The core is deep and experienced. But can that depth and talent be molded into something special? That will be the job of veteran Warde field hockey coach Jodie Shannon this season.

Heading into her 14th season with the Mustangs, Shannon has an experience-laden squad that boasts 11 seniors, led by three-year starter Katie Stepsis in goal. Stepsis, a second-team All-FCIAC performer last fall, made 142 saves and compiled an 89.1 save percentage as Warde went 8-5-2-1.

She will be a co-captain this season along with senior forwards Darci Byington and Kelly Milicia, who are both "quick" according to Shannon and are "aggressive with great stick skills" and senior midfielder Liz Gallucci.

Other top returnees include, senior defenders Sam Dunn and Becca Mitri, along with sophomore midfielder Sarah Adams.

Last year, Warde fell in the second round of the CIAC tournament to Chesire.

"Our biggest strengths are speed and the players' ability to work together," said Shannon in her fall prospects. "The seniors are all strong leaders and a large part of the seniors have played together in these positions since freshman year. They have a great sense of the field and where each teammate is throughout the game."

Shannon brings a 92-80-18-9 record into the 2014 season and with luck, could collect her 100th career win this fall. Maybe even against long-time FCIAC power Darien, whom she has yet to beat.

LUDLOWE

Ludlowe (6-8-1-1) came within two wins of finishing at .500 and Falcons coach Cathy Hamill is banking on some solid seasons from several return players to qualify for both the FCIAC and the CIAC tournaments.

"We have some strong returning players whose experience we'll rely on in key positions in the center back and midfield areas," said Hamill in her fall prospectus. "We also have some depth. The girls have a strong work ethic and they've worked hard to develop and improve their stick skills and it shows on the field."

Last fall, Ludlowe defeated Hamden in the qualifying round to make the CIAC field but lost to No. 2 ranked Cheshire in the opening round.

Paula Camara and Julia Ennis will be co-captains this season and top returning players for Ludlowe include, Hannah Sharpe, Caroline Power, Madison Burress, Sydney Burr, Emily O'Keefe and Meg Curran.

"We need to focus on scoring opportunities," Hamill wrote. "Substitutions are important for maintaining top form and it's great to have this in place this season."