Ludlowe’s Lauren Beccaria is a scoring machine
FAIRFIELD - Soccer was becoming boring.
Lauren Beccaria had been playing the sport for years, almost since she could remember, but heading into seventh grade - and those formative teenage years - many of Beccaria’s friends were taking up a new sport, field hockey.
It didn’t take Beccaria long to follow along.
“I think I first went to field hockey because all my friends were playing it and I thought I’d get into the new trend,” she said, “It was just really fun, smashing the ball around with the stick. It just clicked. I really liked it.”
Smashing the ball around with the stick is something that Beccaria has gotten quite adept at over the past four seasons at Fairfield Ludlowe. From getting limited varsity as a freshman, Beccaria worked her way, not only into a starting role the last three seasons, but made herself into one of the best players in the state.
This season, as the Falcons went 12-6-1-0, qualified for the FCIAC playoffs and reached the Class L tournament quarterfinals, Beccaria scored a state-best 30 goals - earning her all-State status - and finished her career with 80 goals.
“She’s got a nose for the goal,” Ludlowe coach Joe Skarupa said, “She makes everyone else better … when you give her the ball, she’s going to do something good with it. She’s not going to just shoot it, if she doesn’t have the shot, she’ll pass the ball back.”
Beccaria tallied five goals as a freshman, raised that to 17 as a sophomore, netted 28 as a junior and capped her senior campaign off with those 30 goals.
“She’s the kind of kid that’s very unassuming,” Skarupa said, “She doesn’t brag about scoring, she just goes out and does her work. Sometimes you don’t think she’s paying attention, sometimes you wonder if she’s trying and all of a sudden, she scores. She’s always surprising you. She picks her spots.”
She got started playing in the Fairfield PAL leagues with a lot of her friends. And it didn’t hurt that right from the start, the competition was intense.
“It was a lot of fun. It was like high school season because of the competitiveness,” Beccaria said, “We traveled around Fairfield County, playing Ridgefield, all of them. Ridgefield had a good team, Darien had a good team and it was fun playing against competitive teams like that before high school.”
It wasn’t that fun, however, when high school season started and the Falcons were being pounded by the FCIAC’s elite on a too-regular basis. Freshman year, Ludlowe was just 4-11-1-0, leading to a coaching change as Skarupa, then the JV coach, was brought to the varsity.
Things quickly changed for the better.
“I definitely think that the coaching change was a major part of it,” Beccaria said, “Coach Joe and Coach (Karen) S (Seltenreich) came in and implemented a whole new formation for our team which really helped offensively for us to keep scoring goals and defensively by stopping goals. They brought in a lot of positive motivation, a lot of new drills, things that we’d never worked on before with the previous coach.”
It also helped that Seltenreich played collegiately at UConn, winning the 1996 Big East title and earning an NCAA berth in addition to winning a co-state championship at Guilford while Skarupa was the freshman field hockey coach at Warde before the consolidation and was the head field hockey coach at Fairfield High School for two seasons (1994-95).
“The motivation from them, they know that we can do our best and they worked us to do our best,” Beccaria said, “Having more offensive players up to score goals, which was something that we were really struggling with my freshmen year and the defense, we also added more people back there.”
In Skarupa’s first season (2015) Ludlowe improved, albeit slightly, posting a 4-10-1-1 record. The following season, 2016, the Falcons - with Beccaria scored 28 goals - went 10-7 and earned a place in the Class L tournament, losing to Wilton in the opening round.
“They’ve (Wilton) always been one of the top powerhouses and incredible competition to us, but we were neck and neck with them the entire game,” Beccaria said, “That was a moment where we felt things were in place for next year and we were going to do something really good.”
Beccaria’s senior season started with a bang as the Falcons earned a measure of revenge from the state tournament loss with a 2-1 win over the Warriors. In addition, Ludlowe tied Ridgefield, beat New Canaan and lost two one-goal games to Darien en route to a 12-6-1-0 record and the Class L quarterfinals.
“That’s been one of the best things these past four years,” Beccaria said, “As freshmen we knew we were going to get pounded but then as juniors, we beat Ridgefield, we beat Greenwich, this year we beat Wilton, so we right there with them now.”
And Beccaria is right there with the best goal scorers in the state.
“Mentally, I got more confident within myself,” she said. “Before a game, I was thinking it’s going to be hard to get the ball in the net but now, once the game starts and I’m getting perfect passes into the circle from my teammates, it becomes natural.”
Beccaria will continue her field hockey career at Gettysburg College, looking to major in either biology or math.
“I always kind of knew that I wanted to go there,” she said. “They have really strong academics and how they are a sport oriented school, pulled me into them and the coach was nice, the team was nice and the campus was beautiful.”
Until she leaves for Gettysburg next summer, Beccaria will continue to train at Blue Streak in Stamford and play with the Field Hockey Club of Connecticut.
The Staples coach (Ian Tapsall) founded it,” Beccaria said, “So we practice at Greens Farms and Fairfield Country Day, just a bunch of the Staples, Darien and Wilton girls. It’s cool.”
From a combined eight wins her first two seasons to 22 her last two, Beccaria has worked to mold the Falcons into one of the FCIAC’s elite.
“She left a great example of how to play,” Skarupa said, “She left an example to the younger kids. It’s really great to see these kids leaving an example which helps build the program.”