Rocky Hill's #75 Salvatore Signorello, #5 Ryan Bozzi, and #2 Sean Asante lead the Terriers onto McVicar Field
NBA legend Dominique Wilkins was nicknamed the Human Highlight Reel.
Rocky Hill football that its own Human Highlight Reel in quarterback Tyreice Dominique, who scored four touchdowns and ran for 162 yards as the Terriers defeated Hartford Public 27-15 last Friday night.
Dominique, who was making his home debut under center, found the end zone three times in the first half and added a dagger touchdown in the fourth.
“When Tyreice is on the field you have to plan for what he can do. Even when he’s not carrying the ball the defense is looking at him. They have to honor it because he is so athletic,” said Rocky Hill head coach Rich Dance.
For the humble Dominique, the credit goes to the guys paving the way, “It’s the line. I’d like to thank all the line and my teammates. Everyone was blocking, my receivers were blocking, that’s the only reason I had four touchdowns. It really isn't me, they made holes and I just ran through them.”
Rocky Hill’s undersized offensive line pushed around Hartford Public’s bulky defensive line. Center Gator Sjoblom anchored a line that also features starters Salvatore Signorello, Desmond Connolly, Grayson Spalding, and Christopher Adamczyk.
The unit allowed the Terriers to control the tempo from start to finish, totaling 247 rushing yards on 35 carries.
“Up front we knew they were going to be bigger than us and that doesn’t phase us. At Rocky Hill the teams are always bigger than us, but it’s about how we block and how we get to the angles and drive guys out. Those five guys have been in our system for three years,” Dance said of his offensive line, “Our game plan doesn’t change, our playbook doesn’t change. We’re going to run until someone stops us.”
The Terriers, who hadn’t hosted a game since mid-November 2019, were amped to play under the lights of McVicar Field. Following a season-opening win at East Catholic, the team had their scheduled home opener against Avon postponed due to COVID complications.
“This was probably the biggest game in four years for Rocky Hill. We knew we had to get this win to keep out moment going,” said defensive captain Alex Peruta, “We have a really supportive crown and wanted to come out in front of this crowd and win. It really motivated us.”
Eight minutes into the contest, Dominique found the end zone when he kept a read-option and scrambled 19 yards for the game’s opening score.
The Owls counter on the following possession when Traquan Hodge hauled in a beautiful 55-yard rainbow pass from TaSani Roach, providing the visitor their first and only lead at 7-6 with 1:50 to play in the first quarter.
The long touchdown strike was a rare breakdown for the Terriers, who stymied the potent Owls’ offense. Hartford Public enter Rocky Hill 2-0, having scored 57 total points in the two wins.
Peruta said the defense was ready for the challenge, “We widened out our defense. We figured out they kept trying to go outside, so if we widened out it bring everything back inside and it let the linebackers and the safeties come up to makes those plays. It really worked.”
Rocky Hill trailed for only three plays. Running back MJ Torres, who finished with 85 rushing yards, got the next drive going with a nine-yard run which was followed by a Dominique 50-yard dash down the right sideline to the one-yard line. On the next play, the senior signal caller kept it himself for the go-ahead score on the first play of the second quarter.
Ryan Bozzi broke up a fourth down pass on Hartford Public’s next possession and Dominique quickly went back to working, converting a third down by scampering 20 yards to keep the drive going, before breaking a pair of tackles and scoring from 16-yards out on the following play.
Up 21-7 with 9:10 left in regulation, Dominique put the finishing touches on his four-TD night by knifing up the middle and carrying a defender on his back into the end zone for a 23-yard score.
Dance praised Dominque’s effort, “He’s a senior, he’s a leader, he’s coachable and I must say to him two or three times a game, ‘hey Tyreice, just go win the game for us’.”
On the following possession, Hartford Public’s Christian Garcia scored from a yard out and ran in the two-point conversion to narrow the deficit to 27-15.
However, as he did all night, Dominique came up with one more highlight. The versatile quarterback, who also doubles as a defensive back, broke up a fourth down pass to end Hartford Public’s last offensive possession.
“It was just a great team win, we did it together,” said Dominique, “Shout out to Hartford, they are a great team, but also shout out to our defense.”
Dance agreed with his quarterback. The third-year coach said he was impressed with how his team played in all three phases.
Kicker/punter Body Troiano had a handful of booming kicks, which changed field position. Troiano is also a playmaking edge rusher, who made several keys stops defensively.
Dance said of the 6’3” Troiano, “He is a force on the outside. The kid has put it all together. He worked on his body, he’s in fantastic shape, he’s strong, he’s fast, and he can kick. Brody is a big part of our team.”
Rocky Hill’s defensive backfield had a busy night and was up to the challenge. Junior cornerback Frankie Guerrera, who is also the team’s leading receiver, broke up a pair of passes and had two tackles in the backfield.
“Nothing phases these guys, they’re just tough kids,” Dance said of the defensive mindset, “Most of those guys play both ways, so they stepped up to the occasion especially in a game like this with the size differential. We're incredibly proud of the way they performed tonight and excited for what is to come.”
