The final whistle sounded and the scoreboard at Plainville High School read 48-13.
Rocky Hill football has been on the winning side of many lopsided scores over the past three seasons, but last Friday night they were on the losing end at Tinty Stadium as the home Blue Devils dealt the Terriers another tough defeat.
“It’s growing pains,” said Rocky Hill had coach Mark Fritz after his team fell to 1-2, “This team needs to learn how to win and we’re going through that right now but we’ll get there.”
Plainville’s offense generated one big play after another and fleet-footed quarterback Frank Griffin, playing in his first game of the season, had a debut to remember. The senior scored three touchdowns on the ground and tossed another, helping the Blue Devils improved to 2-1.
The win also snapped a three-game losing streak against their rivals from Rocky Hill.
“A lot of it is just effort plays,” Fritz said about the team’s defensive breakdowns, “We’re doing some things that when you look at it on film it just doesn’t make sense and that falls on me. I have to do a better job getting them ready for the week and we’ve got to do a better job tackling.”
Allowing 48 points is never a good thing, but it wasn’t all bad for a Rocky Hill defense that forced three turnovers. Eric Callahan recovered a pair of fumbles and Omar Ahmed intercepted a pass in defeat.
Offensively the Terriers moved the ball between the 20s but were unable to capitalize once they reached the red zone.
Playing in their first road games of the season, the Terriers took the opening kickoff and drove 46 yards in 10 plays, advancing deep into Plainville territory, but on their eleventh play quarterback Ja’quan Graham was picked off by Christian Collin at the 10-yard line.
It was the first of four interceptions (two inside the 20) for the home team, who also blocked a punt.
Rocky Hill had another drive stall just outside the red zone when a series of penalties backed them up before they eventually turned the ball over on downs.
“It was a lot of self-inflicted penalties. We did a lot of silly things out there,” added Fritz, “We got penalties to kill drives and you can’t do that. We did some good things and moved the ball but when we get inside the 20 we’ve got to be able to finish.”
Graham and the offense did show some potential, showcasing their own big play ability.
Trailing 7-0 following Griffin’s first touchdown, a six-yard keeper on the first play of the second quarter, the Terriers responded when Graham connected with running back Shane Gallagher for a 65-yard equalizer.
Graham rolled left and threw across his body to Gallagher, who split two defenders and raced to the end zone.
“He plays hard every single play, which is all that I can ask,” Fritz said of Graham, who is replacing three-year starter Danny Cavallaro, “He’s come a long way as a leader and for a first-year quarterback he’s doing some really good things. I’m excited to see him keep progressing.”
Gallagher was also responsible for the Terriers other touchdown, a scoring sprint from 28 yards out in the fourth quarter. The senior is the feature back behind Graham, combining with Nico Capasso and Matt Sevigny to form a strong and potentially potent backfield in Rocky Hill.
For Plainville it was a night filled with scoring.
Griffin added a 45-yard scoring scramble and a 26-yard scoring strike to Marcos Gutierrez before halftime, providing the Blue Devils a 21-7 advantage at the break. Griffin scored his final touchdown from three yards out with 4:14 left in the third and then speedy back Brendan Quilter exploded for touchdowns runs of 74 and 56 yards. Felix Laoz capped the scoring with a 13-yard sweep late in regulation.
The big plays surrendered, combined with costly penalties, are some of the things that Fritz believes are correctable and are part of the growing process.
“We have a new team playing football. A lot of it was frustration tonight when the score did get out of hand, but that’s just unacceptable. For our program and my coaching staff we’re not going to accept that going forward. We’ll learn from tonight.”
This isn’t Fritz’ first rodeo and he can lean on the experience from five years ago when he first took over the head coaching duties. His 2014 team had several underclassmen starting, finishing 5-6, and then the 2015 season began with a 34-0 loss to Avon.
However things quickly turned around as the Terriers went on to win 26 of 27 regular season games, earning back-to-back postseason berths the past two seasons, which included a state championship appearance in 2016.
Large graduating classes in 2016 and 2017, including 16 seniors from a season ago, have forced a rebuild in Rocky Hill but that’s something that Fritz has done before and will no doubt do again.
