Cromwell volleyball senior Anahya Demers gets ready to receive a serve as freshman libero Emily Franco looks on during the Panthers loss at East Hampton on Sept. 21.
Cromwell High School girls’ volleyball lost East Hampton in three sets (25-21, 25-10, 25-10) on Sept 21 at East Hampton High School, dropping the team to 0-6 this fall.
All six losses have come in straight sets, yet the young Panthers have shown fight in each contest.
“They are doing a great job and working as hard as they can. With a young team this is what happens,” said head coach Tracie Capodice, who has three freshmen starting.
Captaining the team are seniors Brynn Kovacs and Dasani Storey. The captains are two of only three seniors on the team, joining Anahya Demers.
“They are great captains; they are always helpful to everyone,” said Capodice. “When I’m not around they are teaching everyone and letting everyone know what I expect from them.”
Kovacs was an outside hitter a season ago, finishing second on the team in kills, and has switched to setter this year to fill a team need.
Capodice praised Kovacs for her flexibility, saying, “She has stepped up to set this year and she is doing a phenomenal job.”
In the loss to East Hampton, the Panthers went toe-to-toe with Shoreline Conference rivals, jumping out of the gate quickly.
Three aces from Dasani and a kill from Demers provided Cromwell a 6-2 lead in the first set.
Freshman Elise Zerio provided a boost in the third set with an ace and a kill.
Zerio is one of three freshmen that started against East Hampton, joining libero Emily Franco and Piper Kovacs.
Capodice said the team is still working on consistency, but likes the team’s chemistry on and off the court.
“These girls work so well together,” stated Capodice. “We are obviously a young team, but the seniors are so welcoming and are excellent with the freshmen.”
The Panthers closed last week with a loss to undefeated Hale Ray, falling to 0-7.
They return home for a pair of games, including a match against Coginchaug at CHS on Monday, Oct. 3, starting at 6:00 p.m.
Capodice said the team is getting better with each passing match and now they just have to work on winning points, sets, and hopefully some matches.
“We’re having a hard time getting over that hump and finishing, but they are working together and trusting each other,” added Capodice. “I see improvement every day, which is what is important at this point.”
Brayden Bayek - Rocky Hill (Cross Country): Bayek continues to impress on the cross country trails, winning the 11th annual Connecticut River Invitational, hosted by Cromwell High School on Sept. 17. The senior won the race with a time of 15:53, holding off runner-up Ryan Gagne of Wethersfield by six seconds. Bayek and Gagne will again meet up on the trails at Elm Ridge Park in Rocky Hill when the Terriers host a tri-meet with Wethersfield and Bloomfield on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 3:45 p.m.
J.T. Gallinoto - Newington (Golf): Gallinoto shot a team-best 39 as Newington scored an impressive victory over previously unbeaten Glastonbury (167-171) at Indian Hills Country Club on Sept. 21. The Nor’easter had previously lost to the Guardians in the season opener at Glastonbury Hills Country Club on Aug. 31 and the team was able to flip the script in the rematch. Gallinoto was joined by Jacob DeWitt (41), Tristan Gorman (43), and Evan Oliver (44) atop Newington’s leaderboard in the conference victory.
Jacob Salafia and Danny Tuminski - Cromwell (Soccer): Salafia and Tuminski each scored a pair of goals as Cromwell defeated Coginchaug 6-1 on Sept. 20. The senior scoring duo has help power a Panthers team that has outscored their first seven opponents by a combined score of 25-6. Cromwell now hosts Shoreline Conference rival East Hampton today (Sept. 29) at Cromwell High School, starting at 3:45 p.m.
Ryan Gagne - Wethersfield (Cross Country): Gagne finished as the runner-up at the 11th annual Connecticut River Invitational, hosted by Cromwell High School. The senior, who ran a 15:59, has been the leader of the pack this fall for the Eagles, who host Newington at Wethersfield Cove for the team’s regular season finale on Tuesday, Oct1 11 at 3:45 p.m.
Ben Fagan - Cromwell (Football): Fagan caught three touchdown of quarterback Cole Brisson’s four touchdown passes as the Cromwell/Portland football team trounced Haddam-Killingworth 35-0 on Sept. 23. Fagan, a senior, leads the team with four touchdown catches through the first three games, in which the Panthers have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 111-0. Next up is a game against Old Saybrook-Westbrook (0-3), who enters Pierson Park this Friday, Sept. 30. Kickoff is 6 p.m.