The play that defined the night came on the final play of the first half. Hodge got behind the Terriers secondary and hauled in a deep pass from Garcia, but Peruta (who plays linebacker) tracked down and tackled the speedy receiver before he broke the goal line. The play would have been negated by a penalty for an illegal man downfield on the Owls, yet Peruta’s hustle showed the grittiness and heart of the Terriers.
“It’s that never give up attitude. Alex plays sideline to sideline, he’s a ball hawk and a downhill player. The sky is the limit for him,” said Dance, “Those plays can be the difference between a win and a loss.”
He continued, “It’s been a long time since Rocky Hill has had a win like this. We’re proud and we know there’s a lot of work to do but we are excited to see where the season is headed.”
Next is another tough home date against Notre Dame-Fairfield (1-1) on Friday, Oct 1 at 7:00.
“We look forward to challenge,” Dance said of the upcoming non-conference game “These guys are going to be ready. Our confidence is sky high but we have to keep working, it’s a long season.”
#7 Tyreice Dominique is flanked by MJ Torres / #1 Frankie Guerrera plays man coverage against HP's Jaheim Cole
Bella Montalvo- Rocky Hill (Soccer): Montalvo, a 2020 graduate of RHHS, scored both goals as Western New England University defeated Nichols College 2-0 last Friday. Montalvo, who also scored against Fitchburg State on Sept 11, is tied for the team lead in goals (3) through the Golden Bears first eight games.
Stone Bouchard & Evan Oliver- Newington (Golf): Bouchard and Oliver earned co-medalist as Newington scored a big conference victory (174-182) over Wethersfield last Monday. The Nor’easters won all three meets last week, including a tri-meet over Rocky Hill and New Britain, along with another win over New Britain.
Ryan Gagne- Wethersfield (Cross Country): Gagne ran a 17.59 (5.21 pace) to finish first in Wethersfield’s tri-meet with Windsor and Bulkeley. The Eagles dominated last Tuesday’s meet, taking home the top-five finishes as Gagne was followed by teammates Liam Stec (19.19), Gabriel FrazziniKendrick (19.3), Jake Erickson (19.36), and Joseph Caruk (20.01).
Josiah Ross- Newington (Football): Ross hauled in two more touchdowns as Newington moved to 3-0 with a lopsided 51-6 win over Farmington. The junior now has 22 receptions for 254 yards and five scores through the first three games as the Nor’easters are averaging 45 points per game.
Danny Tuminski & Alex Barnat- Cromwell (Soccer): Tuminski and Barnat each scored go-ahead goals in back-to-back 1-0 wins for the Panthers last week. Tuminski, a junior, scored the game-winning goal with under two minutes remaining in regular in an impressive victory at rival Westbrook last Monday and Barnat, a senior, tallied the lone goal as the Panthers downed East Hampton on Thursday.
Swimming twins Avery Kudlac (L) and Riley Kudlac (R) are breaking records at GHS
Glastonbury High School swimming and diving has been a pillar of consistency in the pool.
Twin sisters Avery and Riley Kudlac are the latest swimming sensations that are helping continue the tradition, shining as individuals and as teammates.
“I love our team, it’s awesome. We have the best team ever,” Riley Kudlac said of the current Guardians squad.
The fraternal twins began swimming in summer programs at the age of four before joining a club team a few years later. The countless hours in the pool, combined with a healthy sibling rivalry, groomed them into two of the premier swimmers in the state.
“We’re competitive with each other, but I feel like most siblings would be being in the same sport,” said Avery Kudlac.
Riley added, “Growing up it was crazy, we would always swim to see who was faster. I think now that we’re older it has died down a little, but It’s definitely helped with how fast we are because we had each other.”
The duo entered GHS with years of experience from club swimming, allowing them to excel as freshmen.
At the 2019 Class LL finals, Riley broke the school record in the 50 freestyle (24.57) in prelims and swam the third fastest time, finishing behind two seniors. She also posted the fourth fastest time in the 100 freestyle (52.87) and joined forces with Norell Paluska, Caroline Cermignani, and Brooke Sowka on a 200 freestyle relay team that finished third.
Avery broke the school record in the 100 butterfly (57.46) in prelims before swimming the fourth fastest time in the event at the class finals. She also placed 7th in the 100 backstroke and teamed with Sowka, Cermignani, and Carleigh Motycka for a third-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay.
The twins were ready to set even higher marks as sophomores, but COVID-restrictions forced virtual swim meets and eliminated conference and state competitions.
Now juniors, the two are back and better than ever, and thrilled to be swimming in front of family and friend again.
“It’s awesome. We love having people watch us and cheer us on because we know so many of the parents and have grown up with them, so it’s nice to have them watch in person,” Riley said.
Avery added, “It’s a much better atmosphere and I feel like I race better.”
Last Tuesday, GHS welcomed swimming & diving fans back for the first meet since October of 2019. It was a triumphant return as the Guardians defeated conference rival Wethersfield.
Avery chalked up victories in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. Riley took home first place finished in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.
The Kudlac sisters also teamed up for a victory in the 200-medley relay. In 2019, they broke a school record in the same event, teaming with Carleigh Motycka and Norell Paluska to swim a 1:47.83.
For both, the glory of winning individual events is great, but they get the most satisfaction winning relays.
“I’ve always loved relays because I think our team is just so close, so getting to swim with them and to hear everyone cheer is my favorite part personally,” Riley said.
Avery added that the two have that extra special connection associated with twins, “I feel like we have a lot of trust in each other, because we are so close. It helps a lot with relay exchanges and knowing how each other swims.”
Both sisters and the GHS swim team have a chance to make major waves at the state finals later this fall.
But for now, they’re just enjoying the moment.
“We just want to keep posting better times and obviously we’d like to do good at states,” added Avery, “I think we have a good chance.”
GHS boys golfer (L-R) Nick Anderson, Charlie Dolan, Gavin Kvadus, Nick DiNino, Connor Goode at Avon Invitational
Boys Golf Defeats Rocky Hill, Wins Avon Invitational
GHS boys’ golf moved to 6-0 with a (156-211) victory over Rocky Hill. Senior Co-Captain Connor Goode was the match medalist, shooting an even-par round of 36 at Glastonbury Hills Country Club. Goode continued his season-long consistent play with seven pars and one birdie. Senior Nick DiNino posted a 37, also showing excellent consistency with eight pars. Seniors Nick Anderson and co-captain Charlie Dolan rounded out the scoring to keep the Guardians undefeated. Head coach Tom Zelek stated, “The team has been playing solid golf and have really taken advantage of the weather and excellent course conditions.”
The team followed up the win over Rocky Hill by winning the Avon Invitational Tournament with a tournament record score of 286 at Tunxis Country Club. This was the Guardians first tournament of the year, finishing ahead of 2nd place Berlin (312) by 26 strokes. Goode and Dolan were the tournament's co-medalists (lowest score of all 70 players), both scoring a (-2) 68 on the par 70 Green Course at Tunxis. DiNino and sophomore Gavin Kvadus both posted excellent scores of 75 to complete the best team score ever posted at this tournament. Zelek, “I couldn’t be happier for the guys, but I can’t say I’m all that surprised at their scores. They have been scoring well all season at our 9-hole matches but all four of these players are strong 18-hole competitors as they play in many tournaments during the summer. There’s a big difference between our high school matches and 18 hole tournaments and these players bring a lot of experience and obviously skill to the course.” Coming into the week, the Guardians are ranked # 1 (11.8 scoring average) in Division 1 Boys Golf.
Girls Cross Country Wins Dual Meet
On September 21, GHS girls’ cross country defeated Conard and Avon (15-50) at Meadow Parks. Glastonbury runners finished in the top-11 spots, led by freshman Brooke Strauss, who won by finishing the 5k course with a time of 18:42. Jackie Caron and Ava Gattinella finished 2nd and 3rd with times of 19:25 and 19:51, followed closely by Jackie Dudus (19:59) and Lucy Bergin (20:04). Sophomore Haley Evans and senior Liv Dickson finished with times of 20:17 and 20:25. Rounding out the top-ten, all with times all under 21 minutes, were GHS runners Kelley MacElhiney (20:40), Sarah Ongley (20:50), and Annika Hurley (20:55).
Boys Cross Country Competes at Dual Meet
GHS boys’ cross country had its second dual meet of the season on Tuesday, September 21st at Fisher Meadows Park in Avon, finishing just behind Avon and Conard on the extremely fast course. Despite the overall finish, the Guardians had an amazing team race with nearly every runner setting a new personal record over the 5000-kilometer distance.
Senior Joseph Accurso led the way, running a time of 15:58 to finish fourth overall. Accurso was followed by junior Harrison Krause in seventh place and senior Kevin Graziosi in eight place, who ran times of 17:16 and 17:23, respectively. Senior Cody Stone had an unbelievable race, coming in with a time of 17:37 to finish in tenth place and beat his previous best by nearly 50 seconds. A trio of young stars in junior Cameron Colletti, sophomore Troy Giaccone, and junior Dominic Pena rounded out the top seven for the Glastonbury boys by finishing consecutively in 17th, 18th, and 19th places overall. Senior Jackson Stone had a great race as well, running a time of 18:56 to come in 23rd place. He was followed closely by fellow senior Chris Andriola, who crossed the line in 19:12 to earn 24th overall.
Many younger runners on the team also had incredible performances, such as freshman Austyn Neidal who ran a time of 19:33. Sophomores Jace Lewis and Max Pawelek both ran well, with each finishing in just over 20 minutes. Freshman Caleb Leon had his best run yet, coming in at 20:51 to finish in 46th place. In his first race of the season, sophomore Dylan Vincelette set a new personal best of 22:10. Other runners with strong efforts included freshman Teddy Corey, sophomore James Amirault, and senior Patrick Quinn, with all three achieving the fastest times of their careers.
Zach Gardner, a 2021 graduate of Glastonbury High School, has made an immediate impact on the soccer fields at Siena College in Loudenville, New York.
Gardner was named the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) rookie of the week after scoring his first college goal on Sept 18. The true freshman scored the go-ahead goal, which turned out to be the game-winner, in the 68th minute as the Saints of Siena defeated Merrimack 2-1. The game and Gardner’s goal were aired live on ESPN3.
“It felt amazing. A culmination of emotions in the moment, but it was surreal to see the ball in the back of the net,” Gardner said of the tie-breaking goal, “Looking back at my younger years of soccer it sounds crazy to say I had my first collegiate goal. Just amazing.”
He followed up his clutch kick with another goal in the 15th minute of the following game against Vermont, which ended in a 2-2 draw on Sept 21. Three days later, he dished out his first college assist, helping set up teammate Bilal Hersi for the decisive goal in the 69th minutes in a come-from-behind win (3-2) over Brown.
Prior to Siena, Gardner earned All-State and All-Conference honors and was a team captain during his playing days at GHS, which included back-to-back Class LL state championships in 2017 and 2018, and an undefeated record in the fall of 2020. Off the field, he was part of National Honor Society and French National Honor Society.
Following his college decision last fall, he stated, “Excited to announce my commitment to play Division I soccer at Siena College. Thanks to my coaches, teammates, friends, and family for helping get here today. On to the next chapter. Go Saints!”
He chose Siena because of the team, campus, and academic programs, He plans on majoring in health studies as he continues living out his soccer dream.
Zach Gardner after scoring his first career college goal, which turned out to a game-winner.
In a game that had a little bit of everything, Wethersfield girls’ soccer scored two goals in the final ten minutes to defeat Rocky Hill 2-0 last Wednesday night.
Senior captain Cindy Biraci scored the go-ahead goal after receiving a pinpoint pass from sophomore Sindy Hima at the 9:54 mark of the second half. Biraci then set up junior Allie Leahy with 5:44 remaining.
Wethersfield’s home opener featured tremendous goalkeeping from both sides, a lengthy lighting delay, and several high-speed collisions between players.
With the game scoreless at the half, Wethersfield head coach Tony Leone modified his starting lineup to provide a spark.
“I came out in the second half and played all the sophomores,” said Leone, “It brought that energy and just like scoring, that energy can be contagious.”
Playing without injured offensive stars Cameryn Wilkinson and Kathleen Brush, the Eagles relied on a strong defense and senior goalie Riley Ford to overcome the early offensive deficiencies.
Defensive standouts Andrea Buzas and Alison Wagner are captaining the team, along with Biraci and Wilkinson.
“They are learning how to be leaders,” stated Leone, “I think they need to be a little bit better at holding each other more accountable, but they will get there. They want to be better leaders, overall I’ve been please with all of them.”
Moments after Biraci’s goal, heat lighting caused what amounted to a 40-minute delay. Once play resumed, Rocky Hill came out on the attack but Ford and the defense stiffened each time prior to Leahy’s insurance goal.
Leone credits his goalie with staying patient over the previous two season when she split time with more experienced keepers, “If Riley was at another school, she would have been a three-year starter. But she’s been a trooper, always positive, and she’s waited for her moment.”
Riley’s counterpart was also up to the challenge. Rocky Hill freshman goalie Emelia Pacheco-Hager showed a skillset and a command protecting the net that is uncommon for a first-year high school player.
Pacheco-Hager was spectacular from start to finish, saving 16 shots, including several diving and sliding stops. Her 16th saved happened
moments before the final horn sounded.
Head coach Annmarie Catania has been thrilled with her new keeper, “Everyone plays better when you see someone paying goalie that that has as much desire and passion that she has, and the way she leaves it on the field is beautiful to watch. I can’t wait to see what becomes of her over the next three years.”
Catania added that Pacheco-Hagar came in with experience against top-notch completion from her work with Premier Soccer prior to her arrival at RHHS.
Defensive captain Sarah Butler helped lead the unit in front of Rocky Hill’s freshman-phenom.
“She’s been able to step up this year,” Catania said of Butler, “She has the confidence, and she’s matured this year. For the seniors this year, it’s a comfort level.”
Fellow seniors Gillian Fernstrom and Rosie Blair are the other captains. Catania praised Fernstrom’s consistency and toughness, and the improvement of Blair’s skillset.
The Terriers had a handful of scoring opportunities against the Eagles, including a couple of solid shot attempts from freshman Kaitlyn Pereau.
Catania said she liked the team’s chemistry and how the team is moving the ball, which she hopes will translate over into more scoring.
“I think this game tonight said a lot about them. I’ve been impressed,” added Catania.
For Wethersfield, the win moved them to 2-0. The Eagles opened the season with a 2-1 win at Windsor. Once fully healthy, Leone hopes the team can increase the scoring and translate the positive energy in practice onto the field.
“We have a good team bond. This team gets along well, so helpfully that will help down the road,” stated Leone, “Everyone is having a good time and communicating in practice and then we get out on the field and everyone is quite. We need to have some balance, we want to be friends but when we get on the field we have to be a little more accountable and a little more critical of one another. That’s what good teammates do.”
Rocky Hill freshman goalie Emelia Pacheco-Hager makes one of her 16 saves against Wethersfield. (Photo credit: Lisa Raczka)
Newington's Paddy Brown and Josiah Ross celebrate a score vs Manchester
Paddy Brown- Newington (Football): Brown threw for 275 yards and five touchdowns as Newington outgunned Manchester 52-42 last Friday. The junior quarterback is the engineer behind a Nor’easters attack that has scored 84 points during the team’s 2-0 start. Next up, a home game against Farmington (0-2) this Friday at 6:30.
Logan Fox- Cromwell (Soccer): Fox had a monster week, scoring and goal and dishing out four assists in the Panthers 6-1win over Coginchaug last Monday and followed is up with a three-goal performance in the 7-0 win over North Branford on Wednesday. The senior is the scoring leader on a Panthers team that has started the season 2-1-1.
Logan Lisella- Wethersfield (Field Hockey): Lisella scored four goals and dished out two assists as Wethersfield started the season with three straight wins. The senior captain, who plays as an attacking midfielder on the right side, is providing an offense spark for an Eagles team has been equally impressive defensively, blanking Somers, E.O. Smith, and Lewis Mills by a combined score of 12-0 over the first three games.
Hannah DeMarco- Newington (Volleyball): DeMarco has a season-high 21 assists and three aces as Newington swept Berlin for their first win of the season last Tuesday. The senior setter also had nine digs, six assists, and a pair of kills in a previous game at Bristol Eastern
Danny Ensign- Rocky Hill (Golf): Ensign is a senior leader for a Terriers team that defeated New Britain last Thursday. He tied for a team-best with junior Ben Allison, each shooting a 43, followed by freshman Alex Kobles-Ciarcia (54) and senior Evan Sikorski (57) as Rocky Hill earned win #2 this fall.
GHS field hockey seniors Christina Guanci (left) and Molly Harding (right) are captaining the Guardians this season
Guardians field hockey had an unblemished record last fall, ending the perfect season with a resounding (7-0) win over Hall to win conference.
Hall got a measure of revenge in the 2021 season opener, winning 2-1 in overtime at Glastonbury High School, yet the team-focused Guardians have rebounded quickly and efficiently.
“One of the things that you have to do is move on. We certainly don’t let them wallow and we knew if we had done certain things better that we had a chance to win that game,” head coach Maureen Perkins said of the loss to Hall, “We put ourselves in position and we used this game and the Hamden game to work on some of the things that we didn’t do that well. We’re still trying to work on those things.”
Perkins was referencing the team’s back-to-back shutouts over Hamden and East Catholic, winning both games by a score of 10-0.
After scoring only one goal in the opener, the Guardians tallied 20 over the next two games thanks to a balanced offensive attack.
Senior captains Molly Harding and Christina Guanci have been producing on the field and mentoring off it.
“They have been really good leaders. They have taken a lot of responsibility,” said Perkins, who is coaching her 23rd year at GHS, “I’m really happy with what I have seen from them.”
The co-captains, who are close friends, are embracing the added responsibilities.
“We had really good leadership on the team last year,” said Guanci, “One of our best friends was a captain on the team last year, so I just tried to emulate what she did and try my best to be a good leader.”
Harding added that shaking off the loss to Hall was important, “We know Hall is always a good game. They are a great team and most of the time it’s us at the end of the year, so we just told [the team] to keep their heads up and use it as motivation for the rest of the season.”
The double-digit win over East Catholic last Tuesday marked the team’s first home win of the season. Harding scored twice and Guanci added a goal and two assists.
Junior forward Alicia Choquette led the way with four goals, upping her season total to seven over the first three games. Choquette and senior Kaitlyn Welsh each dished out three assists.
Welsh also scored a goal, while Hannah David and Grace Boehning each tallied a goal and an assist.
With comfortable leads in each of the last two games, Perkins has been able to play her entire roster.
Sophomore goalie Alex Edwards was able to finish the game between the pipes, replacing starter Kaitlyn Parent
“The deeper we are the better we are,” stated Perkins, “What it does is gives other kids a chance at getting game experience and to show what they can do. It’s really valuable, for younger kids it gives them more confidence to see what they practiced go over to the games and they can see that success.”
Perkins likes the team’s balance, particularly the different skill sets of the eight seniors --- Harding, Guanci, Welsh, Parent, Boehning, David, Grace Mooney, and Kathryn Murphy.
“I’m happy with what I’ve seen from my seniors because they all want it to be successful. I’m really proud of the entire team and we still have a lot of work to do and we’re still figuring out what everyone’s role is going to be, but I think we’re all moving in the right direction,” stated Perkins “Collectively we have seen a number of kids that have improved from this time last year until now. The more we as a group improve, the better we are. We just focus more on the team part of it.”
Perkins’ team ended the week with a 3-1 triumph over Hand on Saturday. The Guardians fell behind 1-0 in the first half before Guanci and Harding connected on the equalizer and again with the insurance goal late in regulation.
Guanci finished with two goals and an assist, while Harding dished out two helpers. Welsh scored the team’s other goal.
With three straight wins, the captains like the direction the team is headed.
“We have a lot of new people in new positions, but as a team we’re just really growing and developing really well,” said Harding, “I feel like we’re going to have a good rest of the season.”
Christina added, “We want to make our team really close, because we play so much better when we’re close. I wanted to make us more of a team and family.”
*Some contributions and writings from GHS coaches, athletes, etc.
Girls XC Hit the Ground Running
Girls’ cross country had a great start to the 2021 season, winning the opening meet at Stratton Brook Invitational in Simsbury on September 11. Glastonbury took first place (23 points), besting New Milford (79 points) and Simsbury (96 points). GHS freshman Brooke Strauss won the individual title, running a time of 20:16 on the 5k course. Junior Jackie Caron (20:27) placed 2nd, while sophomores Ava Gattinella and Jackie Dudus came in 4th and 7th respectively with times of 21:21 and 21:53. Other GHS runners placed in the top-20, included junior Lucy Bergin (21:53), and seniors Annika Hurley (22:21) and Kylie Hilliard (22:21) and (23:12). Glastonbury also had a great showing in the junior varsity race, winning both individually and as a team. Seniors Olivia Dickson and Sarah Ongley finished first and second with times of 22:29 and 22:43.
Boys XC Split First Meet
Boys’ cross country opened with a tri-meet verse Southington and Hall, besting Southington but falling to Hall at JB Williams Park on September 15. Senior Joseph Accurso finished second overall with a performance of 14:07, the fifth best all-time performance for a Glastonbury runner on the course. Senior Kevin Graziosi was the second Glastonbury runner to finish, placing sixth with a time of 15:15, followed by junior Harrison Krause (15:33), senior Cody Stone (15:52), and junior Cameron Colletti (16:21). Freshman Caleb Leon (18:43) and sophomore Troy Giaccone (16:30) also finished with notable times. In the junior varsity race, GHS freshman Austyn Neidal placed third with a time of 17:31. Senior Patrick Quinn (17:37) and sophomore Jace Lewis (17:41) placed fifth and sixth place for the 2.6-mile course.
Boys Soccer Turns the Page
Fresh off a disappointing season-opening loss to a non-conference competitor, boys’ soccer responded like perennial state title contenders with a 6-1 thumping of the Northwest Catholic Lions. Led by an Ali Taleb hat trick combined with the steady support of Adam Molusis (2 goals, 1 assist), the Guardians dominated the action from start to finish.
Just 19 seconds into the contest, Michael Sardo dropped a header at the feet of Taleb, who promptly tapped in his first offering of the afternoon. It would remain 1-0 until a Taleb corner kick found the diving head of Molusis, a lunge of beauty at 25:16 of the first half. At the 9:02 mark, Taleb’s heroics were on full display. Receiving a Vincenzo Greco pass deep in the box, Ali niftily maneuvered between two defenders, tap danced along the end line, and then lofted an impossibly angled chip that floated over the helpless goalie and settled into the back of the net.
A defensive lapse by GHS goalkeeper, Josh Patermo, resulted in what was essentially an own goal to get the Lions on the board at 7:00. But any threats of a momentum swing were erased moments later when Sardo and Taleb executed a textbook cross-center-finish at 5:18. Ali had his third goal, the offense was firing with efficiency, and the rout was on.
As the second half began, it wasn't a matter of if but when the Guardians would build on their 4-1 advantage. That question was answered at 27:49 when Molusis found a streaking Kevin Clarke on the Lions’ doorstep. The duo liked that result so much that Clarke would return the favor 67 seconds later. Patiently working the ball from right to left, Clarke hit Molusis perfectly in stride at the top of the box. The low blast past Northwest Catholic’s defenseless net minder would cap Glastonbury’s scoring at 6-1 and usher in a slew of bleach-blonde reserves with a possession-style of play for the remainder of the match.
Afterward, Glastonbury captain and defensive stalwart Mitch Williams assessed the result, saying, “We played a much more complete game today. Fewer sloppy errors and we controlled the ball for almost all of the time. But still, we can play much better.”
High Five for Boys Golf
Boys’ golf had a busy week, winning three matches in a three-day span to remain undefeated through their first five matches.
The Guardians first upended Berlin (151-163) at Timberlin Golf course in Berlin. Senior co-captain Charlie Dolan took advantage of the beautiful weather, posting an excellent round (-3) 33 to finish as the medalist. Dolan hit eight of nine greens in regulation and only needed 14 putts to record five birdies at this match. Senior co-captain Connor Goode needed only 13 putts and had six pars and a pair of birdies. Sophomore Gavin Kvadus rounded out the teams scoring with a 38. Head coach Tom Zelek said after the match, “Timberlin has always been a good test for the team and I’m very happy with the scores we had at a challenging course.”
The following day, the team breezed by New Britain (149-263) as Goode and Dolan tied for the match medalists, each posting (-1) 35 at Glastonbury Hills Country Club. Goode had eight pars and one birdie aided by hitting seven greens in regulation. Dolan was consistent, hitting six greens and a half dozen more fairways in regulation. The captains, along with Nick DiNino, each made three birdies. Sophomore Gavin Kvadus only needed 11 putts to post a 39 to round out the team’s score. Zelek is pleased with the golf’s move to autumn, “I believe the move to fall golf was the right one as we continue to see excellent scores and experience excellent weather.”
The Guardians closed the week with a (160-178) victory over Wethersfield at Wethersfield Country Club under windy conditions. Goode and Kvadus shared match medalist honors, each posting rounds of 38. Kvadus hit five greens in regulation to help record seven pars. Dolan hit seven greens in regulation and also posting seven pars, finish with a round of 39. Zelek added, “I couldn’t be happier with our play because of the windy conditions and the notoriously tricky greens at Wethersfield. The team handled every challenge they faced.”
GHS Swim and Dive Victorious in Opener
By: Steve Hoyt
The Glastonbury High School Girls Swimming and Diving Team opened the season with an impressive win over a talented Hall High School team last Friday afternoon. The Guardians won 9 of the 12 events, winning the swim meet 104-80 to improve to 9-4 all-time against Hall. Riley and Avery Kudlac stormed out of the gates with perfect 4-win afternoons. Rachel Davis had three impressive wins while Annika Paluska and Brooke Sowka added two important wins each. The single winners were Norell Paluska, Francesca Gionfriddo and Madelynn Booth. For Hall High School, Meghan Tiernan had two wins and Jacqui Fox had one.
The meet started with a bang as Glastonbury turned in a 1-3 finish in the 200 medley relay. The relay team of Riley Kudlac, Norell Paluska, Rachel Davis and Annika Paluska not only won the event by a full second, but also turned in the 5th fastest time in GHS history with a time of 1:51.88. The relay team of Belle Christensen, Heather Newandee, Lauren Lord and Emily Booth finished 3rd and put the Guardians ahead in the meet with the score 10-4 after the first event.
The 200 freestyle was a 1-3-5 finish for GHS. Avery Kudlac dominated the event and won by three seconds. Brooke Sowka was 3rd and Riley Lord was 5th. Both Kudlac and Sowka qualified for the year-end Class LL Meet with their times. Hall’s Meghan Tiernan easily won the 200 individual medley by three seconds. The Guardians would place 2-3-5. Rachel Davis was 2nd, Norell Paluska was 3rd and Vivian Nguyen was 5th. Both Davis and Paluska qualified for the Class LL Meet.
The 50 freestyle was a big event for GHS as they placed 1-2 leaving one of Hall’s top swimmers, Jaqui Fox, all the way back in 3rd place. It was Riley Kudlac and Annika Paluska providing the 1-2 punch and winning the event 10-6 leaving the score of the meet 38-24 entering diving. Both athletes qualified for the Class LL Meet in this event.
The first meet of the season can be a tenuous thing for divers since many of them may not have competed in a meet in their lives and even the upper classmen may not have competed in front of another team or fans in two years due to COVID. This makes for a nervous situation, but the GHS divers performed above and beyond expectations by placing 1-2-4. Francesca Gionfriddo had a dream start to her promising diving career at GHS by winning the event, qualifying for the Class LL meet and turning in the ninth highest score in school history with a 192.80-point performance. Anna Hilary was 2nd and even though her score was above the Class LL qualifying mark, she lacked the required DD by a tenth of a point. Alana Mondschein was 4th with a score of 163.00 points.
After the break, GHS started with 1-3-5 finish in the 100 butterfly. Avery Kudlac dominated again and won the event by two seconds. Julianne Lui had a fantastic finish to place 3rd, edging Hall’s Julia Seguro by six-tenths of a second. Lauren Lord added a 5th place finish. Kudlac qualified for the Class LL Meet with her time.
The Riley Kudlac and Annika Paluska dynamic duo once again placed 1-2 in a sprint freestyle event as they dominated the 100 freestyle. They won the event 10-6, giving the Guardians a commanding 30-point lead with the meet score at 70-40. Both Riley and Annika qualified for the Class LL Meet with their fantastic times. Hall’s Meghan Tiernan dominated the 500 freestyle for her 2nd individual win of the day. Sowka was 2nd with a Class LL qualifying time, freshmen Paeton Romero looked great and placed 4th and Evie Christensen broke six minutes and placed 5th.
The 200 freestyle sprint relay was another great event for GHS as they once again showed off their freestyle strength by placing 1-3 in the event. The relay team of Annika Paluska, Madelynn Booth, Brooke Sowka and Avery Kudlac won the event by over a second while the relay team of Caroline Koziol, Julianne Lui, Emily Booth and Katie Papa placed 3rd.
Hall dominated the 100 backstroke with a 1-2 finish. It was Jaqui Fox in 1st for Hall followed by teammate Gwen Bye in 2nd. GHS placed 3-4-5. Belle Christensen was 3rd, Vivian Nguyen was 4th and Natalie Koziol was 5th.
The 100 breaststroke would be that clinching event as GHS placed 1-3-4. Rachel Davis held off Mindy Zhao from Hall to produce a hard fought win. Norell Paluska was 3rd and Riley Lord was 4th. Both Rachel and Norell qualified for the Class LL Meet. The event score was 11-5 and the meet was over with the score at 104-68. GHS would swim the last event exhibition.
The 400 freestyle relay team of Avery Kudlac, Brooke Sowka, Rachel Davis and Riley Kudlac touched 1st with a 3:43.77, but since they were swimming exhibition, Hall was awarded 1-2 in the event.
Overall, the Guardians had a fantastic opening meet and exceeded expectations making the coaches very proud as they have reported that the athletes have been working very hard at practice and that obviously translated to an impressive win.
Wethersfield RB Jova'n Hill sheds a tackle during the Eagles 20-0 win over Platt at Falcon Field. Photo credit: Michelle Elliott / WHS Football Boosters
Wethersfield football walked off a cold, dark field at New Canaan High School after being eliminated from the playoffs on December 4th, 2019.
Eagles head coach Matt McKinnon joked that he might start preparing for next season on the long bus ride home from the southern part of Connecticut. Little did McKinnon know at the time that he would have to wait 646 days for the next game.
Following 21 months of contact-less football, McKinnon and his team finally took the field again, blanking Platt 20-0 at Falcon Field last Friday night.
“We’ve been harping all week that there will be lights, there will be a crowd, but we just have to have fun and play football,” said McKinnon, “We started with some nerves but we settled in on offense and our defense brought that energy.”
Junior quarterback Wil Bankowski played with poise, throwing a pair of touchdowns and running for another in his debut under center
“I can’t say enough about him. He’s the toughest kid and I’d have him lead this team any day,” McKinnon said of his first-year QB, “We have pressure in practice every single day. I don’t believe in 7-on-7 for our offense, so we come after him with all different pressures. It showed tonight, he stayed in the pocket and I’m proud of him.”
Bankowski added, “Since it was our first game in two years we had to come out strong. Once we got that first drive going we settled down.”
The team’s traded punts and turnovers in the first quarter before the Eagles offense started to click, driving 79 yards in nine plays, capped off by a Bankowski to Connor Moreau five-yard touchdown.
Moreau, a senior captain, said they practiced the pass play specifically for Platt, “We worked on it just for this game. Their outside linebacker blitzed a lot, and we knew that arrow would be wide open.”
Two possessions later, Wethersfield struck again when Bankowski kept it himself and scored from a yard out. The touchdown was set up by a Bankowski-to-Louie Montalvo 32-yard over the shoulder connection to the one-yard line.
Montalvo was used in a variety of roles on Friday night, catching a handful of passes and was featured on gadget plays. He is also the team’s punter, showcasing a strong leg and running 32 yards on a fake punt in the second half.
“Louie is up and coming and he’ll be a star here at Wethersfield. It was a big offseason for him learning at the next level,” McKinnon said of his playmaker, “He’s an animal in the weight room, he works hard. He can go anywhere on the field and if they leave him one on one, we’ll find him.”
With a two score lead, the defense took over. The Eagles intercepted Platt quarterback Avery Robinson twice in the first half, one each for cornerbacks Ben Caulfield and Tanner Healy.
The bookend corners are leading a unit that has been dubbed Defensive Back University, better known as DBU.
“Tanner and Ben want to win. They want to know who is the best and they want to guard them,” said McKinnon, who game-planned against Platt’s receiving extraordinaire Antwone Santiago, “We tried to jam Antwone at the line and we left those guys on an island. Those two guys are anchoring that outside.”
Santiago was a stud for Platt, hauling in over 100 receiving yards and moving the chains on several drives. The Panthers threatened to score twice in the second half but Wethersfield defense tightened near the goal line on both occasions.
All told the Eagles sacked Johnson four times and forced three turnovers on downs in the fourth quarter to preserve the shutout.
Defensive captain Holden Speed had two sacks, saying the team came in with a chip on their shoulder
“CT Varsity Top 20 list came in and we did not get a single vote, and we took that personally. We wanted to prove that we were up there with the big dogs,” said Speed, “It was great to come out with this shutout.”
Moreau added that that finishing the shutout was important, “It means everything to us. We want to be the top defense in the CCC.”
Defensive linemen Kaleb Garcia and Bryson Evans, along with linebackers T.J. Smith and Evan Christian were instrumental in stymieing Platt’s running game from start to finish.
Sophomore running back Jova’n Hill, who dazzled on the ground, capped the scoring midway through the third when he caught a swing pass from Bankowski before jetting 15 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown.
Wethersfield next plays Berlin at home this Friday, September 17. Kickoff at Cottone Field will be 7:00 p.m.
McKinnon wants to see the team clean up some of mistakes, particularly the turnovers and penalties, before they take on the Redcoats, who are coming off a 33-0 victory over Middletown.
At least this time the Eagles only need to wait six days before the Berlin bout, not 646.
Speed summed it up, “It just feels so good to be back, the whole atmosphere, it feels like everyone is happy again. it’s an amazing feeling.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin