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Stamford/Westhill/Staples completes encouraging season

The 6-14 record the Stamford/Westhill/Staples girls ice hockey team posted this season doesn't appear all that impressive on the surface, but dig a little further and it quickly becomes apparent why the cop-op team was full of smiles after its season-ending 3-2 victory over Greenwich Feb. 26.

Not only was the win Stamford's second over the Cardinals this term after never defeating an FCIAC team previously, the sixth victory doubled the win total from the first two seasons of the program's history (three), combined. This progress left head coach Eli Williams satisfied with his team's efforts this season.

"We've had ups and downs," Williams said. "We keep building, working and getting better."

The first game in the program's existence was a 13-1 defeat to Greenwich on December 7, 2011.

"To come back and beat them twice in one season is incredible," Williams said.

The team is comprised of a young core that has made tremendous strides on the ice, literally. Many members of the team had limited skating skills before competing against some of the best teams in the state.

"I've seen a lot of growth with us, from start to finish, season after season," forward Cassie Miolene, who was named second-team All-FCIAC, said. "I can see people that never skated before have gone from barely being able to stand to getting ice time, and having an effect out there."

The dynamic duo of Westhill's Miolene and Staples' Meg Fay (first team All-FCIAC on defense) supplied a large portion of the goals this term. Both juniors, Miolene and Fay could help Stamford to even more wins next season. The co-op graduates just four seniors and a strong influx of young talent should keep numbers up.

"The reason why I think our future is bright is because we have 21 players this year, and 17 will be back with game experience for most of them," Williams said. "The work ethic that has been laid down by previous teams before them is a tribute to that."

Freshman goalie Claire Parry started in the victory over Greenwich, providing many crucial stops over the course of the game. After senior Casey Bang manned the position for most of the season, Stamford got a glimpse of the future in the finale.

"Claire has been outstanding for us, and so has Casey," Williams said. "Casey kind of passed the baton onto Claire, and it's a good feeling to have Claire between the pipes for us in the future."

To aid the development of the varsity team, feeder programs in both Stamford and Norwalk are under construction.

"We are four years before we see the actual rewards from that," Williams said. "The girls that we get in will work hard like we have been and we're just going to keep getting better; forging ahead."

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Ryan Lacey

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