Field hockey: Determined Gaelettes trending in right direction

The Shelton High field hockey team is coached by Jeff Napoli and Bob Ayer. Team members (front row) are Gianna D’Angelo, Christie Brumaire (#8), Emily Zerella (#19), Maeve Marks (#24), Jessica Perley (#17), Cate Santa (#10), Ava Gigliotti (#13) and Keira O’Connor (#18); (second row) Hayley Tranner, Mya Merenda, Amelia Nankervis, Mia Dioguardi, Kaylee Persson, Brooke Muller, Maria Curran, Gianna Maurati and Yasmeen Dabiran.

The Shelton High field hockey team is taking aim at the competition.

In only its third year, the Gaelettes have seen a vast improvement defensively and are hard at work to develop their offensive attack.

In its first year in 2016, Shelton allowed over six goals in a game eight times going 0-16. Last season those numbers went down to just four games allowing over six goals in a game while posting a 0-15-1 mark.

Entering last week, the defense allowed just one team to score over six goals in a game showing that the team is trending in the right direction.

The Gaelettes, under co-head coaches Jeff Napoli and Bob Ayer, are hard at work putting together an offensive attack to help them become even more competitive.

“These girls, especially the seniors who have been there since day one, are so determined to get that first win for the program,” said Napoli. “I have been coaching many sports for a long time and I’ve never had three captains so motivated in keeping this team involved and focused.”

Shelton is fortunate to have a senior presence on all three lines, giving the younger players some stability as they gain experience.

Team captains Kaylee Persson, Gianna D’Angelo, Jessica Perley lead a strong senior class.

Leading the defense is senior captain Jessica Perley, at midfield is senior captain Kaylee Persson, and on the attack is senior captain Gianna D’Angelo.

Seniors Yasmeen Dabiran (defense) and Maria Curran (midfield) give Shelton even more experience to work with along with classmates Jaclyn Pema, Hayley Tranner and Alexis Thompson.

Junior defenders Mia Dioguardi and Emily Zerella team up with junior keeper Ashley Kearns to keep Shelton within striking distance.

“Our biggest obstacle that we face as far as the development of the team is we have no feeder program,” said Napoli. “Almost every team we play has a feeder program and their girls have been playing field hockey for three or four years before high school.

“It certainly puts us at a disadvantage. At the same time you couldn’t tell by the way the girls come out and work so hard to get better. They have such tremendous determination and they are all there for one another.”

The offensive attack, led by junior Gianna Maurati and sophomores Keira O’Connor (midfield) and Cate Santa (attack) helped score the most goals this season in last Thursday’s 7-2 setback to Sacred Heart Academy.

The two goals matched last year’s mark for the highest offensive output a 2-2 tie with North Haven.

Junior Ava Gigliotti and O’Connor scored the goals for Shelton with Persson, D’Angelo and Perley lending the assists.

The Gaelettes also have a strong junior presence led by Rachel Brown, Christie Brumaire and Mary Falsetti, Maeve Marks and Amelia Nankervis.

Shelton continues to build for future success, with a large talented group of underclassman.

Leading the way are sophomores Mya Merenda, Brooke Muller, Samantha Rago and Alexandra Russellm, who are  teaming up with freshman Madelyn Cyr, Jaclyn Jenco, Amanda Kiman and Rachel Kiman, Avalina Maurati and Caroline Richmond.

“The goal (with coach Ayer) is to start a summer camp this year,” said Napoli. “Most girls haven’t touched a field hockey stick until their freshman year and we need to offer a way to change that. Cate Santa a sophomore has played on travel teams and you can see that experience with her excellent stick skills.

As a team we are definitely trending in the right direction. There are a few more games on our schedule where we can be competitive and we are working hard to get these seniors that initial win for the program before they graduate.”

On Saturday the defense led the way keeping Shelton (0-9) in the game before Brien McMahon pulled out a 3-0 win. The offense continues to take aim at building an attack and will have that opportunity in their next game on Saturday, Oct. 13, when they host 3-6-1 Lyman Hall for a 2:30 matchup at Finn Stadium.

Shelton will have a few more opportunities to break into the win column the following week. After taking on 8-1-1 Amity in Woodbridge on Monday, Oct. 15, they will then be home to host 7-3 Hamden at 7 on Thursday, Oct. 18 and finish out the week at Finn Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 20, for a 9 a.m. showdown with 3-6 Sheehan.

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