The annals of Shepaug Valley High field hockey are rich with memories of state and Berkshire League titles won and state-class players distinguishing themselves.

In recent years, the Spartans had not been able to achieve that level.

Yet this autumn's squad, coached by Jaye Stuart and Sarah Lipinsky, enjoyed a taste of what is feels like to play field hockey at a lofty level.

"As every coach hopes," said coach Stuart, "we peaked at just right the time."

The Spartans played competitive hockey all fall en route to a 7-9 record.

That performance earned them a state Class S tournament playdown match against Enfield, which the Region 12 girls won 3-2 on Nov. 4 to advance to the round of 16.

"Unfortunately, our regular season record put us at the very top of the bracket," said Stuart.

That meant a third match of the season with undefeated Berkshire League champion Nonnewaug.

In earlier games, the Chiefs had dismissed the Spartans, 3-1 and 4-0.

However, Shepaug had elevated its game since the second meeting and gave the host Chiefs all they could handle Nov. 5 in Woodbury.

"Our Nonnewaug game was very evenly matched," said Stuart.

"The score was 0-0 with just about four minutes left," she said, "when the Chiefs scored on a very controversial play."

Nonnewaug scored again before the final buzzer to earn a state quarterfinal berth with a 2-0 victory and close the books on the Spartans' campaign.

"That particular game experience was monumental for our underclassmen," said Stuart. "Unfortunately for our seniors, (it was) the bittersweet end."

As she looked back on the team's development this fall, coach Stuart was pleased with her team's progress.

"Every thing seemed to finally click, motivation to work hard, trust in teammates, the will to win," she said. "They always had the skill to win but not the game sense~or the ability to push beyond."

The season's conclusion also brought the Spartan field hockey careers of seniors Kailee Munson, Olga Parlova, Sasha Piscuskas, Hannah Redstone and Veronica Winthrop to a close.

For more photos, visit www.newmilfordspectrum.com.