GROTON — Stonington High's girls soccer players and their coach are in agreement.
If their sport was a subject at the school, the Bears would be carrying an A through the first five weeks of the season. But the final grade is what is most important and that is yet to be determined.
For now, Stonington has to be more than satisfied with a 9-1 record after a 4-0 victory against Fitch in an ECC out-of-division game at Groton Middle on Tuesday.
The Bears are ranked No. 4 in the latest Class M/S GameTimeCT state coaches poll. And they have the best record among Class M teams.
Stonington has outscored its opponents 35-6, including six shutouts in the last seven games.
"I'm a really hard grader. Honestly, this group definitely deserves an A," Solomon said. "They are doing the right things and they are competing. Everything I ask, they come out and do it every single game.
"Our girls are very technical and they also have phenomenal team chemistry both on and off the field. And that definitely helps our play. They train hard and they know their roles. The players who are supposed to finish, finish, the players who are supposed to make plays, make plays, and my defenders and goalies do a great job of doing their jobs."
Last season, Stonington started 4-2 but went 2-8-1 the rest of the way, losing in the first round of the Class M tournament. It was a disappointing finish. Injuries and a couple of overtime losses hurt the Bears.
In 2020, the Bears were 11-1-1 during a season that did not feature a state tournament due to the pandemic. And in 2019, the Bears were 5-10-1 and did not qualify for the state tournament. No player on this team has won a state tournament game.
"We've always had talented players since I've been on the team," senior midfielder Carleigh O'Keefe said. "There's just been times that we haven't connected all the pieces. But this year we are making it happen."
O'Keefe also gave the Bears an A for their play so far.
"We connect very well with each other. We are all super composed and we are all very technical," O'Keefe said. "When you add that all together, and we play as a team, we always end up finding the back of the net."
O'Keefe and fellow midfielder Maya Terwiliger possess strong foot skills that allow them to keep possession, make their way around defenders and create space to play balls to their teammates.
"We've played really well through the middle, connecting passes up the field and down the field and building from the back," said Terwiliger, who gave the team an A-plus. "It's been a really pleasant experience playing here. We have good chemistry and everything."
Stonington controlled Tuesday's game against Fitch (1-9-1), finishing with 21 shots on goal while not allowing the Falcons any.
Carly Constantine, Terwilliger, Vanessa Amkhamavong and Ladleigh Hargus all scored for the Bears. Most of the game was played on Stonington's side of the field.
Constantine leads the team with nine goals. Finn O'Keefe is next with seven and Iliana Rashleigh has three.
Stonington expects to compete for a state title this season.
"I think we can," Terwiliger said. "We want to win every game we play. We go into every game competing as hard as possible."
Solomon also expects the Bears to compete for a title.
"Absolutely, without a doubt," she said. "They are a complete team from the starting group to the players who come off the bench and give us minutes. They work for each other."
Stonington still has six games remaining on its regular-season schedule as well as an expected berth in the ECC tournament.
The state tournament starts Nov. 5 and Stonington is expecting a home game or two if it continues its strong play.
But O'Keefe is well aware that tournament seedings don't always reflect a team's abilities. Teams that play in strong leagues may have less-than-stellar records but still have a quality squad.
"I think our record reflects how well we've played. Regardless of the record, we just have to keep playing our game. I'm really looking forward to it," O'Keefe said of the postseason. "I'm really hoping we go far, and I think we can and it will be a lot of fun if we do."
Stonington next travels to Bacon Academy on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. game.