Shelton building program from ground up

Shelton High School’s varsity field hockey program is in its second season, and the Gaelettes aren’t measuring success so much by wins and losses, or goal differential, but rather by the progress made on the field from day to day.

The program began four years ago before stepping up to the varsity level last fall.

Joining the varsity ranks makes for some growing pains for new-to-the-sport competitors and pretty much everybody on the Shelton team has at most a few years of experience playing the game. There are 12 sophomores and six freshmen in the program, which includes a junior varsity squad.

“You can see the skills are getting better. They are improving,” Shelton coach Mary Piccirillo said.  “We’re a young team. I have people playing a lot of different positions. They’re not always playing a position they’re used to. They’ve done a good job. They’re stepping in and doing it.”

Piccirillo said all but one player — freshman Catherine Santa — came into the program having previously played the game. Injuries have forced team members to switch positions as they learn the game, adding to the severity of the learning curve, while also adding to the versatility of their skills.

“I’ve definitely seen strides. Our understanding of the game as a whole has gotten a lot better,” said Katie Zuccarini, one of only two seniors on the team, who has played three seasons,but had most of her final campaign cut short because of a season-ending injury.

Zuccarini and senior goaltender Sara Rivera are team captains.

In eight games to begin the season, Shelton had yet to score a goal, but has been competitive in some of the contests, falling 1-0 to North Haven and dropping two other contests by 3-0 scores.

In a 6-0 loss to visiting Sacred Heart Academy on Oct. 4, Rivera made some impressive saves, including one on a penalty stroke.

Although winning would be nice, the team members are making the most of the opportunity to play.

“They come every day and they keep working hard,” Piccirillo said. “I think they’re excited about field hockey and they’re learning.”

The varsity players are Keira O’Connor, Alley Russell, Cate Santa, Ava Gigliotti, Maeve Marks, Gianna Maurati, Emily Zerella, Maria Curran, Yasmeen Dabiran, Gianna D’Angelo, Zoe Hunt, Jessica Perley, Jaclyn Perna, Kaylee Persson, Alexis Thompson, Hayley Tranner, Sara Rivera and Kathryn Zuccarini.

JV players are Rachel Brown, Maya Littlefield, Mya Meranda, Samantha Rago, Maliya Reid, Rayonna Barrett, Christie Brumaire, Mia Dioguardi, Ashley Kearns, Amelia Nankervis, Sophia Perry and Camryn Mazerolle.