It did not take long for Fairfield Warde field hockey goalie Jess Deutsch to become a standout.

The graduating senior spearheaded Warde's most successful field hockey season ever, as the Mustangs won 13 games, and reached the FCIAC finals. Deutsch racked up eight shutouts in the 2010 season equaling her 2009 school record.

"It was really rewarding this year," Deutsch said. "We came from being the underdog and in my mind, we were champions."

The Lafayette College-bound player knew when the season began that her field hockey career would not end when the Mustangs' season ended this year. However, the captain continued to devote herself and help the team in her senior season.

.I felt like it was our senior year," Deutsch said. "This would be make or break for us."

It also helped Deutsch that her teammates, and especially fellow seniors, devoted themselves to making the team as successful as possible.

"This class did everything together in field hockey," Warde head coach Jodie Shannon said. "They played on the same team year round."

Shannon knows how hard Deutsch worked to reach the level of hockey that she did. Deutsch did not start a varsity game until her junior year in high school.

"She had to step on the field for the first time, without any varsity experience at all," Shannon said. "And goalie is a tough position."

But once she stepped on the field, she never relinquished her starting spot and, in fact, dominating at her position. Deutsch was named first-team All-FCIAC in both of her years as the starting netminder, and was named first-team all-state this year.

Off of the field, Shannon and Warde's team always knew what it was going to get from Deutsch, which is why she was named a captain for the year. Deutsch's leadership was especially prevalent on the field, as she aided Warde's sophomore-laden defense.

"Our defense was very young," Shannon said. "It was nice to have confidence in her back there."

Even in spite of her defense's lack of experience, Deutsch still paid homage to the unit which helped her achieve the school record in career wins (21) and shutouts (16).

"I'm only as good as my defense," Deutsch said.

Deutsch's prominence in persevering shutouts was admirable, but her ability to keep Warde in games was incredible. Eight times this season Deutsch was forced to make 10 or more saves, and in five of those games Warde came out victorious.

"That's not common," Shannon said of her high volume of saves. "She's gotten skills that normal goalies don't get."

Besides just her on field prowess, Shannon also realized the value of Deutsch's innate ability to speak up and at her team at the right time.

"She was very vocal," Shannon said. "She was like having another coach on the field."

Shannon also realizes how nice it is to have someone like Deutsch excel, given her personality and nature.

"She's an all-around good kid," Shannon said.

Now Deutsch will take the next step in her field hockey and academically, as she will head to Lafayette in Easton, Pa. Deutsch is ready to take that next step, and happy to continue working hard, and playing hockey.

"I'm so excited," Deutsch said. "I'm really looking forward to playing at a higher level. I think I'm ready to do it."

Shannon, a former college player herself, understands what the Leopards are getting, both on and off the field, and realizes that the school is a good fit for her.

"I think she's going to make an impact," Shannon said. "If she doesn't start in her first year, I think she's going to see some playing time and fine tune her skills even more."