, Fran Ordonez, Karen Gaytan, Megan McQuillan, Molly Eldredge, Ashley Arrubla, Zoe Tongtong, Maddy Shapiro; M: Izzy Apablaza, Claire Salerno, Bailey Getlik, Emma Gamble, Cristina Ninivaggi, Kendall Richmond, Ella Rosen, Carly Diamond; F: Chanille Assevero, Nat Widmer, Caroline Archila, Brianna Gutierrez, Emma Mancini.

Staples: Reese Sutter, Mia Gonzalez, Autumn Smith, Marlo Von Der Ahe, Katie Ialeggio, Gaby Gonzalez, Alyssa Sivinski, Marisa Shorrock, Cailyn Lesher, Alexa Frost, Lys Goldman, Sophie Mulhern, Charlotte Barnes, Alexandra Hamer, Abigail Greenlee, Arden Scherer, Isabelle Gerrard, Riley Dembo, Hayley Buckman, Charlotte Zhang, Haley Roraback, Madison Sansone, Alexandra Wasserman, Charlotte Franklin.

Trumbull: Gianna DiBello, Chelsea Cunha, Lauren Mecca, Sona Kocinsky, Grace Lesko, Sophia Lowenburg, Nina Pizzicarola, Hannah Seymour, Sarah McStravick, Alexis Van Stone, Katelyn Bailo, Ellie Marin, Mary Lynch, Megan Montalvo, Megan Garrity, Grace Hall.

Wilton: Erynn Floyd, Olivia Gladstein, Libby Connelly, Ashley Carboneir, Maddie Wecker, Piper Chase, Janet Johnson, Sophie Sudano, Janet Johnson, Mia Pepitone.

(Teams missing did not reply to repeated requests for information)