East Hampton sophomore Olivia DeMartino gets ready to bump the ball as teammate Emily Tinson looks on during the Bellringers three set victory over Cromwell on Sept. 21.
East Hampton girls’ volleyball defeated Cromwell in three sets (25-21, 25-10, 25-10) on Sept. 21 at EHHS, sweeping a match for the first time this fall.
The Bellringers used a spectacular service game to beat their Shoreline Conference (SLC) foes, serving up 24 aces in the victory, which improved the team to 4-1.
Sophomore libero Olivia DeMartino tallied a dozen aces and junior Chelsea Woods added seven aces in the victory.
Head coach Molly Grabowski said that the performance was the best she had seen her team serve through the first five games, adding, “We have been working on serving aggressively, so I was definitely pleased with that.”
After falling behind 6-2 in the opening set, DeMartino had nine straight service points, including four aces.
East Hampton would not trail the rest of the set or at any point for the entire match.
Grabowski didn’t use a timeout during the slow start, instead letting the team work it out together on the court.
“A struggle is good. I can’t fix everything,” said Grabowski. “I want them to know that they can handle it.”
Woods, the team’s setter, dished up a game-high 23 assists and added a team-high five digs. The junior had a pair of assists to start the second set, which continued the home team’s momentum through the set.
Fittingly, DeMartino ended the third set and the match with an ace.
Senior Jenna Murphy, who is captaining the team with her twin sister Jordan Murphy and Reagan Burt, had six kills. Sophomore Sonja Venetainer added a half dozen kills as well.
Grabowski credited her captains, who are the team’s only three seniors, for continuing to produce on the court while mentoring the younger girls.
“This year is a more mature group. I think they are smarter,” stated Grabowski. “I think they play better and trust each other better.”
Grabowski pointed to Burt’s defense as being a difference-maker, saying she has been “a lot more aggressive” and “a lot more vocal” this season.
Last fall, the Bellringers won 12 of 17 regular season games and a pair of state tournament games, advancing to the Class S quarterfinals.
Grabowski returned the bulk of starters from a season ago, losing only all-conference libero Julia Borrelli from the starting lineup.
With plenty of experience returning, the Bellringers have started the 2022 season by winning four of their first six games this fall.
Jordan Murphy leads the team in kills, averaging three per sets, and Jenna Murphy has posted a team-high 13 blocks on the front line, while Woods leads the team in both assists and digs on the second level.
“I think they have become more and more disciplined and I think they are able to be flexible and responsive,” stated Grabowski, who added that she likes how the team has gotten better in each match. “They need to continue to grow their confidence out there. They are a very strong team and they play together, and I think they need to know it.”
The Bellringers welcome North Branford to EHHS today (Friday, Sept. 30) for a match at 7 p.m.
Members of the Wethersfield football team, headed by #52 senior captain Nick Guglielmo, during the National Anthem prior to the team’s home opener against Joel Barlow on Sept. 23. The Eagles fell to the visiting Falcons 34-21.
Playing at home for the first time this fall, Wethersfield High School football lost to Joel Barlow 34-21 on Sept. 23.
Both teams entered Cottone Field with identical 2-0 records, but it was the well-traveled Falcons from Redding that remained undefeated by using a finely tuned triple option to deal the Eagles their first loss of the season.
The visitors ran the ball 49 times for 349 yards and five touchdowns, winning the time of possession battle and ultimately the game.
“Give Joel Barlow a lot of credit. We kept switching up our assignments and they kept switching up what they were doing. They earned it,” said Wethersfield head coach Matt McKinnon. “We’ll use this as a wake-up call and we’ll learn from this one. I can't wait to get back at it.”
McKinnon squad looked sharp to open the game, driving nine-plays on the game’s opening possession to take a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown run from quarterback Cam Righi.
All nine plays came on the ground with running back Jova’n Hill carrying the ball five times and Righi the final four.
After the initial drive, the Eagles struggled to maintain that rhythm offensively and didn't have a scoring drive over three plays the rest of the night.
“They loaded the box with eight guys and we tried throwing the ball, but it didn’t go our way. They just outplayed us,” added McKinnon
Joel Barlow used a variety of runs out of the option offense, grinding our lengthy drives and breaking the occasional long run.
