Despite graduating seven and losing one of its few returning seniors to injury, the Fairfield Ludlowe girls basketball team has reason for optimism in 2012-13.
Ludlowe graduated seven seniors from the squad that reached the Class LL state tournament. The Falcons will also be without senior captain Brittney Bentivegna, who suffered a knee injury and will not be able to play this year.
Senior forwards Alex Poitras and Sydney Foulk both will lead Ludlowe as captains, as well. They are the only two healthy seniors on Ludlowe's roster.
"They're going to be impact players," Ludlowe coach Sarah Huntington said. "Alex Poitras is so vocal and Sydney Foulk is such a hard-nosed player."
The Falcons claimed an opening-night victory over Harding, their first first-game win since 2008-09. Ludlowe also returns a young, athletic group of juniors who have gained significant experience in their first two years.
Spearheading the Falcons' quartet of 11th graders is forward Pauline Blatt. Blatt is another of Ludlowe's captains-- the only non-senior-- and is a monster inside and on the boards. Julia vonEhr, also a junior who saw varsity minutes as a sophomore, will be the team's point guard.
Sophomores Caroline Pangallo is a starter and Pauline's sister Charlotte, along with classmate Trish Auray, will offer the Falcons' front-line some depth. Whatever Huntington's role-players' tasks are, she'll take them.
"We talked a lot about ... that the team comes first," Huntington said. "If they do their job and do it to the best of their ability-- whether it's the 30 seconds they get in or the 32 minutes they get in -- they've really accepted and started to find that groove."
With an inexperienced roster, coupled with a hellacious FCIAC schedule -- Huntington's not setting any unattainable expectations.
"We've got some really tough opponents, the FCIAC is really strong," Huntington said. "We have to focus on us ... If we can get better every day, and we can continue to be a team and work as a team in practice, we'll achieve our bigger goals."