Fall sports

Greenwich High School field hockey team primed to build on last year’s momentum

Photo by David Fierro: From left to right: Kelly Janssen, Maddie Hoekman and Lauren Mondschein are senior captains of the Greenwich High School field hockey team, which plays Norwalk in its season-opener.

Excelling throughout the season, the Greenwich High School field hockey team showed significant improvement during its 2021 campaign and was at its absolute best during the postseason, pushing powerhouse New Canaan to the limit in the CIAC Class L Tournament quarterfinals.

The Cardinals gave New Canaan one of its toughest tests of the season, as they were edged by the Rams, 1-0, in double overtime of the Class L quarterfinals.

Even though graduation claimed 12 players from last season’s successful squad, which registered 13 victories, the Cardinals are confident they can pick up where they left off last season when they finished their year playing high-level field hockey.

“For states, we played New Canaan in the second round and we had great, great game against them,” Greenwich coach Megan Wax said. “That was a double overtime kind of heartbreak there. But it was an awesome way to end the season, because we played so well. The way the season ended last year – it was so intense, with such high energy and so much heartbreak – they are hungry to play with that intensity. The goal is to bring it all in every game and if we do that, we know where can go by the end of the season.”

Photo by David Fierro: Megan Wax is the head coach of the Greenwich varsity field hockey team.

Greenwich’s road toward what it hopes is a season to remember begins when it visits Norwalk on Thursday for a 6:30 p.m. matchup. The Cardinals’ roster is comprised of six seniors, 10 juniors, three sophomores and one freshman. Maddie Hoekman, Kelly Janssen and Lauren Mondschein are the captains of the 2022 Cardinals.

Janssen returns as the squad’s starting goalie, a position she flourished at in 2021 for Greenwich, which finished with a record of 13-6-0-1. The Cards lost to Ridgefield in the 2021 FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals, 3-1, defeated Newtown in the opening round of the CIAC Class L Tournament, 9-0, before dropping a heartbreaking 1-0 double overtime decision to eventual state champion New Canaan in the quarterfinals.

“I’m super excited, we have a lot of potential,” Janssen said. “We have a lot of speed and athleticism and I think that’s going to come to our advantage a lot.”

Photo by David Fierro: Kelly Janssen is Greenwich’s starting goalie and will serve as one of the team’s captains.

Behind standout defensive play and Janssen’s performances in goal, Greenwich posted 11 shutout victories last fall on their way to qualifying for the playoffs.

“Kelly was our starting goalie all of last year,” Wax noted. “We feel so lucky to have Kelly coming back, she is a really good communicator. “With so many new people on the team it’s comforting to know our goalie is the same.”

Janssen, who received All-FCIAC Honorable Mention recognition for the 2021 season, made 21 saves in Greenwich’s game against champion New Canaan in the Class L state quarterfinals.

“As a sophomore in that position I had to learn a lot about the game,” said Janssen, a junior. “I needed to make a lot of good connections with teammates on the field and really build trust with all of them. Especially as an underclassman in goal you want them to know that you’ll be there for them.”

Greenwich goalie Kelly Janssen makes a save during a recent practice at Greenwich High School.

Hoekman returns as one of Greenwich’s main defensive players. She’ll provide support to the backline as the group looks to contain high-powered FCIAC teams such as Darien, New Canaan, Staples, Wilton and Ridgefield. Darien won the FCIAC Tournament title last season, capturing its fourth straight conference crown. New Canaan was the state champion, winning the Class L title, defeating Wilton for the championship.

“My specific position being in the back of the field, it gives me the opportunity to lead everyone else in front of me on the field,” said Hoekman, a senior. “I try to be as vocal and helpful as I can as a defender.”

Photo by David Fierro: Maddie Hoekman is one of Greenwich’s senior captains. She’s a defender.

Greenwich had scrimmage games against Rye High School, Glastonbury and will scrimmage Greenwich Academy tomorrow, before it faces Norwalk in its season-opener on Thursday.

“We have a lot of young people on the team, a lot of people graduated,” Hoekman said. “But we have a lot of talent on the field and I think everyone is going to benefit from each other and help each other grow.”

A senior, Mondschein is a defender and midfielder.

“We have a lot of new players, so we are going to try to work defensively and get the basics down and get the fundamental positions down, so that we can work as a team and create chemistry,” Mondschein said. “We are doing a great job in practice and we are very excited to see how we play.”

Lauren Mondschein is ready to begin her senior season as captain of the Greenwich High School field hockey team.

Indeed, the Cards went into the preseason prepared to compete.

“This summer, we worked a lot on conditioning and getting our team bond,” Mondschein said. “We see a lot of determination and motivation. Everybody here wants to play, everybody wants to win. We really want to finish how we started last year. We were very close in overtime against New Canaan and we’re ready to fight and push ourselves each game.”

Wax is impressed with the leadership the captains have displayed during the preseason.

“They exhibit everything that our program stands for and lead by example,” Wax said of her captains. “We’re really excited for them.”

Among some of the returning seniors is Klara Mueffelmann. A dynamic playmaker, Mueffelmann will be relied upon to provide scoring from the forward line.

Greenwich senior Klara Mueffelmann is one of the premier forwards in the FCIAC.

Mueffelmann, who will play field hockey at Boston College next year, scored a lot of clutch goals for the Cardinals in 2021 and was a difficult player for the opposition to defend throughout the season.

One of the top offensive/all-around players in the FCIAC, Mueffelmann earned All-FCIAC First Team honors in 2021.

“We are really excited about the strength of our forward line,” Wax said. “They are hungry to score goals and they work really well together. We feel like that’s something that we’re going to capitalize off. Klara will be a top forward. She’s a third year varsity starter and she’s a dominating force on the field. Klara plays at an elite, high level.”

Wax’s coaching staff includes varsity assistant Sarah Jarombek, varsity assistant Erik Caraballo, Stephanie Fazio (junior varsity coach) and Amanda Oberly (freshman coach).

Photo by David Fierro: Klara Mueffelmann was an All-FCIAC First Team selection in 2021.

Caroline Babb is among the junior starters returning. Babb should spark the Cards as a midfielder. Kate Donnellan and Stella Thibeault are among some of the squad’s sophomores.

Greenwich’s home-opener is Sept. 12 against Wilton at 4:30 p.m.

“There are a lot of new faces, a lot of awesome talent,” Wax said. “The girls are hungry. Of course, everyone wants to win the FCIAC championship, the state championship and that’s what we’re aiming for too. I always like to get them to break it down to smaller game-by-game, day-by-day goals. The goal is to bring it all in every game and if we do that where can we go by the end of the season.”

Said Janssen: “We need to play more as a team and gain experience and as we play more as a team, we’re going to do well. I’m so excited for the season to begin, I can’t stop thinking about it.”

Isa Lattuada, Zita Cohen, Angelica Veronis and Maggie Bulis, all of whom served as captains in 2021, were among the graduates of last season’s successful squad. Lattuada, a First Team All-FCIAC Team selection, is playing field hockey at Amherst and Cohen, an All-FCIAC West Team selection, is competing on the Brown University field hockey team. Veronis received All-FCIAC Honorable Mention accolades. Justine Ligouri, who received All-FCIAC First Team honors, graduated and is playing at Amherst. Isa Biagini, also a 2022 graduate, was received All-FCIAC Honorable Mention recognition.

Greenwich High field hockey captains Kelly Janssen, Maddie Hoekman and Lauren Mondschein are to fulfill their roles.

SCHEDULE: Greenwich’s home games include: Wilton, Sept., 12; Fairfield Warde, Sept. 21; New Canaan, Sept., 29; Westhill, Oct. 6; Trumbull, Oct. 8; Staples, Oct. 11; Hall, Oct. 15; Darien, Oct. 15 and Newtown, Oct. 22. The Cardinals will visit Ridgefield on Sept. 17.

Greenwich has a winning history. The Cardinals have won 17 FCIAC Tournament championships, the most of any team in the conference. Darien is second with 14 FCIAC Tournament titles. Greenwich’s last FCIAC championship came in 2012.

“Playing in the FCIAC, we know it’s going to be challenging, but we are so excited for the season to start, because we know we are willing to push ourselves and build this connection with each other,” Mondschein said. “We’re ready to excel and we’re going to work together as a team.”

Hoekman said: “Last year, we had a good season and I think one of our main goals is to start the season off the way we finished last year, with the same power and drive. Hopefully, we can finish with a championship this year.”

Greenwich plays Norwalk in its season-opener on Thursday.

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