“A lot of these guys hadn’t play varsity football before this year so for a lot of these kids this is there third varsity football game ever. Some of the kids last year had played 40 varsity football games by the time they graduated,” recalled Fritz, “When you have that many kids experiencing varsity football for the first time it’s going to take a while but we have a good group of kids that want to succeed and they want to be coached.”
The new-look Terriers started the season with a 21-14 victory over Northwest Catholic but have been outscored by 91 points over the last two weeks, including a 56-0 loss to Bloomfield in week two.
Next up is Tolland (1-2), who come to RHHS this Friday, Sept 28, for a 7 pm kick.
“Our effort, I want great effort on every single play,” Fritz said when asked what he’s like to see from his team going forward, “Whether they mess up or not, it’s ok as long as we give great effort on every play.”
The Starting Five: Local Athletes of the Week
J.J. Tracy- Cromwell (Soccer): Tracy had a phenomenal week, scoring four goals in a 4-2 win over Coginchaug, and following it up with a pair of goals in a 3-3 tie with East Hampton. The senior captain is a four-year varsity performer for the Panthers and was a first-team All-Shoreline Conference player and an all-state selection last fall.
Xzavier Reyes- Middletown (Football): Reyes has quietly taken the local football world by storm and had his best performance of the season last Friday night in a 44-7 victory over Hartford Public, rushing for 203 yards and three touchdowns on only 13 carries, a robust 15.6 yards per touch. The senior running back now has 468 yards and eight touchdowns through three games, making him an early all-state candidate.
McKenna DeLuca- Newington (Filed Hockey): Deluca scored two goals in 4-1 win over East Catholic last Monday. The junior is having a breakout field hockey season this fall and is also an accomplished softball player, earning all-conference last spring.
Amanda Schuman- Rocky Hill (Volleyball): Schuman had 15 assists, three kills, and an ace in a four set victory over Middletown last Friday. The senior setter is one of the team’s captains and entered the week averaging three assists per set.
Mark Accarpio- Wethersfield (Soccer): Accarpio is the goalkeeper and anchored the defense as Wethersfield posted two shutouts last week; a 2-0 road win at Berlin and a 6-0 home victory over Windsor. The senior is in his third year starting in goal for the Eagles.
The Rocky Hill Athletic Hall of Fame Committee is pleased to announce the newest inductees into the Rocky Hill Athletic Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recognizes individuals and groups who have made a distinctive and significant contribution to athletics in Rocky Hill. The newest members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2018 are:
Rachel Carey, posthumously, Softball Excellence
Carl Lombardo, Coaching (soccer) 1995-2009
Katie Matthews, Cross Country and Track Excellence
Dale Spencer, Soccer Excellence
Rocky Hill Softball Junior League All-Star Team 2000 Connecticut State Champions
The Rocky Hill Football Club, Founding Members, John J. McVicar Distinguished Service Award
These individuals and groups will be honored at the 15th Induction Ceremony to be held at the Wethersfield Country Club, 76 Country Club Road in Wethersfield on Sunday, November 18, 2018. The event will begin at 1:00 PM, with a light buffet being served. Tickets are $40.00 for adults and
$10.00 for children under 10. All proceeds from this event will continue to fund scholarships at Rocky Hill High School for deserving college bound student athletes.
Details on tickets to the event or for placing a congratulatory ad in the program booklet can be obtained by contacting the Hall of Fame Committee by e-mail at HOF06067@gmail.com. You can also follow us on Facebook for the latest induction ceremony information at facebook.com/rockyhillhalloffame.
(Sara Caceres serves for Newington)
Chris Wanner has preached togetherness since the first day she took over as the girls’ volleyball coach at Newington High School. Her message is becoming clearer with each passing season.
Last Wednesday night Wanner and her team showcased that togetherness with a three set (25-6, 25-21, 25-8) victory over rival Rocky Hill in their home opener at Richard Rogalski Gymnasium, improving the team to 2-0.
“It’s been part of the core values that we’ve really committed to as a program. The players are really responsive to it and they really bring each other up. They’re a team, like a family for sure,” Wanner said of the 2018 squad, “I’ve worked to develop that and the players have responded really well. Over the year the captains and upperclassmen take on certain roles working with the underclassmen. It helps create that environment of confidence and playing with poise and playing together.”
The team is looking to build on the success of last season when they won 14 regular season games and won a state tourney match for the first time under Wanner, defeating East Hartford in the opening round of Class LL tournament.
