With 12 seniors returning from last year's championship team, the Darien field hockey team likes its chances for 2013.
The reigning Class L State Champions and FCIAC co-champions have no intention of leaving their perch among the nation's elite high school field hockey teams.
Coach Mo Minicus begins her 14th season at the helm and likes what she sees.
"I feel good about the season," Minicus said. "We have a great senior class returning, a lot of juniors, and two very strong sophomores. So now we are trying to figure out the chemistry of the best 10 field players."
"Having Danika in goal as a three-year starter gives everyone a sense of relief that we have some experience back there and some strength," Minicus said. "It's always a good feeling going into a season when you have complete faith in your goalie."
According to the captains, one of last year's team songs was "I'm On A Roll," and the same can certainly be said of the Darien field hockey program. The Wave, which went 17-1 last year in the regular season, has won five of the last six state championships and five of the last nine FCIAC crowns.
Captain Hollis Perticone attributes that success to their coach.
"Mo is a great coach and pushes us really hard in practice so we are always focused, and when it comes to the game we all motivate each other," Perticone said.
Key losses from last year's squad include Kat Huber and Maggie Wells, who both received First-Team FCIAC honors, and Lexie Perticone, who was chosen Second-Team FCIAC. Huber was also named Connecticut Player of the Year in 2012.
"We definitely have holes to fill on each line," Minicus said.
"We've shown a lot of intensity, and a lot of underclassmen look really good," Brokaw said. "Now we just want to connect on the field, get to the postseason and win some titles."
Riegel added that team unity is a key ingredient to the Wave's success.
"We are one big family, really united, and I am grateful to be a part of it," Riegel said.
Part of that optimism stems from an impressive 3-2 win in a preseason scrimmage over Oak Knoll, which was ranked No. 2 in the country last year.
"Our possession skills are very good. We just need to learn to attack a little bit sooner and a little bit stronger," Minicus said of her team's performance against Oak Knoll.
As for the key matchups this year, all four captains have circled Wilton on their schedule in red.
Wilton has been a thorn in Darien's side. The 1-0 loss to the Warriors last year proved to be the only loss for the Wave.
Darien is also smarting from the 3-2 overtime loss to the Warriors in the State semi-finals in 2011.
"We are really pumped about Wilton, but the FCIAC is so competitive that every game matters," Riegel said.
The team kicks off the 2013 campaign at Stamford on Wednesday, Sept. 11.