GHS volleyball team photo following victory over Rockville. Photo credit - GHS senior Juliana Corsa, who will minor in photography at The University of New Hampshire.
Tony Sanith took over as the head coach for the boys’ volleyball this spring, filling the seat for longtime head coach Pay Ryan.
Sanith, who also coaches girls’ volleyball at GHS, has implemented his own coaching style yet is keeping Ryan’s principles in place.
“Pat is a living legend in this area,” Sanith said of Ryan, “I didn’t know exactly what I was getting, so at tryouts we started to figure out who we had. We had great athletes that came out, especially the upperclassmen that have some experience, and it was a lot easier than expected.”
So far, so good for the new coach.
As on Monday, the Guardian have won four of five games, including a three-set win over Rockville last Wednesday night at GHS. It was the team’s third straight victory.
Senior captains Liam Scales and Peter Sposito led the way in the win over the visiting Rams from Rockville.
Scales had a game-high 16 kills, including the game-winner to polishing off the match in the third set, and Sposito added five kills and a pair of aces.
“We started to figure it out and we started to play like a team, doing the stuff that we needed to do,” Sposito said of the team’s development, “We’ve definitely grown since our first game.”
The captains are in the unique position after having their junior season wiped away by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Quarantine was definitely hard. We really couldn’t do anything but once it started getting nicer in the summer we tried to get out and get into the weight room to do whatever we could. We went from being sophomores to now being a senior captain. It was difficult, but once we came to tryouts, we knew we were the leaders and we knew what we had to do,” said Scales, who added the goal remains the same, “We just play to win. Obviously we want to have fun, but the main goal is to win. Our objective doesn’t change no matter what year it is.”
Success is always the name of the game for the program, which won 16 of 19 regular season matches the last time the team was together in 2019. All-conference seniors Jake Harasyko, Ryan Kelly, Will Miller graduated following that season.
Sanith is filling the voids on the court with a deep junior class, which include setter Paul Gilberto and libero Stephen Dayton.
Gilberto, a lefty, dished out 21 assists and had a team high six aces, including back-to-back late in the second set.
“You don’t get to see too many lefties, so just seeing that dynamic and different approach could throw off a lot of players that may not have seen it,” Sanith said of Gilberto, “Paul is one of our best servers. He’s focused and he does a great job with his float serve, which is a little more aggressive than most.”
Dayton wowed the crowd with a diving dig in the third set, prior to setting up Sposito for a kill, putting the Guardians up 17-8. He added his own powerful jump serve later in the third, blazing an ace to provided point #23 for the Guardians.
“Stephen is just a gamer. He loves the sports so much, so he tries to put in his all every single second,” stated Sanith, “When you love the sport as much as he does it becomes easy to learn and he soaks everything up. He might have to play a different position next year or have a different role because he’s capable of it.”
Fellow junior Eric Rose added a team-high four blocks.
Sanith added that the team is now understanding the nuances of the game, “I like how they are learning the sport little more. We are gifted enough. We have very tall, physically athletic kids that make great plays, but I think we’re progressing at learning the IQ side of the game.”
Through five matches, the captains are both thankful to be competing and are working in harmony to groom the younger players.
“We’ve embraced the role and became more of their friend and mentor then a disciplinary,” Sposito said of captaining the team, “It’s an unprecedented time, so we’ve got to take advantage of every things we’ve got because you don’t know what’s going happen.”
Scales added that the seniors, who have been together since middle school, are all best friends off the court, prompting the team motto, “G on three, Family on six”.
“They’re great leaders,” Sanith said of his seniors, which include James Carpenter, Jeremy Davis, and Jason Porter.
“They have everyone in the program buying in and they allow me to coach. Their internal belief that we can win is motivating everyone and they lead by example, on the court and off the court.”
Senior captains Peter Sposito and Liam Scales
WHS boys lacrosse players (L-R) Spencer Bartone, Thomas Mayfield, Colby Quinn, Alexander Parker, Wil Bankowski, Luke Whitaker, and Vasilios Tsipouras during Windsor game. Photo credit - Jo-Ann Campbell
2020 was supposed to be a banner year for the Wethersfield boys’ lacrosse season.
The Eagles were set to make their varsity debut until the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans, causing head coach Bruce Cutkomp and his team to wait an additional year to compete.
“I was just checking in here and there, seeing how everyone was doing and seeing if they still planned on being with the program,” Cutkomp said of the extended offseason, “Once we figured out we had a season, we started getting moving. My seniors did a really good job at taking it on and getting everyone in the right mindset. They did all the little things that needed to be done before the season started, which made my job a lot easier.”
On April 10, the Eagles made their long-awaited varsity debut, coming from behind to shock Granby 8-7.
Granby jumped out to a 6-1 lead after the first quarter before the Eagles stormed back to tie it at halftime, eventually closing the door defensively in the second half for the program’s first varsity.
“After the first quarter we really cleaned up our slides. We stopped their fast break because that was what they were scoring on,” recalled Michael Bielak, who is captaining the defense, “We caused some turnovers and that allowed us to score.”
Cutkomp, who previously coach JV and youth lacrosse in Wethersfield, didn’t panic during the slow start, “Being with these guys a long time I know they have that mental toughness, and they have that chip on their shoulder. I knew they were capable of it and they definitely took it on their own to change the course of that game.”
Goalie Cooper Moreau shook off a rough first quarter, allowing only one goal the rest of the way.
“We were comfortable. Coach always does a great job at preparing us,” said Moreau, who stopped 21 of 28 shots, “On defense we stayed calm, and it was just a few corrections we had to make. One thing here, one thing there, and we were right back in it. We are comfortable with our offense that we could get those goals and come back.”
Cutkomp praised his goalie’s resiliency, “I can’t say enough. For him to come back after letting up six early goals and turn the game around was essential to give us the confidence on the other end of the field. Without having that stalwart, I don’t think we would have had that confidence to continue.”
Wethersfield’s offense responded with a five-goal barrage in the second quarter, led by sophomore Wil Bankowski, who Cutkomp called “an absolute stud.”
Bankowski scored six of the Eagles eight goals, which was right on par with the dozen goals he totaled in two scrimmages leading up to the season opener.
Senior Ethan Rocheleau added a goal and an assist, while junior Colby Quinn dished out two helpers.
Senior Vasilios Tsipouras controlled the action from his midfield position, crediting the team’s mental makeup for the rally, “We were all mentally tough. We were aggressive across the board and that turned the game around.”
The come-from-behind win was much more than a season opening triumph. It was a statement win for a program that was robbed of an opportunity to compete last spring.
“It’s an amazing feeling, knowing that it was our first varsity game in the history of Wethersfield, and we beat a pretty good team,” said Tsipouras.
“It was huge for us. First varsity program win, and we were all happy,” added Moreau, who recalled the struggle of the last 12 months, “It was tough, we really didn’t have much going for us.”
The Eagles followed up the opener with resounding wins over Middletown and Windsor on Thursday and Saturday, Improving to 3-0.
In the 19-2 victory over the Blue Dragons, Bankowski tallied five more goals and two assists, while Quinn had three goals and a pair of assists.
Sophomore Michael Hughes and freshman Michael Ruck each added two goals.
Saturday’s win over the Warriors was 32-1. Bankowski added eight more goals and Spencer Bartone score five.
Rocheleau scored four goals and had four assists, while Quinn had three of each.
Bryan Rodriguez played goal, stopping six of seven shots.
Cutkomp likes the mixture of senior talent and youth on his roster, crediting young guys like Kyle Smith and Will McKenna for their work on the defensive end.
After waiting for over a year to debut, the seniors are relishing the opportunity.
“I feel like the seniors have gotten a family together and we’re brothers on and off the field,” stated Tsipouras, “When we step in between those blue lines, we’re a family and we go to war”
Bielak added the “[Winning] helps develop that desire to show that we belong at varsity and to make a name for ourselves out here.”
For Cutkomp, the early success is a satisfying for a coach that has helped develop both the current players and the program.
“Mostly I’m impressed with how prepared our senior class has been. it makes my job a lot easier. We don’t have a huge coaching staff so having those extra seniors to give those words of encouragement to pick those guys up if they’re down at that moment is huge for us,” stated Cutkomp, who also has Ralph D’Amato on staff, “To see what it has come from and to see what it has become is huge. I couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s come full circle, it’s been really nice.”
Senior defenseman Michael Bielak during program's first varsity win vs Granby. Photo credit - Jo-Ann Campbell
Noah Terzo- Wethersfield (Baseball): Terzo allowed only one hit in six innings on the mound during the Eagles 8-2 win over Bristol Eastern last Tuesday, improving the team to 3-1. The junior is part of a deep rotation, which included seniors Matt Fletcher and Brendan Zaleski, who will both be pitching at Lasell University in Massachusetts next spring.
Jaelyn Gonzalez- Newington (Softball): Gonzalez went 4-5 from the plate, slapping a triple and two doubles, and scoring three runs in Newington’s 16-8 victory over Farmington last Thursday. The sophomore followed it up with two more hits, a pair of RBIs, and a run in a 20-1 win over East Hartford on Friday.
Malena Signorello- Cromwell (Softball): Signorello connected on a walk-off hit, sending Monica Dewey home in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Panthers defeated Cognichaug 1-0 last Tuesday. The sophomore finished 2-3 from the plate, including the game-winning RBI, which captured Cromwell’s fourth straight win.
Madeline Guerrera- Rocky Hill (Lacrosse): Guerrera has been a defensive leader for the Terriers, who have won the first three games of the season. The senior scored her first varsity goal in a 9-5 victory over Rockville last Tuesday and head coach Kim Hillman said Guerrera has been a rock the team can count on, adding, “She's a great communicator out there on the field and is always helping her defense to get organized.”
Grace Canepari- Newington (Lacrosse): Canepari scored the go-ahead goal with less than a minute to go in regulation as Newington edged Canton 8-7 last Monday. The senior’s game-winner was assisted by sophomore Hailey Gaydos.
GHS baseball won its season opener, defeating Bristol Eastern 14-4 at home. The Guardians scored 10 runs in the 5th inning thanks to back-to-back triples by Sam Benedict (4-4) and Owen Stephens (3-4). Spencer Azzara (3-4) and Ben Curcio (2-4) each had multiple hits and pitcher Daniel Beagle was solid, giving up only one hit, two earned runs, and striking out four in four complete innings. Azzara closed out the game on the mound, registering the win.
After falling 7-1 to East Catholic, who held the Guardians to one run on three hits behind hard-throwing lefty Frank Mozzicato (15 strikeouts), the team rebounded with a 5-2 win over Farmington. Azzara got the win, pitching six complete innings and giving up two earned runs. Stephens closed out the game by striking out all three batters faced in the 7th and was great from the plate, scoring three runs and sending in two more.
The Guardians fell to Hall, 11-4, last Friday at Riverfront Park. Hall pitcher Joe Dooley had 10 strikeouts and GHS was held to five hits. Nick Verdone and Benedict each had two hits in the loss, which dropped the team to 2-2 on the season.
Glastonbury is scheduled to play Simsbury, Tuesday May 4th at 3:30pm, at Dunkin Donuts Park (home of the Yard Goats) in Hartford. Tickets are $5 for an adult (free for student aged children). Concessions will be open (credit card only). Come on out and support GHS Baseball if you can!
GHS Boys Tennis Remains Unbeaten
GHS sophomore Christian Kaverud
The Guardians rolled to a 7-0 win over RHAM last Monday, which was their third straight sweep to start the season, and then upended Conard (6-1) to finish the week 4-0.
Sophomore Christian Kaverud, the #1 singles player, defeated Griffin Pileski of RHAM (6-0, 6-1) and Rohan Venkatesh of Conard (6-1, 6-0). Luke Vredenburg also won both of his matches, while Dhanush Kalangi, Nathan Azimov, and Elliot Kim each picked up a win.
The #1 doubles team of Liam Kelleher/Matt Guasta swept both the Calvin Eppinger/Zach Holun duo of RHAM and the Spencer Lancweil/Evan Dillman team from Conard. The tandem of Josh Souder and Brendon Wagner also won both doubles matches, while the Manav Mittal/Justin Nascimento and Matt Daniels/Niteesh Kalangi tandems each chalked up a victory for the Guardians.
GHS softball pitcher Brooke Tracy. Photo credit - Todd Kalif
Tracy is the pitching ace for the GHS softball team, shining on the hill for a Guardians team that is undefeated heading into this week. The junior captain has won all three of her starts, including a pair of gems last week when she tossed complete games in wins over Enfield and South Windsor. Tracy blanked the Bobcats of South Windsor (6-0) last Friday, allowing only two hits and striking out 18. After three starts, she has pitched all 21 innings, fanning 43 batters. She also contributed from the plate in last week’s wins, smacking a home run and driving in two runs.
Off the field, Tracy participates in Best Buddies Club, Key Club, and is part of National Honor Society at GHS. Outside of school, she plays travel softball for the CT Lighting Gold and after graduating next year, she wants to continue playing softball in college as she pursues a degree in the STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) field.
Tracy said that she fell in love with the game of softball when she first started playing little league at the age of seven, saying, “I will always appreciate the moments, opportunities, and friendships it has given me.”
GHS Lacrosse Senior Captains (l-r) Mary Norman, Leah Suydam, Bella Acosta, Joelle Solecki, and Sam Forrest
Joelle Solecki perfectly described the current group of seniors playing on the GHS girls lacrosse team.
“We’re lovable with each other and crazy at the same time,” said a smiling Solecki, who is one of five seniors on the roster, “There’s times when we can act like best friends and sisters and if one of us is down, we’ll pick each other up, but we can also be crazy. We love singing, we love dancing.”
It’s a unique class that, despite the cancellation of the 2020 lacrosse season, has plenty of varsity experience.
Mary Norman, Bella Acosta, and Sam Forrest each earned All-Conference as sophomores following a successful 2019 season.
The three, along with Solecki and Leah Suydam, were named captains prior to the start of the 2021 spring season.
“They went from being sophomores, where you have a voice but not the loudest voice, and you really start to develop that voice as a junior, and to miss that year was tragic. It’s unprecedented,” said head coach Kris Cofiell, who added that all five seniors were worthy of the captain’s title.
“I thought it was important to have that number because there are so many young players of the field. They are excited to be here, they’re happy to be playing the sport they love. There is a sisterhood there, they want to develop that team chemistry and it’s on their shoulders.”
Acosta said the seniors were surprised when the longtime coach labeled them all captains from day one, “We were told the day of tryouts. We’ve been really good with communicating to the other girls and making it work.”
Following a 14-6 loss to perennial powerhouse Guilford in the season opener, the team flipped the script by defeating Avon 22-3 last Tuesday.
Acosta scored four goals and dished out five assists in the win.
“The loss made us realize that we have a lot of work to do, and I think that we put out effort in this game,” said Acosta.
Forrest and junior attacker Christina Guanci each added four goals in the convincing victory.
“I think we played better as a team,” Forrest said following the win, “I think there are things we can improve on, but I think we’re starting to think more as one and not just individual players.”
Cofiell praised Guanci for meshing with the seniors, “She was a freshman on varsity and now she’s been a quarterback out there. She’s a great voice, a calming voice out there, and she’s been scoring in hard times.”
In her 20+ years on the sidelines, Cofiell has consistently stressed defense and this spring junior goalie Bridget Clarke is protecting the backend.
“Bridget is a kid that we took as a freshman, who had never picked up a lacrosse stick before, and she wanted to play goalie. She’s a naturally athletic kid and she played some as a freshman, but the strides she made coming back this year have been ridiculous,” stated Cofiell, “She’s vocal and she’s making some mature choices. I can’t say how proud I am of her. She was shy little Bridget and now she has that confidence.”
Suydam, who is captaining the defense, heads the unit in front of Clarke.
“We’re definitely learning from our mistakes. Guilford was a great wakeup call and we’re pushing through and learning every day,” said Suydam, who shined defensively and scored a goal against Avon.
Suydam added that the seniors helped one another during the turbulence of the past 12 months, “We complement each other, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to be my fellow captains. It’s just really good to lead the team with such a crew.”
Norman, who is currently recovering from offseason surgery, is hoping to get back of the field before season ends. For now, she is mentoring the younger players, and Cofiell called her a “great leader on the sidelines.”
“[Against] Guilford we were doing things individually but today we were working more as a team. Especially towards the end, the bench was getting in and getting touches and working together,” Norman stated after the 19-point win, “The beginning of season we were worried about defense, but Leah has trained them all well.”
The lopsided win allowed Cofiell to dip into her bench.
“That’s nice for two reasons. First when someone shines you can see what they can do on the field, but it’s also nice because it’s going to make them better in practice,” said Cofiell, who is a 1985 graduated at GHS.
Four freshmen (Stephanie Koppy, Avery Olschefskie, Sydney Shaw, and Gianna Calciano) started against Avon. Koppy had a standout game with three goals and two assists.
“It was a learning process because the freshmen are coming straight from our town rec teams that definitely play a different style than we play here,” said Forrest, “But it’s been a great learning experience for all of us because it teaches us how to play with each other although we all come from different playing styles.”
