The Branford field hockey team has made it a habit of winning the past several years. Last season the young Hornets won 19 games and made it to the state championship game before falling to perennial power New Canaan 1-0.
Branford’s Hall of Fame coach Cathy McGuirk said after that game, “Don’t hang your head. You played a very good team tonight and you played very hard. I’m very proud of you.”
There’s always disappointment when you are defeated, but at the same time maybe she was thinking ahead to this year when many of her outstanding players were going to return giving her Hornets reason to believe they’ll be back.
Just past the midpoint of the season the club has a 8-1-0-1 record and is playing well once again. “We are very happy with their performance so far,” said McGuirk, speaking for herself and her longtime assistants, husband John and Robin Axtell (pictured).
“We have some very talented players and when they are on the field, they want to score out front and kids behind that do what we practice. They give a 110 percent all the time and they cheer for each other all the time. They have great harmony.”
Coach McGuirk knows what she’s talking about. You don’t have 548 career wins and not be able to judge talent and desire. Her career record is an astonishing 549-133-64-11. She is now in her 40th season at the helm.
The Hornets have played a number of successful schools in the Southern Connecticut Conference, including Cheshire, which they have split with this season, Lauralton Hall, Amity, Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, and Hand whom they lost to in overtime.
The game covered by the Eagle was last week against a talented Hamden team with a 5-3-1-1 record. The Hornets were paced in that game by senior co-captain LanLe Crotty with two goals and an assist, senior co-captain Sabrina Torcellini with one goal and two assists, and sophomore Molly Zaffino with a goal and assist.
Branford led 3-0 at the half and scored another goal midway through the second half to go up 4-0. Hamden scored their only goal with 36 seconds left to prevent the shutout. Goaltender Erica Klarman kept the Green Dragons at bay with seven stops.
The Hornets’ next game in this Friday at Lyman Hall at 3:45 p.m.