WOODBURY – When Taylor Pabst scored a goal with 1:30 left to play in its field hockey game Tuesday to put Nonnewaug on the scoreboard against Enfield, it might have sent a ripple through the state.
It gave Nonnewaug a chance to play for a tie against Enfield, the top-ranked team in the New Haven Register Field Hockey Coaches Poll.
“We all fought really hard,” senior forward Maiya Wendel said. “We wanted to win, and it really showed out there.”
Enfield, until Pabst put the ball into the cage, had allowed just one goal all season, and recorded eight consecutive shutouts. Nonnewaug head coach Beth Tarby pointed out that Enfield had beaten teams by scores of 11-0, 9-0, and, twice, 8-0 this season.
“I’m very proud of them,” Tarby said. “I thought maybe we’d hold our own. When you look at Enfield’s scores, they won 11-0, 5-0, so to lose 2-1, that’s a victory for me right there.”
The loss means Nonnewaug ends its season with an 8-7-1 record, and the Chiefs must wait until Friday to find out their CIAC Class S playoff fate. Tarby thinks Nonnewaug will be able to contend with whoever they draw in the tournament.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Nonnewaug, which went 2-5-1 in September. That’s when Tarby regrouped the Chiefs and challenged them to work better as a team. Nonnewaug responded by winning its next six games.
Tarby became the Chiefs’ coach in September, and there was really no learning curve.
“Our coach, literally, for our first game had been coaching us for two days,” Wendel said. “She didn’t know where to put us, and it was hard to get started. She brought us all together.”
It was a challenge for Tarby to even get their names right for the first three weeks, she said.
“The saying always goes, ‘you get at the end of the season,’ and we’re just starting to come together,” Tarby said.
Ending the regular season with a loss doesn’t usually put a smile on a team’s face. But given the challenge Nonnewaug faced, there was reason for the team to celebrate on the field after the game. And it wasn’t just because it was Senior Day or, possibly, its last home game of the season.
“I’m really proud of the team,” Wendel said. “I think we all worked really hard, and I’m okay if we don’t have another home game.”
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