The Fairfield Warde field hockey team has big shoes to fill in 2011.

The Mustangs had the best season in their recent history, winning 13 games and reaching the FCIAC tournament finals.

But the Mustangs lost six seniors, five of whom are going to play college field hockey. Goalie Jess Deutsch and midfielder Stacey DiLeo are off to Division 1 programs at Lafayette College and Rider University, respectively.

"We had a good graduating class," head coach Jodie Shannon said. "They all obviously made an impact."

The onus of replacing Deutsch-- likely the best goalie in the school's history-- will fall to senior Lindsay Lopes.

"She's looking great," Shannon said of Lopes. "She's very strong. I think she's going to fill (Deutsch's) shoes very nicely."

Lopes will be one of three seniors on the team, with the other two being captains Lara Veit and forward Meghan Baer.

The Mustangs' third captain is senior, and team manager, Nicole Baratz.

The team's defense will be experienced, as joining Viet will be juniors Isobel Curtis and Becca Smith. All three girls were starters and helped Warde allow just 20 goals in 20 games in 2010.

"Our backs are all returning," Shannon said. "We'll have a strong backfield."

Dileo's loss spotlight's the team's inexperience at midfield, as Warde lost its entire middle line to graduation. Junior Sara Fabri did see action as a sophomore, and will need to step up.

"Our midfield is going to be the harder positions to fill," Shannon said. "We're going to change the formation around to compensate for that."

Junior Lindsay Adams will join Baer as Warde's top returning forwards, leaving Shannon less worried about scoring goals than she has been in the past.

"The forwards are all returning and are mostly juniors," Shannon said. "They have the shots, now it's going to be about finishing."

Despite the team's losses to graduation, the Mustangs will have more field hockey skill than past teams have had because of their experience playing in the offseason.

"Our girls have come back from playing with travel teams or playing during the summer with better skills," Shannon said. "Most of them have been playing all year... we're not seeing that hesitancy that you get when you just throw them out there."

Because of that, the team's goals aren't changing in 2011, and Shannon even wants to build upon a disappointing first-round playoff exit against Fermi.

"States was underestimated last year, I'd like us to go further," Shannon said. "Those are always our goals."

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