The Falcons struck quickly on their first possession when quarterback Danny Shaban darted around the Eagles defense before scampered 53 yards to pay dirt.
Following a Wethersfield punt, Scott Romano scored the first of three touchdowns to provide the Falcons a lead they would not relinquish.
After falling behind 21-7 on a Mason Leavitt touchdown run, Wethersfield got back into the game by scoring 14 second half points off three Joel Barlow fumbles.
Justin Nadella recovered a fumbled late in the third quarter to temporarily swing momentum back to the home team. On the ensuing play following Nadella’s recovery fumble recovery, Righi threw a flanker screen to Hill, who jetted up the right sidelines for a 44-yard score.
Christin Morales, who forced the first fumble, then recovered one of his own before filling in at quarterback and throwing a touchdown to Righi.
Righi, who is the been the team’s starter for the first three games, shifted out to wide receiver and made an acrobatic, sliding catch in the back of the end zone.
Trailing 28-21, Luke Whitaker recovered the third fumble at Wethersfield’s two yard line midway through the final quarter.
With 98 yards to go, the Eagles were not able to capitalize and were forced to punt before Romano scored the game-clincher from 40 yards out with 1:35 to play in regulation.
Romano finished with 124 rushing yards on eight carries, while Shaban churned out a game-high 132 yards on 19 carries.
Despite the loss, McKinnon likes where his team is at. The Eagles opened the season with a 21-20 win over Windsor––who entered the season as a top-ten team in the preseason polls––and then chalked up a convincing 35-0 victory at Manchester in week two.
Next up is another home game against the Golden Hurricanes (1-2) from The Hardware City this Friday Sept. 30. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
“It’s just one loss, we’ll regroup,” said McKinnon. “We’ll be ready for New Britain.”
Here are the Rivereast Standouts of the Week for the week of Sept. 19-25:
Hayden Burke - Portland High School (Cross Country): Burke had a top-ten finish at the Going to the Sun XC Invitational, hosted by Coginchaug High School on Sept. 21. Burke, who finished 10th overall with a time of 18:39, was the first freshman to cross the finish line at the invite, which featured eight schools including Portland.
Elizabeth Glover - Bacon Academy High School (Soccer): Glover made 22 saves and registered a shutout as the Bobcats blanked Waterford 1-0 on Sept. 19 at Bacon Academy High School. The sophomore goalie’s astonishing afternoon was the highlight on defense and freshman Alyssa Blanchette provided the offense by scoring the game’s only goal in the 31st minute. The Bobcats return home to welcome the Eastern Connecticut Conference (ECC) rival Fitch to BAHS on Tuesday, Oct. 3 for a game at 4 p.m.
Sarah West - RHAM High School (Volleyball): West combined for 25 kills, 11 digs, and a handful of aces and blocks as the Raptors beat three opponents last week––all in straight sets. The senior ended the week with 11 kills and a season-high three ace in a victory over South Windsor, which improved the Raptors to 6-1 this fall. RHAM hosts an out-of-conference match against Cheshire this Saturday, Oct 1 at 11 a.m.
Emma Braga - East Hampton High School (Cross Country): Braga finished 5th overall, running a 21:42, at the Going to the Sun XC Invitational at Coginchaug High School on Sept. 21. The junior’s performance topped a strong group of Bellringers that won the seven-school event. Camryn Sprague (10th), Jocelyn Gustavson (11th), Savannah Garcia (13th), and Shea Thibodeau (20th) rounded out East Hampton’s top five finishers.
New Era for PHS Girls Soccer
Senior defender McKenzie LaMalfa controls the ball during Portland girls’ soccer game against Rocky Hill on Sept. 26. The Highlanders fell to the Terrier 3-1.
Cory Tobler has begun his second go-around at Portland High School.
The 2009-PHS graduate has returned to the local high school this fall, serving as the new head coach of the girls’ varsity soccer program.
On Monday, Tobler’s team went toe-to-toe with Rocky Hill before falling 3-1 at Portland High School.
“We took a lot of positives out of it,” Tobler said of the home game against the Terriers, who play in the Central Connecticut Conference. “It’s outside of our conference and they are larger than us, but we played right with them.”
Junior Camryn DiMauro scored the team’s only goal, hammering home a ball in midair to tie the game with 46 second left in the first half.
Rocky Hill would get a pair of goals—-one off a deflection and the other from penalty kick—-in the second half to outlast the Highlanders.
Tobler said one of his priorities this fall is getting his team to have confidence from the opening whistle.
“The first 30 minutes we were just out there and we weren't locked in,” Tobler said while assessing his team. “When we got locked in, we battled with them for the rest of the time. I was really happy with what I saw out there.”
Tobler is in the process of implementing his stamp on the program, leaning on his seniors to help with the transition.
“They have taken a leadership role,” he said of his senior class, which features six players.” “They let me know what they liked and didn’t like from last year. It’s been a feeling out process.”
Tobler, who played collegiate soccer at Eastern Connecticut State University after starring on the field in Portland, was hired in the summer and most of his players are learning his system for the first time.
However, Tobler has familiarity with some of his players from having previously coached youth soccer in Portland.
Over the first handful of games, the team has leaned on a defense with senior goalie Lauren Eckert protecting the backend.
Eckert made several saves against Rocky Hill, including a diving save in the 59th minute to keep the Highlanders within a goal. Through the first four games, Eckert and the defense had surrendered only five goals.
The first-year varsity goalie spent the previous couple of seasons as the understudy, watching and learning from all-conference goalie and 2022-graduate Hannah Brunk.
Tobler said Eckert has risen to the challenge, adding, “She’s really growing into the position. She knows she has to be the leader back there and the team has really grown behind her.”
Senior Mia Quesnel, who was a first-team All-Shoreline Conference (SLC) as a junior, and Amelia Hair have been tasked with being Tobler’s voice on the field, setting an example for the rest of the team.
DiMauro, a junior, is leading a young group on the offensive side. She scored two goals in the team’s season opener on Sept. 8 as the Highlander’s began the Tobler-era with a 2-1 win over Old Saybrook.
Tobler said they will rely on DiMauro to carry a bulk of the offensive responsibilities until the rest of the offense—which includes two starting sophomores and a starting freshman—get their varsity feet under them.
“They are growing into the system. I had to move some kids around to new positions and they are beginning to understand their roles,” added Tobler. “A lot of the young girls are getting used to [high school soccer] and at first they were very timid, but now they are not backing down. They are attacking and once they do that, the goals will start happening. That should bring more success later in the season.”
While the offense gets more comfortable, Tobler said that Eckert and the defense will hold the fort down.
“We are in a learning process and we’ll continue to get stronger and stronger. Every game we’re getting better and learning how to play together,” added Tobler. “I’m really happy that we’re going in the right direction.”
The Highlanders are in the middle of a three-game road trip before they return home on Thursday, Oct. 13 against Amistad. The game will start at 3:45 p.m.
Glastonbury High School senior Adam Molusis is a captain on a boys’ soccer team that has started the season with six straight wins.
Molusis scored his first goal of the season on Sept. 13, tallying the team’s initial goal in a 7-0 win over Northwest Catholic.
“It was a nice feeling. I hadn’t scored since last year, so it felt good,” said the senior center midfielder, who netted his second goal this past week.
Molusis, who is captaining the Guardians on the field with Will Greelish and Aiden Crean, said he has embraced the leadership role this season.
“I try to encourage guys in practice and games, and my voice is heard more this year,” stated Molusis, who added that each of the captains take a different approach. “We all have our areas where we excel as captains and we talk every day to see what we’ve got to improve on.”
Through the first six games, the Guardians are outscoring their opponents 22-1, including shutouts in five contests.
Playing alongside Molusis in the center of the midfield is Ben Pavano. Greelish also plays midfield and Crean is captaining a strong defensive unit.
Molusis credited the team’s sizzling start to quick ball movement and communication, saying, “If we do both of those well we could be a really good team.”
Versatility has also been a key this season for the Guardians as Molusis is one of several players that have played multiple positions across the field.
He is the team’s only returning all-conference player from last season’s team that nearly upset top-seeded Xavier in the second round of the Class LL tournament, before losing on penalty kicks in overtime.
“Deep down everyone wishes we could have gotten a different result, but we moved past it and we’re looking forward,” said Molusis. “We’ve turned the page and are focusing on the season ahead and what we can improve now.”
Along with starring as a soccer player, Molusis is also a standout basketball player at GHS during the winter months.
He’s been doing both sports since he could remember, saying that as far as he could remember he has either had a soccer ball at his feet or basketball in his hands.
In the spring, his plan is to play soccer unaffiliated with the school with CFC (Connecticut Football Club) as he begins to prepare for life after high school.
Molusis said he has yet to make any college decision, yet is leaning towards playing soccer at the next level.
For now, his goal as a senior student athlete is simple.
“Just working hard in the classroom and on the field,” he said.
The cross-country teams at Glastonbury High School celebrated Senior Day by dominating the trails at JB Williams Park, as both the boy and girls teams handily defeated Conard and Hall in a tri-school meet on Sept. 20.
Running in their only home meet of the season, the local teams did not disappoint as the girls had the top nine finishes and the boys had three of the top five around the 2.7 mile course that runs within the local park.
Sophomore Brooke Strauss (17:15) won the girls’ race. Following Strauss were teammates Lucy Bergin (17:23), Jackie Dudas (17:31), Kelley MacElhiney (17:44), Lila Garbett (17:46), Ava Gattinella (18:10), Mikayla Nedder (18:46), Ramajana Skopic (18:49), and Jocelyn Wolf (19:16).
“We were really motivated,” MacElhiney said of the team’s mentality prior to the meet. “We just had to push through one last time and make it our best and make it memorable.”
Prior to the race, the team did a walkthrough of the course to prepare. For the seniors, it was their last time to enjoy the course together.
“It was a moment to cherish all that we have. For a lot of us, it’s a culmination of four years,” said Wolf, who said the course walk inspired the entire team. “It put us in a mindset to make our last race here count and to take it all in.”
Girls’ head coach Brian Collins said the event was special for several reasons, including honoring the ten seniors on his roster.
“For these athletes, especially for the seniors, this is a big day for them,” Collins said. “We are fortunate to have a beautiful day for it and they ran really well.”
Harrison Krause won the boys’ race, running a personal-best 14:15, holding off runner-up William Lanchaster of Avon by seven seconds. Krause’s effort was good enough to crack the school’s top ten list of best times run at the course.
“I was trying to save some stuff for the end of the race, so I’d be strong for the finish. I put everything in,” recalled Krause. “I had the Avon kid pushing me the entire time and I knew if I put everything in that I’ve got I would come out with a good time.”
Head coach Mark Alexander said that Krause has made significant strides over the years and his hard work is paying off, adding, “Each year he’s had a goal and he’s gotten a little bit stronger and better every season.”
GHS Cameron Colletti (15:08) placed 3rd and Dominic Pena (15:24) placed 5th, each running personal-time times.
Pena wore red sunglasses while running, soaking up the special day in style.
“I was really feeling it today. I thought why not bust them out,” Pena said of the shades. “I was super excited for Senior Day and you feel all the hype and energy. I was ready to get out on the course and tear it up.”
Crawford Cauthen (8th/16:03), Troy Gianccone (10th/16:13), Alexander Howard (13th/16:31) rounded out the top six boys to cross the finish line.
***Girls Eyeing States***
Following a Class LL title and a runner-up finish at the State Open last fall, the Guardians are primed for another banner push this fall.
Bergin, MacElhiney, Wolf, and Jackie Caron are the team’s senior captains.
Caron was injured for the Senior Day meet, yet was involved with preparing her teammates for the race and helped keep track of the finishing times.
“We are family,” Caron said of the seniors. “We all joined cross country at different times, but now we are so close and have been through a lot together.”
Bergin said that the competition in practice helps fuel the team during meets, adding, “A lot of our team is really close time-wise, so we can use each other to push each other during workouts and in races.”
“They’ve learned how to push each other,” Collins said of his seniors. “You could be best friends in the world before the workout and after the workout, but during the workout that is your competition. We are very fortunate that we have athletes that are talented throughout our whole team.”
Collin’s team will now look to finish the regular season strong, before attempting to defend their Class LL title and potentially capture the program’s first State Open since 2017.
***Boys Blending Experience and Youth ***
Last fall, the boys placed 6th at the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) championships before placing top-ten at the Class LL finals.
With a strong senior class leading a group of up-and-coming runners, the Guardians look to be in position for another strong finish.
“Overall the whole team is excited,” Alexander said. “They are getting along well, they are working hard, and it seems like this group is really gelling now.”
Krause, Colletti, and Pena are captaining the team.
Colletti said he and the team put in a lot of work during the summer, preparing for their cross country curtain call.
“We worked together really well,” Colletti said of the seniors, who have made it a priority to bestow their knowledge on the next generation. “We try to set an example for them during stretches and warm-ups and make sure they are getting all the information they need.”
Including managers, the team has 11 seniors this fall.
Pena said of the seniors, “We’ve grown a lot closer over the years and definitely proud of that.”
Truman Brodeur gets ready to score the go-ahead goal as teammate Sean Connolly screens a defender during RHAM’s 2-1 victory over Lewis Mills 2-1 on Sept. 16.
RHAM boys’ soccer used timely goal scoring and a stout defense to outlast Lewis Mills, winning 2-1 at RHAM High School on Sept. 16.
After 38 scoreless minutes, RHAM senior captain Cooper Halotek broke the drought with a 50-yard goal off a free kick from the left corner of the midfield, giving the Raptors a 1-0 lead less than two minutes before the halftime break.
Halotek booted a high-arching shot into the sun-filled sky, which dropped into the right hand corner of the net.
“I’ve been doing that in practice. I’ve done that in previous games,” Halotek said of his magnificent moon ball. “I know I can hit that ball and I’m just trying to put it in a dangerous position.”
Halotek’s kick provided the only scoring highlight of the first half, yet the visiting Spartans tied it less than a minute into the second half when senior Ian Nonowski found the back of the net.
In the 64th minute, junior Truman Brodeur again broke the tie with a go-ahead goal when he fired in a shot from point blank range after receiving a free kick assist from Halotek.
Halotek said he originally was going to shoot another high kick near the goal, but spotted Brodeur with an opening in front of the net.
“I thought it was a better play,” added Halotek.
Brodeur’s blast proved to be the game-winner as the Raptors defense thwarted a couple of late attacks from the Spartans.
“One of the things that we have been preaching a lot is being able to attack and defend as a team with balance,” said assistant coach Tim Barry, who was filling in for head coach Ray Bell. “It took us 10-15 minutes to adjust. They were pressing hard, but we held up on defense and offensively we were able to build some momentum.”
Senior Bradley Lim had a pair of key defensive plays late to seal the victory, including deflecting a midair shot that would have tied the game with 4:30 remaining in regulation.
“I was just trying to get between the ball and goal and trying to take his angle out and force him to the end line,” Lim said of the crucial deflection. “When he shot it, I just stuck my leg out.”
Barry praised Lim for his effort, calling him an “incredibly hard worker” and “tough as nails.”
Halotek, Lim and goalie Erik Buden are captaining the Raptors on the field.
Buden made three saves in the game and withstood an aggressive Lewis Mills attack early in the game, making a pair of stops within the first ten minutes of the game.
“We just had to keep doing the job and keep communicating with each other,” Buden said of Lewis Mills’ early onslaught. “We just needed to focus and keep talking to each other.”
Buden is in his third year starting in goal and Barry said his experience pays off in difficult moments.
“He comes to work every day and is a student of the craft of goalkeeping,” Barry said of Buden. “He is a kid with fantastic feet, he reads the game really well, and he has continued to get bigger and stronger throughout the years, but not lose the flexibility and explosiveness.”
Barry added that because of his extensive time in goal, Buden was able to stay composed even when the Spartans scored early in the second half.
Buden gave credit to the defenders in front of him, adding, “As a keeper and on the defense in general you have to have a short memory so with something like that happens you just have to let it go and focus on the next play.”
Lewis Mills threatened one final time in the final minute, but fittingly Halotek gained possession and sent a sky-high kick towards the opposite end of the field.
Halotek and Brodeur provided the scoring, yet the Raptors had several players help power the offense.
Juniors Jacob Dooley and Sean Connolly consistently attacked the opponent’s end, but their shots throughout the game were either rejected or just off the mark.
Dooley has been a pleasant surprise to the coaching staff this fall, scoring the game-tying goal in the second half as RHAM tied Tolland on Sept. 13.
Barry called Dooley, “cool, calm and collected” and a “stabilizing force” for the team this fall.
RHAM opened the season with a 4-1 win over Manchester with the four goals coming from Halotek, Connolly, Max Sementa, and freshman Michael Thatford.