Senior setter Azya Bass led the way in the win over Rocky Hill, serving up five aces and two kills. Bass is a two-year starter and has been playing varsity since her sophomore season.
“Her experience absolutely helps. The setter is always important because they are managing the second ball all the time,” the coach said of her returning setter, “I think what really helps us is that everyone does their part and that everyone does the right things at the right times. I think that is a key to why we’re successful so far.”
Bass and Carelys Benitez have formed a special bond and their connection on the court is a noticeable.
“We’re very good friends,” said Benitez, who shined as a sophomore a season ago and has taken her game to another level this fall, “Last year I was not as intense as this year. My defense got better and I tried to improve overall.”
Benitez is normally an outside hitter but due to an injury was filling in as the team’s libero, finishing the match with nine digs, three aces, and two kills.
Bass and Benitez set the tone early as the Indians scored the first six points of the match before coasting to a 19-point win in the opening set.
Senior Alaysiah Hall also had a big opening frame, serving up three of her four aces.
The fast start against Rocky Hill and strong start to the season is something that Wanner credits to experience.
“We’re doing things at the start of the season that we weren’t necessarily doing earlier on in past seasons,” added the fourth-year coach, “We have a little more depth off the bench. One of our players was injured so I played around with the lineup and their experience allows me to do that.”
Juniors Sara Caceres (a team-high 10 digs) and Jola Buffi (two kills and a pair of blocks) are thriving in their starting roles.
Sophomore Madison Massaro-Cook has also stepped into the starting spotlight, registering a team-high seven kills in a season opening straight-sets victory at New Britain.
“Madi loves the game and she played varsity as a freshman. She’s been picking it up really quickly, which is great,” Wanner said of the middle hitter.
Wanner’s team dropped their first set and match of the season last Friday, losing to E.O. Smith in four sets. Hall has a team-high 24 digs and nine kills in defeat.
On the other side of the court, the loss was Rocky Hill’s first of the season after defeating Wethersfield in the season opener.
“This is a team that is learning and growing every day,” said head coach Jackie Valliere, “We’re considered a younger team, we only have three seniors so we are learning and developing sophomores to grow into those roles for this year and next year. It’s definitely a learning year for us, but I’m confident that we can be in a better place than we were tonight.”
The Terriers were unable to capture a set at Newington but showed some good signs along that way.
After a disastrous first set and after falling behind 18-12 in the second, the Terriers clawed their way back into the set by scoring nine of the next 14 points.
Senior captains Julia O’Connor, Amanda Schuman, and Isabelle Miazga led the charge.
“Amanda has improved immensely over the offseason, she’s a really amazing setter and Isabelle is our libero. When everyone is on their game they complement each other very well.”
O’Connor is a two-time all-conference selection and was the driving force behind the win over Wethersfield, compiling an impressive stat line of 17 digs, 15 kills, 10 aces, and five blocks.
“She’s definitely someone who has worked hard to get to where she is and she put in some really hard work in the offseason. She played year round, she challenged herself and she has grown in her role,” Valliere said of O’Connor, “She’s able to be a leader on the court and off the court. She can adapt to any situation and be an asset for me all the way around.”
Valliere’s hope going forward is that the team looks more like the energetic group from the win over Wethersfield opposed to the team that struggled during the loss to Newington.
“Tonight was really tough, that wasn’t the team that I remember from Friday,” Valliere recalled of the three set win over Wethersfield on Sept 7, “They were communicating extremely well, they were acting as a team, they were taking chance, and that is something that I always try and teach them, to go for it at all costs because you never know where greatness can come from.”
Last season the team lost five straight to start the season before battling back to win seven of their final 15 games, finishing within a game of a tournament qualification. 2017’s resiliency showed the direction and attitude that Valliere want the program to have.
“That’s the culture and environment that I try to instill. We want to always be better than the last play or the last set, so never giving up and working hard to the very last second and always improving. We always want to strive to do better and do our best each and every time and each and every day. It’s a good indication that it can happen and it will happen for us.”
The team will next host Middletown, Friday, Sept 21 at 5 p.m.
Game Notes: Turning Point- Caceres Thwarts Rocky Hill’s Rally
After the Terriers had narrowed the deficit to 23-21 in the second set, Caceres had one of her two kills on the evening. Caceres served out the set as the Indians won a long rally, which consisted of 15 hits. Newington’s momentum bled over into the third and final set where they scored the first five points.
The Starting Five: Local Athletes of the Week
Sadie Budzik- Cromwell (Volleyball): Budzik had 14 kills and five aces (including serving 19 service point in a row) in a four set win over Valley Regional last Thursday. The junior outside hitter is a team captain and has been spectacular during the Cromwell’s 4-0 start, totaling 30 kills and 21 aces. Budzik is a three-sport star at CHS, also excelling on the basketball court and softball diamond.
Lorien Touponse- Wethersfield (Field Hockey): Touponse had a memorable week, scoring three goals in a 4-0 victory over Windsor and dishing out an assist in a 1-0 win over Stafford. The sophomore is a natural playmaker with tremendous vision and is a vocal leader on the field. Her efforts helped the Eagles start the season 2-0 for the first time since 1988.
Emma Molloy- Rocky Hill (Soccer): Molloy is a four-year varsity starter and an outstanding center defender for the Terriers. The team dropped their first two games of the season but Molloy’s strength and good sense on defense helped defend and start the attack. The senior captain is definitely a player to watch.
Olivia Mullings- Newington (Soccer): Mulling posted a hat trick, scoring three goals in a 5-0 shutout of Rocky Hill last Wednesday night. The sophomore sensation is one of the many threats on the offensive end for an Indians team that put up 13 goals through their first two games this season.
Xzavier Reyes- Middletown (Football): Reyes rushed for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Blue Dragons dominated Bristol Eastern 41-7 last Friday. The senior steamroller has been the leader of Middletown’s highly-productive rushing attack, totaling 289 totals and five touchdowns over the first two games.
(Middletown's Xzavier Reyes is tackled by Wethersfield's Connor Pace)
Middletown running back Xzavier Reyes picked up where he left off last fall, rushing for 135 yards and three touchdowns in the Blue Dragons 38-20 season-opening victory over Wethersfield last Friday night at MHS.
“I feel stronger this year. More is expected of me but I feel I can absolutely handle it,” said Reyes, who tallied 1163 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior in 2017, “It’s my last year here and it was just time to step up.”
The senior led a potent ground game, which amassed 357 yards and accounted for all five Middletown touchdowns.
Playing in front of a large home crowd, the Blue Dragons took the opening kickoff and drove 52 yards in seven plays, which culminated with a one-yard scoring plunge from Reyes.
Reyes and first-year starting quarterback Jonta’e Dempsey accounted for the entire yardage on the drive, running behind a talented offensive line that created huge lanes.
Joh’Nel Fields-Gomez, Eric Alicae, Brady Foster, Cameron Barrett, Nygell Smikle, and Osbourne Richards helped pave the way for the stable of backs.
“They were very important tonight,” Reyes said of the men upfront, “I’m very grateful for them and I thank them for working hard because I don’t know if I could block like that every play.”
Wethersfield nearly countered on the next drive, but Craig Elliott’s 61-yard scoring toss to Connor Pace was called back because of an illegal procedure penalty.
On the first play of the second quarter Reyes again carried it over from a yard out, upping the advantage to 14-0.
The rivalry game looked to be headed in the same direction as the last two annual meetings, in which Middletown won by a combined 48 points, but Wethersfield showed their resolve and responded with three straight scoring drives.
Elliott got things started with a 63-yard touchdown bomb to Luke Kelleher five minutes into the second quarter. Facing a third down, Elliott lofted a perfect pass down the right seam, which Kelleher caught in stride before taking it to the house.
Kicker Mike Messina added a 30-yard field goal late in the half, narrowing the deficit to 14-10 at the break.
“You want to come out and have a better start. We had to play our best game to be successful against a team like Middletown but I was happy that we did come back and that we didn't put our heads down right away,” said Wethersfield head coach John Campanello.
The road team’s momentum carried over into the second half as the Eagles took the opening kickoff and methodically worked down the field before settling for a 27-yard field goal from Messina. Elliott connected with Pace four times on the time consuming drive, which was aided by a roughing the punter penalty.
Momentum shifted of the ensuing kickoff as a controversial ruling awarded a touchback to Middletown.
The Blue Dragons made the most of the opportunity, scoring five plays later on a 35-yard leg-churning run from Tyreece Lumpkin. The senior, who finished with 131 total yards, looked to be stopped near the line of scrimmage by a host of defenders but he broke several arm tackles before sprinting to pay dirt, giving the home team an eight-point advantage with 5:42 to play in the third.
Middletown’s defense took over from that point on, intercepting Elliott three times. Dempsey picked off two of the passes and Reyes snared the other off a deflection.
“You’ve got to be nasty on defense and that’s what our coaches preach. That’s what we come out here and do to the best of our abilities,” Reyes said about his two-way duties.
Reyes and Dempsey created the turnovers, but Tavien Harris did the dirty work inside. The senior lineman had three sacks and four tackles in his debut as a starter.
“It feels great. It starts with the line, you’ve got to get the push on offense and get behind the line on defense,” said Harris, who is filling the void of the notable linemen who graduated in 2017, “We did lose a lot of people so we’ve got some big shoes to fill and I’m trying to fill them.”
Sophomore Matthew Aresco, younger brother of record-breaking kicker and 2017 graduate Mike Aresco, added a 26-yard field goal late in the third quarter and Reyes scored his third of the night from 32-yards out early in the fourth.
DaJaun Lomotey put the finishing touches on the victory with a 12-yard scoring run midway through the fourth.
Despite the changing faces the Blue Dragons have been the standard for consistency over the past seven season, winning 54 of 63 regular season games dating back to 2012.
The current group isn’t focused on past successes and is all business in 2018.
“We take it game by game and practice by practice. We have to work hard every day,” stated Reyes, “Today was to have fun and tomorrow it’s back to work.”
“We grind all summer and that’s what we do,” added Harris, “It’s about the team and we’ve all been working in the weight room and with conditioning. We work, we work, we work.”
Next up for Middletown is a three-game road trip, starting at Bristol Eastern on Friday, Sept 14 at 6:30 pm.
Despite the loss Wethersfield had a lot of positives. Elliott showed a lot of moxie behind center and sophomore defensive back Zak Zurzola had a stellar night. Pace also showed his versatility, playing a variety of positions including scoring a late touchdown on a 14-yard quarterback keeper.
A couple of controversial calls and a few untimely turnovers prevented the score from being closer than it was, but Campanello is hoping to build on the positives from Friday night.
“We can’t afford to make those mistakes and you can’t make those mistakes against a good team like Middletown. I thought the kids played until the end and didn’t give up on the game, so I thought that part was good. We’ll have to learn from it and cut down on the mistakes,” stated the veteran coach, “I’m optimistic, I believe in moving on and that each team will get their own identity. We’re trying to establish our identity and in the weeks to come we’ll have an idea of what our identity is going to be.”
The Eagles start a three-game home stand at Cottone Field, beginning with E.O. Smith on Friday, Sept 14 at 7 pm.
Game Notes: Turning Point- Controversy on the Kickoff
After Wethersfield cut the deficit to 14-13 early in the third, Messina’s kickoff was muffed and the ball traveled back towards the goal line. The returner picked up the ball and was immediately tackled into the end zone, where the ball was fumbled and Wethersfield recovered. There were several calls the officials could have made, including awarding either a safety or a touchdown to the Eagles. The officiating staff determined that the returner was in the end zone when he established possession, thus making it a touchback. Upon further review it looked as if the returner established possession inside the field of play and was knocked back into the end zone before fumbling, meaning that a forward progress ruling would apply and Middletown should have been given the ball at their own one-yard line. It was just one of the many interesting plays that made Friday night’s game, and all football games for that matter, exciting and intriguing.
The Starting Five: Local Athletes of the Week
Olivia Belcourt- Cromwell (Soccer): Belcourt scored 2 goals in back-to-back wins this past week, scoring a goal each in wins over Old Saybrook and North Haven. She has now scored 30 career goals and looks to continue to build on her school-record 28 assists. Belcourt is a senior, and a first-team Shoreline conference player. Off the field, she loves spending time outdoors with her family and friends.
Matthew Lecky- Middletown (Cross Country): Lecky placed first in the Blue Dragon Invitational, helping host Middletown place second overall. Lecky is a two-time all-conference selection and is coming off a fifth place finish at the 2017 Class L finals. Off the course, he’s an accomplished chemist and was part of school’s team that took first-place at the annual statewide Chemistry Olympiad last April.
Louis Egbuna- Newington (Soccer): Egbuna scored the lone goal in Newington’s season-opening 1-0 triumph over rival New Britain last Friday night. The senior scored in the 21st minute and the Indians stonewall defense cemented the shutout. Egbuna is a multi-sport star at Newington, best known for his dominance and as a two-time state champion on the volleyball court.
Julia O’Connor- Rocky Hill (Volleyball): O’Connor started her senior season with an epic performance, tallying 17 digs, 15 kills, 10 aces, and five blocks in Rocky Hill’s three-set victory over Wethersfield last Friday. She’s a two-time all-conference selection that works tirelessly on her game, playing year round in summer camps and club teams in the winter and spring. O’Connor is aiming to play collegiate volleyball next fall.
Alexis Szymecki- Wethersfield (Soccer): Szymecki scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Rocky Hill last Friday night help the Eagles open the season with a conference win. The senior captain is a star on the soccer fields and a star in the classroom, regularly earning academic honors at WHS.
(Wethersfield quarterback Craig Elliott is back for an Eagles football team loaded with seniors)
Middletown and Wethersfield highlight kickoff weekend as they battle at Middletown High School on Friday, Sept 7 at 7 pm. The rival teams have split the last four meetings, with the Blue Dragons winning each of the last two years.
Middletown won all ten regular season games a year ago behind a balanced attack. The Blue Dragons offense could look a whole lot different this season but their defense has many familiar faces returning, including standouts Stephen Hill Jr, Gage Davis, Osbourne Richards, and Mike Foster.
Wethersfield won only four games a season ago but has a ton of experience coming back this fall, including a healthy Craig Elliott at the helm. Connor Pace, David Colon, Bobby Balesano, Luke Kelleher, John Tine, Mitchell Quadrato, and Austin Harnish are just a few of the players who made big impacts a season ago and will be back in starting roles this year.
Cromwell/Portland just missed the playoff, finishing 8-2 in 2017. Senior captain Bryce Karstetter is back under center for a third straight season and he’ll be counted on more than ever after the departure of many key pieces on offense. Head coach Randall Bennett will be tasked with replacing some anchors along both sides of the line of scrimmage but that’s his specialty so expect the Panthers to be solid in the trenches again. Keep your eyes on seniors Devon Kilham, Kevin Hinkle, Zac Cyr, Dudley Salmon, and Bryan Lockwood, who could all be primed for breakout seasons. The Panthers open at home (Pierson Park) against Rockville on Friday, Sept 7 at 6 pm.
Newington finished 3-7 last fall during Jason Pace’s first season on the local sidelines. There will be plenty of new faces on the field this season but senior Brandon Kamansky and junior Julian Mulero are back to help solidify both sides of the ball. Junior Keenan Esau seems to be the frontrunner to take over the quarterbacking duties, after getting some experience under center a season ago, but it could be an open competition. Newington has back-to home games to start the season, including the opener against Amistad on Friday, Sept 7 at 6:30 pm.
For the second straight season Rocky Hill graduated a large senior class after finishing the regular season undefeated and advancing to the semifinals. Head coach Mark Fritz only has a handful of senior this season as he looks to retool both sides of the ball. Senior Belall Matar and juniors Alex Boutin and Ja’quan Graham will assume bigger roles this season as the Terriers aim for a third straight postseason appearance. The team opens at home against Northwest Catholic on Friday, Sept 7 at 7 pm.
Wethersfield won five games and qualified for postseason before taking #1-seed Pomperaug to the limit in the opening round of the tourney. Head coach Colleen Budaj graduated a lot of senior leadership but will have a hungry group looking to build off last season’s success. The Eagles home opener is Monday, Sept 10 against Stafford at 4:15 pm.
Newington didn’t win a game last season but have all-conference player Maya Gajowiak returning for her senior season. The Indians have a chance to get off to a fast start, playing five of their first seven at home including a battle with Wethersfield on Friday, Sept 21 at 3:45 pm.
Rocky Hill and Wethersfield start the season in style, facing one another at McVicar field at RHHS on Friday, Sept 7 at 3:45 pm. Wethersfield is coming off an 11-win season, including a tourney win, while Rocky Hill struggled through a 5-11 season last fall, but the arrow is pointing up with all-conference players Chris Conlan and Jake Rajotte returning.
Newington won only five games a year ago but 2018 should be a different story with the return of three all-conference player in Hermish Adarkwah, Trey Sadler, and Aslan Tate. The Indians home opener is against Rocky Hill on Wednesday, Sept 12 at 6 p.m.
Cromwell advanced deep in the Class S tourney last fall and nearly upset the eventual champion, Morgan, in the quarterfinals. The Panthers open at home against rival Morgan on Friday, Sept 7 at 6 pm.
Rocky Hill and Wethersfield are both coming off successful campaigns and will clash at Cottone Field to start the 2018 season on Friday, Sept 7 at 6:30 pm.
The Terriers won 15 games, including a pair of tourney games, before losing on penalty kicks to the eventual Class M champs, Granby, in the quarterfinals. The team could be even better this season as they return four all-conference players in Annie White, Bella Montalvo, Nicole Zarrilli, and Sarah Zarrilli.
The Eagles won 11 regular season games a season ago and also have a lot of talent returning, including Alyssa Prosperi and goaltender Megan Keleher.
Cromwell is fresh off a 12-win season and a quarterfinals appearance in 2017. The Panthers have a chance to get off to a fast start with four of their first six games at home, including the opener against Old Saybrook on Thursday, Sept 6 at 6 pm.
Newington is primed for a breakout season after splitting their games last season. All-conference players Abby Molloy, Zoe Walk, and Olivia Mullings return and there is plenty of young talent behind them. The Indians open at home, hosting New Britain on Friday, Sept 7 at 3:45 pm, before travelling to Rocky Hill for a measuring stick game against the Terriers on Wednesday, Sept 12 at 6 pm.
Newington and Rocky Hill square off in a pivotal early-season match as the Indians welcome the Terriers to NHS for a match on Wednesday, Sept 12 for a match at 6 pm.
Newington graduated a lot of leadership and experience after a 15-win season, which included a tourney victory. Filling the voids will be Carelys Benitez, Alaysia Hall, and Sara Caceres, who should all be back after productive 2017 seasons.
Rocky Hill missed the postseason a year ago and lost two captains to graduation but superstar Julia O’Connor returns for her senior season.
Cromwell won 14 matches, including a pair in the tourney, a season ago before losing some key pieces. Captains Aijha Caccio and Sadie Budzik will assume bigger roles as the team opens the regular season at home against Old Lyme on Thursday, Sept 6 at 5:30 pm.
Wethersfield made the tourney last fall before graduating three all-conference players. The Eagles will have a lot of new faces on the court as they travel to Rocky Hill for their season opener on Friday, Sept 7 at 5 pm.
Cromwell hosts their 8th annual CT River Valley Invitational on Saturday, Sept 15 at 7 a.m. The host Panthers will have senior Emma Drzewiecki and sophomore Taylor Santos pacing the girls, while Connor Daly leading the way for the boys.
Wethersfield will join the festivities at CHS as Michael Dunn will head the boys’ squad and Isabella Samse will pace the girls.
Elizabeth Stockman and Lilah Devine return to the course for Rocky Hill after finishing first and third in the Class M finals last fall. The Terriers will host Northwest Catholic at Elm Ridge Park on Tuesday, Sept 11 at 3:45 pm.
Middletown is loaded with speed on both sides, including Matthew Lecky, Ariana Monarca and Nicole Nenninger. The school will host the Blue Dragons Invitational on Friday, Sept 7 at 3:30 pm.
Newington returns talented trail blazers Samuel Geisler, Aiden Toth, and Samantha Gorski.
Wethersfield always sets the standard in the pool and this season should be no different. The Eagles are coming off a 5th place finish in Class L after winning all ten regular season meets. State champion Abigail Francis is back for her senior season as the team starts with three straight homes meets, beginning with Conard on Tuesday, Sept 11 at 5 pm.
Newington’s first home meet is Friday, Sept 14 against Middletown at 4 pm.
Rocky Hill’s first home meet is Monday, Sept 17 against East Catholic at 3:45 pm.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin