Class S Field Hockey: Toto, Oliverio lead North Branford to fifth title

Members of the North Branford field hockey team celebrate their CIAC Class S championship win over Stonington Saturday.

Members of the North Branford field hockey team celebrate their CIAC Class S championship win over Stonington Saturday.

Dan Nowak / Hearst Connecticut Media

WETHERSFIELD — When Stonington and North Branford met in the regular season, the game was a defensive struggle with one goal scored and the Thunderbirds coming away with the win.

On Saturday in the CIAC Class S Field Hockey Championship it was more of the same — in the first quarter. The North Branford offense took over and provided all the scoring they would need in the second quarter.

Olivia Toto scored the game’s first goal and Mia Oliverio added a goal and an assist to lead No. 4 North Branford to a 2-0 win over No. 2 Stonington to give the Thunderbirds their fifth state title and first since winning the Class S title in 2017.

“The difference in this game than the first time we played is we made a few changs,” North Branford coach Babby Nuhn said. “The biggest change was patience. We wanted the girls to have more patience when they made their passes. We started to do that in the second quarter.

“Olivia’s goal was big for us, it got us going. But she has been doing that for us all season. And for Mia to get a quick one right after that took some pressure off. Braeden LeBeau is our unsung hero, but she was huge today in our transition and setting up scoring opportunities. It’s great to win these titles, but it’s all about these girls and how hard they all play.”

The Thunderbirds dominated ball possession in the scoreless first quarter and the constant ball possession control took its toll on Stonington in the second quarter.

Toto scored off an assist from Oliverio on a shot about five yards in front of the goal with 11:57 to go in the second quarter. Oliverio made it 2-0 with 10:34 remaining.

“At the end of the first quarter and in the second quarter we got into the flow of the game,” Toto said. “We had to focus and instead of rushing it we started to have more patience with our passes. Because it’s my senior year, it’s kind of a great way to end our season, to be able to go out with a bang.”

LeBeau said the win was the result of being prepared and having the experience of playing Stonington earlier in the season.

“The coaches had us prepared for this game and we were a determined team,” LeBeau said. “Stonington is a good team and we needed a team effort from everyone to get this done.”

The Bears came out in the second half and played more aggressive. They were able to bring the ball deep inside the Thunderbirds’ circle a half dozen times. But they couldn’t get a shot off and ended up with no shots on goal.

“North Branford is a good team with strong stick skills and minimize your opportunities for shots on goal,” Stonington coach Jenna Tucchio said. “In the second half we needed to pick up the tempo. We needed to get the ball down their end quicker. But they are so quick they just always seem to beat you to the ball.

“But our girls didn’t give up and kept fighting. It’s hard just to get here (Class S final) and it’s harder to win here. I’m proud of our girls and they did everything they could in this game. Today was a learning experience that will help us next season.”

Avery Slocum had five saves for the Bears. The Thunderbirds had six penalty corners and the Bears had two.


Olivia Toto had four shots on goal and was able to provide the turning point in the game. She was able to turn one of those shots into a goal to give North Branford a 1-0 lead.


“Our philosophy is to play hard from the first second of the game to the final whistle to end the game and that’s what we needed to do today. We don’t celebrate anything until that final whistle is blown.” — North Branford coach Babby Nuhn.


(at Wethersfield)

North Branford0 2 0 0 — 2

Stonington0 0 0 0 — 0

Scoring: Goals: Olivia Toto, Mia Oliverio. Assists: Oliverio. Saves: North Branford - Samantha Helwig 0; Stonington Avery Slocum 5.