On Monday, the Raptors dropped their first game of the season, losing 2-0 to Berlin. As of publication, they have a record of 2-1-1.
The team captains all said they want to see the team communicate better on the field and keep a consistent intensity during the game..
Barry believes the team has the right ingredients to be successful, now it’s just about blending them all together.
“High school soccer is not made up of individuals; it’s about how strong your unit is. The season is a grind.” added Barry, who is in his ninth year as an assistant with the program. “That consistency and leadership from them is what we’re looking for. They are developing that voice, but not every leader has to be loud. Different styles of leaders are what will drive our success.”
Next week, the Raptors have a pair of road games—at East Catholic on Tuesday and Northwest Catholic on Thursday—before returning for back-to-back home games against Windsor on Oct. 4 (3:45 p.m.) and Enfield on Oct. 6 (4 p.m.).
Lighting Sparks GHS Girls Soccer
GHS senior Gianna Angelillo controls the ball during the Guardians 3-1 over Northwest Catholic. Angelillo, who will play collegiately at the University of Miami, scored a goal in the win.
Glastonbury High School girls’ soccer waited out Mother Nature and then rallied to defeat Northwest Catholic 3-1 under the bright lights at GHS on Sept. 13.
With the game scoreless at the half, lightning delayed the return to action by nearly an hour. Once the players finally took the field, the Central Connecticut Conference-West rivals created some lightning of their own.
The visiting Lions struck first when sophomore Olivia Knorr found the back early in the second half.
Eight minutes later, Glastonbury senior Riley Carroll scored the equalizer, firing a shot to the right corner of the net after receiving a header from Kathryn Matson.
Carroll said the halftime delay reenergized the team’s offense, which was stagnant in the first half.
“We talked about what we could do better. Our coaches were great, they were telling us what we could do to improve and it really motivated us,” said Carroll, who added that the atmosphere made the win even more rewarding. “Playing under the light is the best feeling. There is a lot of energy.”
GHS head coach Mark Landers said the team didn’t practice well the previous day and it bled over into the early stages of the game.
“Not having that mentality hurt us. Northwest Catholic is a very good team,” added Landers, who dug into his bench early and often over the final 40 minutes. “We were able to sub a little bit more. Our bench was a little deeper and I think that is what eventually won out.”
Emily Smith had a chance to give the Guardians the lead with 17 minutes left but her shot was deflected. Five minutes later, Angela Chavez broke the tie with an assist from Smith.
Gianna Angelillo scored an issuance goal after shaking a pair of Northwest defenders before finding the back of the net with 3:50 left in regulation.
For the second straight game, goalie Marla Radikas was stellar in goal. With the game tied at 1, the junior keeper had a key save with 13:35 left in regulation and less than a minute later Chavez scored the go-ahead goal. Radikas was coming off a shutout of Conard (4-0) in the team first game on Sept. 8.
Radikas, along with reserve freshman Faith-Anne Grunwald, will be the team’s net minders this season. Protecting the back end is a deep, experienced defense led by seniors Anna Shaheen, Mackenzie Landers and Carleigh Sullivan. Sophomore
Madison Handrahan also shined in the win, clearing multiple Northwest attack attempts.
Carroll and Alayna Taylor were the captains for the home win. But with a dozen seniors, Lander’s on-field leadership can come from a variety of sources and he will go with a rotating captain’s chair this fall.
“We are captains by committee right now. We all want to be able to lead each other and be as close to a family as we can,” added Landers. “It is showing up in the locker room and it’s showing out on the field. We stayed composed even when we got down.”
Along with an abundance of depth, talent is also plentiful with three players already committed to collegiate soccer. Taylor (University of Connecticut), Angelillo (University of Miami) and Kelsey Landers (Iona University) will all be playing at the Division I level next fall.
Carroll said there is a positive energy surrounding the team, adding, “We are so excited for our season. It’s only the beginning. There is such a good connection between all the teammates.”
Landers, who spent the previous 20 years coaching the boys’ program to eight state championships, is in his second season leading the girls’ program. During his first season last fall, the Guardians won a conference title before losing in the opening round of the state tourney.
On Sept. 15, the Guardians settled to a 2-2 tie at Newington, finishing up the week with a record of 2-0-1.
They have another game under the lights of GHS tonight (Thursday, Sept. 22) as they welcome Southington to the tuft at 6 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin