STAMFORD -- The Westhill High School field hockey team saved the best for last with one game remaining and a state playoff spot hanging in the balance. It was simple: win and you're in. The Vikings did just that with their 2-0 victory at Stamford High on senior night Thursday, capping a strong finish to the regular season.
"We had a rough start in the beginning of the season," Westhill coach Emily Lisy said. "We got it together toward the end. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in states."
Westhill (6-8-1) began the season winless through its first five games, but rallied by winning its final four out of five games. Coaches and players agree the turning point was their 2-1 victory over Greenwich.
"It was a great start when we won against Greenwish," senior co-captain Martha Masiarz said. "With all these wins, we were able to pump ourselves up and just really make it throught."
The Vikings' victory was the second of the season against the Black Knights and thus sealed the city championship. On the other side of the ball, Stamford had a down year, losing its last eight out of nine games.
Winning state championships the last two years seemed like a distant memory for coach Matt Forker, but he was still proud of his players for not giving up on the season.
"We've had a tough year," Forker said. "A lot of these girls would have just packed it in when the going got tough, but these girls are tough. These girls are all winners and have been on championship teams. Obviously the year hasn't gone the way we hoped but they put their best foot forward."
This year was a rebuilding one for Forker and his players.
"This season was trial by fire," Forker said. "These girls playing tonight didn't get any run the past couple years because we had established teams. They have to go through their trials and tribulations. It's hard to swallow now, but we'll be better for it."
The real test begins now for the Vikings as they enter the state playoffs. Westhill is coming into peak form at the right time and has momentum on its side.
"We're just really positive right now," Westhill captain Sarah Benjamin said. "We get in a really positive mindset. We really want to do it. We're really determined to do it."
Westhill made the playoffs last season but lost in the second round in a triple overtime game. The Viking squad this year around has a little different look to it.
"We have a lot of different players," Masiarz said. "This year we got new midfielders who are younger and they were really able to prove themselves."
Westhill looks forward to going deeper in the postseason and has a few days of rest to prepeare themeselves.
"We have the next few days off which I think we need," captain Lauren Sass said. "We've had so many games and we practice a lot. We're just going to keep up with what we are doing and keep up the hard work and concentration."