After COVID-19 concerns washed away the entire season a year ago, the seniors are just happy to have a full season, including a state tournament.
“We talk about it during captain’s practice and told [the younger girls] that you can’t take things for granted because clearly none of us knew we wouldn’t get a junior season,” recalled Solecki, “So now that we have a senior season with younger players that want it more than ever, it makes us that more grateful.”
Acosta added, “We are very grateful to step on the field every single day. We’re all very excited and have a little more pep in our step to be outside and playing.”
Because of the circumstances and uncertainty surrounding the season, the seniors believe it’s more important than ever to mentor the next generation of Guardians.
All the seniors said they are impressed with the raw talent and effort that the underclassmen are putting forth.
“We’re trying to be almost like sisters towards them because in the future we don’t want the program to be just like it’s been done in the past. It needs to evolve with the game. It’s a family,” stated Forrest, “We’re a funny group of people. I’ve never met seniors in the past that have brought the same level of energy into practices and game. They are fun people to be around.”
Norman summed up the group with another fantastic quote, “We get along so well and we’re all kind of unique in our own different ways. We all kind of mesh together to make one weird group.”
GHS Softball Wins Opener
Glastonbury softball started spring on a winning note, defeating Maloney 7-5 in the season opener last Wednesday.
Molly Doherty tripled in the second inning, driving in the Guardians’ first run of the season.
Glastonbury added four more runs in the fifth inning behind the bats of Morgan Page and Nabia Crawford, who each sent baserunners home in the inning.
Junior pitcher Brooke Tracy went the entire way, striking out 15 and holding off a late charge from Maloney.
The Guardians totaled 10 hits in the opener, including three from sophomore Rayah Snyder.
Vredenburg is the #2 singles player on the GHS boys’ tennis team. He started his senior season on the court with a straight set win (6-0, 6-0) vs Bristol Central on April 13.
During his time at GHS, Vredenburg also starred on the gridiron as a sure-tackling linebacker, earning All-Conference as a sophomore and junior, also excelling as a tight end on the offensive end. He was named head of the football Leadership Committee after being selected as a captain of the team.
Outside of athletics, Vredenburg was part of the school’s Essence Award committee and the Big Brother/Big Sister program. He also was a member of National Honor Society in world language, science, and history.
Next fall he will be attending Northwestern University, double majoring in economics and legal studies.
Rocky Hill ace Shauna Kehoe. Photo credit: Lisa Ullrich Slavin
Shauna Kehoe- Rocky Hill (softball): Kehoe made her high school debut on the mound, pitching a complete game, allowing only three hits and striking out four as Rocky Hill defeated Maloney 6-4. Head coach Tyler Catlin called Kehoe’s opening day start a “gusty performance on the hill”. The sophomore sensation followed it up with another complete game in a 6-2 victory at Manchester as the Terriers finished the week 2-0.
Zach Nakonechny- Newington (Baseball): Nakonechny was the opening-day starter, striking out nine and allowing only two hits as Newington won 8-3 at South Windsor last Monday. The senior was also outstanding from the plate last week, going 2-3 with an RBI vs South Windsor, and then duplicating that feat in a 12-2 home-opening victory over Enfield.
Lily Kenney- Cromwell (Softball): Kenney won both games from the mound last week, pitching a no-hitter and shutting out East Hampton on Monday and then allowing only two hits and striking out 12 vs Morgan on Wednesday. The sophomore was also spectacular from the plate, connecting on five hits for seven RBIs and three runs in the two wins.
Tino Gagliardi- Cromwell (Baseball): Gagliardi drove in eight runs on four hits, including a grand slam in the fifth inning, as Cromwell defeated Morgan 15-11 last Wednesday. The senior captain helped right the ship for a Panthers team that dropped the first two games.
Cooper Moreau- Wethersfield (Lacrosse): Moreau showed his resiliency in goal, stopping 21 of 28 shots to help Wethersfield boys lacrosse pick up the program’s first official win as a varsity program. The junior allowed only one goal after the first quarter, as the Eagles rallied from a 6-1 deficit to beat Granby 8-7 at WHS on April 10. Head coach Bruce Cutkomp praised Moreau’s efforts, saying, “his leadership was instrumental in the team’s confidence being reinvigorated and turn the game around.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin