The Rocky Hill boys’ soccer team has experienced several peaks and valleys this season. This past week was no different.
The Terriers kicked off the week on a high note, defeating rival Wethersfield 3-2 as they celebrated Senior Night on a bitter cold Tuesday evening.
“We struggle early in the season and we’ve had a couple of tough games lately, but we played with a lot of heart tonight. We came out and we did what we wanted to do,” said Rocky Hill senior captain David Scalise, “Everyone was ready and the game was everything I could ask for. Not just for Senior Night, but also for the Wethersfield-Rocky Hill rivalry. There’s nothing better, it was a fantastic night.”
The night belonged to Scalise and his fellow seniors, but it was junior James Chasco-DiMauro who put a double exclamation point on the night with a pair of goals, including the game-winner.
“It’s a surreal moment. I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” an elated Chasco-DiMauro said following the victory, “We put in a lot of hard work and we came out in the second half with a lot of heart. My teammates set me up with some good balls and I put them in.”
The game was scoreless at the half and as the tempuratures dipped in the second half, things heated up offensively on the field.
Wethersfield drew first blood when sophomore Dino Alihodzik found the back of the net just five minutes into the second frame.
Six minutes later, Chasco-DiMauro evened things up when the lefty drilled a kick past goaltender Enrico Gionfriddo.
Brendan Barry quickly regained the lead for the Eagles when he scored less than two minutes later, but the Terriers would tally the final two goals to hold off the visitors, who came in with a record of 8-4-1.
“It was great to come back from not only one goal, but come back twice in the second half,” added Scalise, “To come back to win was fantastic, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Ryan Fraleigh tied things up with 22 minutes to play in regulation when he booted a touch kick from the right hash from 25 yards outs, which found the left corner of the net.
After twenty minutes of swirling winds and flaring tempers, Chasco-DiMauro put the finishing touches on his tremendous evening when he blasted the game-winner with 1:42 to play.
“Last year they beat us 3-0, but this year we came back with a lot of heart and put them away,” said Chasco-DiMauro, “I’ve gotten more comfortable on the field this year and my teammates got me into a rhythm tonight.”
Following the game, Chasco-DiMauro’s teammates joked as they passed around the hand warmers he used in the game as if they were lucky rabbit’s feet.
“He’s had a big attitude shift and his confidence shift has been fantastic this season. He’s started to have a little more trust in the players and he stepped it up big time,” Scalise said about his junior teammate, “He’s been playing on an injured ankle, but he came out here tonight and gave it everything he had.”
Scalise, Fraleigh, and Salvatore Madera are the team captains. Nam Bui, Dario Kokic, Peter Lucente, JD Monaco, Anthony Pietrandrea, Giuseppe Russo, and goaltender Devyn Rockefeller round out the ten seniors that have stuck together through the ups and downs of the 2016 season.
Rockefeller has been stout in goal for the Terriers. He made several saves against Wethersfield, but none bigger than his sliding save he made when he came out to challenge a breakaway from Barry, keeping the deficit at 1-0. Chasco-DiMauro would score the equalizer moments later.
Rockefeller would have another good effort on Friday, allowing only one goal, but the goal was enough for Newington to defeat the Terriers 1-0 at Rocky Hill High School.
Michael Ganley broke a scoreless tie in the second half, scoring the game’s lone goal with 18:23 left in regulation. The game-deciding score was set up by offensive-maestro Joey Terranova, who found Ganley with a perfect lead pass.
“I saw Mike making a run and he’s one of our fastest kids,” said Terranova, “I knew he was going to finish it because he’s been working to get on the field and he’s been working hard in practice.”
The goal was a positive sign for a team that has struggled at times to put the ball in the back of the net.
“It really wasn’t working early on, but we’ve gotten into a groove and it’s all about confidence,” Terranova said about the team’s offense, “We have talented players out there and we’re capable. We’ve been like that the last few years, but we’re just showing it this year.”
The offense is coming along, but their defense has kept the Indians in contention. The team entered the week needing to win two of their final three games to qualify for the postseason. A 1-0 victory over Bristol Eastern and the shutout of Rocky Hill assured them a spot in the Class L tournament.
“It feels good to win this one. We had three games left and we knew we had to win at least two of them,” defensive captain Luke Gilchrest said, “Our defense was strong in the beginning of the year and the offense wasn’t as strong, so we have to switch it up a little bit and it’s been working.”
Covering the back end of the defense is Zachary Harmon, who blanked both opponents last week, upping his shutout total to six for the season.
“Everything starts with him. We know we have a rock back there. We have confidence in him and he keeps us in games. He’s an unbelievable athlete,” Terranova said about Harmon.
They’ll need Harmon to continue to play at a high level, because the tourney is right around the corner.
“We know it’s not going to be easy. We’re going to be one of the bottom seeds, but I think we can beat anyone because all the teams are equal this year,” added Gilchrest.
Gilchrest and Terranova are two of the 15 seniors that have formed a close bond and are glad to have the program back in the tournament following a two-year drought.
“We hang out a lot more this year than we did last year and I think that’s made all the difference,” said Terranova, “We have a lot more seniors this year and we’ve been playing together a long time. We’re a close group.”
Football Round Up
Rocky Hill Blanks Tolland
The Terriers scored on their first five possessions en route to a fourth straight win, blanking Tolland 41-0 last Friday night. Quarterback Danny Cavallaro ran for three touchdowns and threw another to Grant Nieves, who also added a score on the ground. Joe Catania scored the team’s other touchdown and the defense shutout their second opponent in their last four contests. The team will celebrate Senior Night at their regular season home finale next Friday, Nov 4 against RHAM. The festivities start at 6:30.
Newington Stuns Middletown
Quarterback Roberto Sanchez ran for a pair of touchdowns, including the go-ahead touchdown to help the Indians upset previously unbeaten Middletown 27-24 last Friday night. It was stunning victory for the Indians, who have now won two straight games after losing four of their first five. In defeat, Blue Dragons quarterback Tyshaun James scored three rushing touchdowns, increasing his season total to 15 on the ground and 23 total touchdowns.
Cromwell/Portland Takes Two
Due to scheduling changes, the Panthers were forced to play two games in a six-day span. The cramped schedule didn’t slow the team down, as they defeating Lewis Mills 28-8 last Monday and Canton 53-6 on Saturday. Senior Kristian Sapp scored eight total touchdowns in the two blowouts, helping improve the team to 6-0. The team has another quick turnaround, hosting Ellington this Thursday at Pierson Park for a 6 p.m. kick.
Wethersfield Falls To Windsor
The Eagles ran into another juggernaut last Friday night, losing to Windsor 19-14. The team has a chance to get the wagon back on the trail when they travel to Meriden, facing Maloney at Falcon Field on Friday. Kickoff is at 6:30.
For the third consecutive season the Newington field hockey team is headed to the state tournament in November. The Indians clinched a spot in the postseason with a 4-0 shutout last Tuesday night in Wethersfield.
It was the Indians fifth consecutive victory, improving the team to 7-3-2.
“We’re getting a little confidence. We played some good teams in the beginning of the season and it was tough, but we are getting some confidence and we’re starting to hit our stride,” said Newington head coach Paul Macchi, “Tonight was to get us into the tournament, so we have that going for us.”
Karley Welles scored two goals, giving her nine for the season.
Welles, who is off to play collegiately at Southern Connecticut State University, has continued to thrive despite filling a new role this fall.
“It’s definitely different this year because I used to be a forward and now I’m center midfield,” said Welles, “It’s been a big change for me, but I’m gotten used to it and I’ve adapted well.”
Welles was an All-CCC (Central Connecticut Conference) selection the past two seasons as a forward, but her coach has appreciated her ability to adapt.
“Last year she was a forward, but she moved because that’s what the team needed. Her understanding and taking on that role has really been a huge difference for us,” Macchi said of his versatile senior, “I think she’s really matured and became more of an all-around leader.”
Despite the position change, Welles remains the team’s main scoring threat, but she’s received plenty of help from fellow senior McKenna Gernander, who tallied the other two goals in the playoff-clinching victory.
The scoring tandem scored goals in each half. Gernander scored seven minutes into the contest and Welles added a backbreaker with only 26 second remaining before intermission.
Welles late first-half goal provided a cushion and momentum, allowing the Indians to control the ball for a majority of the final 30 minutes. Welles added her second goal at the 8:40 mark and Gernander tacked on an insurance goal with 5:20 left in regulation.
“We’ve been working on communicating more and knowing where people are on the field. We definitely showed that more in the second half and we do better on turf,” added Welles, “Also our defense was strong and they have stepped it up. They’re getting better every day and they were able to stop the ball and help us out.”
Seniors Diana Pinho, Megan Andrews, Mallory Jackson, Elaina Vass, and sophomore Vanesa Seguro have also broken into the scoring column this season.
Andrews, along with Symantha Fazzino, Lauren Rioux, and Kelly Iskra have controlled the back end on defense and helped preserve the team’s third shutout. It was the second straight game that Newington didn’t allowing a goal, also defeating Windsor 4-0 on Oct 14.
Senior goaltender Neve Manion has been the last line of defense, protecting the net all season.
“Neve is solid, I have 100% faith in her at all times,” added Macchi, “She’s had a few shutouts in a row and there’s nobody else that I’d rather have than her as our goalie.”
The team closed the week with a 3-2 triumph over Farmington on Friday, earning the team their sixth win in a row and eighth overall. Gernander added two more goals, upping her season total to nine, and Welles scored the other.
The season has been a major success thus far, but the coach and captain agree the team must continue to do one thing in order to make a deep run in the tourney.
“We’ve been working on communicating more and that comes with just knowing where each other are. Towards the end of the game we did better, but I think we could definitely improve more with that,” said Welles.
“We still have to communicate a lot more,” added Macchi, “Also when we get a lead we have to keep it and keep going. We need to get goals a little sooner to put teams out as soon as we can.”
The Class M tournament starts the second week in November, but first the team has their regular season home finale this Friday, Oct 28 against Glastonbury at 3:45 p.m.
Despite Record, Eagles Field Hockey Soars as a Team
Sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t tell the whole story and the field hockey team in Wethersfield is a great example of that.
The team fell to 0-12, losing by four goals to Newington at Cottone Field last Tuesday evening. For most teams losing the first dozen games of the season would be demoralizing, but not for a group of dedicated girls that are paving the way for the future of field hockey in Wethersfield.
“One of the nice things about coaching this group is that no matter what they rebound and they come back to play the next day. They can find positives within a loss and that’s what keeps us going as a unit,” Wethersfield head coach Colleen Budaj said following the latest loss,
“They’re also so good to each other and that’s important, especially after a loss. They learn from their mistakes, they pick each other up and they help each other out.”
Budaj has five seniors, four of which have been with the program through thick and thin. Fiona Dunn, Taylor Bradley, Lily Bello, and Evelyn DeVaux have seen this program grow to new heights over the past four years.
“From day one of my freshman year until now we’ve grown so tremendously. This season we’ve shown a lot of growth as well and we’ve had very competitive games. Not too long ago we were losing in the double digits and we haven’t had one game like that this season,” said Dunn, “Even though our growth hasn’t been showing some much numerically, we’ve grown so much as a team. The way we play on the field, we’re truly like one player.”
“We’re not just a field hockey team, we’re actually friends outside. We all hang out and there are no negative feelings,” added Bradley, “It’s not necessarily about the wins and losses, but how we grow as people and as players and as a family.”
The fifth senior is Maeve Foley, who is not only new to the team but also new to the sport of field hockey.
“She came out as a senior and she had never played before,” said coach Budaj, “You can’t teach the aggressiveness she plays with or the heart. That comes from the other sports she plays.”
Together the seniors have yet to enjoy the taste of victory this season, but it’s been a far cry from the blowouts the team was enduring two and three years ago.
“We’re holding our own with teams that have historically beaten us 9-0, 8-0, 7-0,” the second-year coach continued, “I want them to believe and know in their head and their heart that we can hang with anybody if we bring our A-game.”
They have been very close to breaking into the win column, losing three contests by a single goal. Two of those losses came in overtime and, although the scoring hasn’t been there, the defense has been steady behind to the play of goalie Kaleigh Sullivan and the players in front of her.
“Kaleigh has played in goal most of the season and she’s coming along nicely. She’s working on being more vocal and communicating with the defense,” added Budaj, “Our backs are really one of the strongest lines that we have right now, which is really nice. Maya Mulholland shuts down all of the forwards for us and she’s ridiculously aggressive and never gives up. Amanda Gilbert is in her first year on varsity and she has stepped up. They compliment each other really well.”
Sullivan, Mulholland, and Gilbert will all be returning next year, along with fellow starters Gabriela Interian, Lexi Munger, Emma Zaleski, and Hannah Reardon.
The offense has yet to find a rhythm, but the team did tally their first goal earlier in the month when DeVaux found the back of the net during a home contest against Conard. The goal ended a 10-game scoreless streak and was a payoff for DeVaux, who is constantly hustling on the field.
“She’s such an important part of the game for us, being that central midfielder. She’s got to have that vision and she’s got to see the field,” Budaj said of DeVaux, “She’s working her butt off every single time. That’s who she is and that speaks a lot to her game.”
DeVaux bumped heads with a Newington player and was forced to leave the field within the first minute of the game against Newington, but quickly returned to the contest and laid out several times for the ball over the course of the game.
“I try and give my all every game. I came into this game hoping to win, because Newington has always been our rival and I knew I was playing against Karley Welles and she’s going to play in college. I’m hoping to play in school too, so I wanted to compete with her,” said DeVaux.
A win would be the ultimate prize but the leadership example that the seniors have set is already paying dividends, which was evident when the JV team defeated Newington’s JV 4-2 prior to the start of the varsity game. The varsity team was on the sidelines cheering and congratulating the younger team members, who secured their first victory of the season.
“I loved it this year, because we’ve had some really nice freshman that we’ve all enjoyed working with,” said Bello, “I know that I can say personally that I hang out with them outside of the team. They’re just nice people and it makes it really easy to work with them as our teammates.”
“I think they build off of each other and that they feed off of each other’s energy,” Budaj said about the relationship between the varsity and JV teams, “We have some great transitions players that are playing most of their minutes at JV and getting some experience on the varsity level. I think that’s how we are going to build our team.”
The coach added that her seniors and juniors, along with a dedicated group of parents, have been instrumental with helping implement a field hockey feeder program into the town of Wethersfield, “This is the first year we have a 3-4, 5-6 and a 7-8 team playing and these seniors and juniors helped get that going. That’s really going to leave a mark on our program for years to come. It will be hard to replace these kids. We’d like a couple of wins for the seniors, who have been the heart and soul of this program.”
The team has three games left to pick up a win, including back-to-back homes games against Litchfield (Thursday at 6:30) and Windsor (Friday at 5:45). Regardless of the outcomes, this team has officially put their stamp on field hockey in Wethersfield.
“I’m really proud to be a member of this team. I can say that from my freshman year to this year all the seniors have grown so much and we’ve all changed and gotten better,” stated Bello.
“Honestly it’s amazing. It’s been so different from my freshman year until now. We’re positive, we stay in these games and it’s crazy how much energy we’re bringing. I think we’ve become such a close team and we’re a family out there,” added DeVaux, who had advice for anyone that is interested in playing field hockey at Wethersfield, “Stick with it and don’t let anybody get in your head. This is the most amazing team that you could ever be part of. The coaching staff is amazing and the seniors that are leaving are leaving behind some great juniors that are going to be able to fill our shoes. They will not be disappointed with the team next year, that’s for sure.”
The Cromwell/Portland football team remained undefeated with a 37-7 victory over Morgan last Friday at Pierson Park.
Kristian Sapp rushed for 145 yards and added two more rushing touchdowns to his season total, giving him 11 through four games, but is was his special teams effort in the first quarter that changed the dynamic of the game.
With the contest tied at seven, Sapp blocked a Morgan field goal attempt and running mate Kittrell Lauray scooped up the loose ball and returned it for a 70-yard touchdown, giving the home team a lead they would not relinquish.
The special teams score and big plays on offense supplied the highlights, but it was another solid defensive performance that made the difference.
Morgan used a hurry-up offense and scored a touchdown of their first offensive possession, but Cromwell’s tone-setter Ethan Roy and his
defensive mates adjusted to the up-tempo pace and made goal line stands in the first and third quarters, which thwarted two scoring opportunities for the Huskies from Clinton.
“We just had to make adjustments. It really helps that we condition a lot during practice. It took us a while and we weren’t really expecting it, but you come into a football game sometimes and you don’t expect things. You just have to adjust to it real quick and we did that really well,” said Roy, “Every time we get in that goal line situation we always band together and we say that we can’t let them into the end zone, because that’s our end zone.”
Roy shares the captain duties with Lauray, Matt Wolak, and Jon Siena.
All four played well, but Siena had himself a night to remember. The senior intercepted a pass in the second quarter and also ran for a two-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, but his biggest play of the night came on Cromwell’s first offensive possession when he hauled in a 61-yard touchdown pass.
On the play, the Panthers reached into their bag of trick and had quarterback Bryce Karstetter throw a backwards pass to wide receiver Liam Coleman, who heaved a beautiful rainbow pass downfield to a streaking Siena.
Karstetter also threw a touchdown of his own, a perfectly placed 26-yard post pass to Dianta Highsmith late in the first half, which provided Cromwell a 19-7 lead at the half.
The game was the first game played under the new and improved lights at Pierson Park and Cromwell/Portland improved to 4-0 with the convincing victory. They have outscoring the four opponents by a combined 173-33, but despite the terrific start the team remains focused on the short term.
“Right now we’re taking it game by game and we’re focused on the next game. We hope it's a good one,” Roy said following the victory.
The next game is Saturday, Oct 22 at Lewis Mills High School. The daytime duel in Burlington kicks off at 1 p.m.
Your November presidential ballots will offer only Trump-Pence and Clinton-Kaine as options.
The town of Wethersfield has their own set of hopefuls in Szymecki-Barry, as in dynamic soccer stars Lukas Szymecki and Brandan Barry.
The pair is hoping for another crack at a state championship and is carrying the Eagles soccer squad this season, again putting their offensive skills on display during a 10-3 home victory over Middletown last Tuesday at Cottone Field.
Szymecki scored five goals and Barry added two more, helping improve the team’s record to 7-1-1 at the midway point of the season.
“Lukas kind of had a coming out party,” said Wethersfield head coach Rob Jachym, “Last year we had a very good keeper and an All-American in Jimmy [Slayton], who is starting at the University of Hartford right now. Our strength was in the back and we won a lot of close game and had a lot of shutouts. This year we’re quite different. We’re scoring a lot of goals and are giving up more than we like, but we’re hoping that if we give up a couple of goals that Brendan and Lukas will provide enough for us to win.”
Jachym’s team advanced all the way to the Class L championship game a season ago, before losing a double overtime heartbreaker to Avon in the title game. The team had several starters graduate, including Slayton, but the play on the field hasn’t diminished thanks to their offensive juggernauts.
“We lost a lot of players, but the attitude is the same,” said Barry, “We’re trying to stay blue-collar and no matter what we did last year we have to keep working to keep winning.”
“We train hard and coach Rob pushes us,” added Szymecki, “We have a good group of guy and Wethersfield is a soccer town, so we want to keep the tradition going.”
The two have assumed the majority of the offensive load this season and were responsible for seven of the team’s first eight goals against the Blue Dragons. Christiano Labella, Drin Berisha, and Brian Rodriguez scored the other goals for Wethersfield.
Szymecki scored three of his goals in the first nine minutes of action.
“We hadn’t played in almost a full week so I was eager and excited to get back on the field,” the senior said about the blazing start, “I feel more relaxed on the field this season and I also feel that I have to step it up and be a leader for the younger guys. We have a young team so I definitely want to show the guys a good work ethic and good leadership. “
Szymecki added that the team hasn’t forgotten about last year’s title loss and are using the disappointment as extra motivation this fall.
“The returning players take it a little more personally, but even the new guys are eager to have their own title shot and hopefully win it this year,” added Barry, who is a junior.
Szymecki and Barry are providing the offensive fireworks, but they’ll have to continue to get solid play from their goaltenders in order for Wethersfield to make a repeat trip to the finals. The team is currently platooning Mark Accarpio and Enrico Gionfriddo between the pipes.
“Right now there’s no true number one. Lately we’ve been rotating both of them until one of them officially puts a stamp on the position,” stated Jachym, whose been the head coach at Wethersfield since 2000, “I think the competition is good. We have competition at every other position so why not the goal keeper position.”
The veteran coach added that he’d also like to see improvement from his midfielders before the regular season is complete.
“We did a good job today, but that hasn’t always the case so we have to build on what we did today and keep creating chances. At times we haven’t gotten that from our midfielders, but today we did so I think that’s a good sign.”
The defense and goaltending will hopefully be polished up before the tournament starts in less than a month, but this year’s Eagles team will fly only as far as the offensive talents of Szymecki and Barry will take them. It’s a tandem that has been putting in hard work for years, waiting for their moment to shine.
“I first started playing with Luke back in our travel days when we were on the same team. We go way back, on and off the field. We’re great friends, so I think that helps us on the field and I think we feed off of each other at times,” said Barry, who added he wouldn’t want to be with anybody else, “Wethersfield has always been a very good soccer town and a lot of the kids just want to continue that. I think a lot of the credit goes to our coach. He keeps us focused and no matter who we have playing we just have to keep working.”
Szymecki likes the way the season is unfolding so far, but wants to see the team at full force when it matters most, “We do have some things we can work on. We have a good chemistry in the locker room, but our chemistry on the field could improve and hopefully it will as the season goes on.”
The team ended last week with 1-0 shutout victory over Maloney on Thursday. They travel to Rocky Hill to play the Terriers on Tuesday, Oct 25 for a match at 7 p.m. Their last home game is Friday, Oct 28 against Berlin at 6:30 p.m.
The fans at Wethersfield High School were on their feet after the Eagles volleyball team stole the first set against Berlin last Wednesday night.
The celebration was short lived as Berlin wound up winning the match in four sets (23-25, 25-7, 25-19, 25-19), but the strong opening frame and improved overall play on the court are signs that the volleyball team at Wethersfield is unified and ready to turn the corner.
“I saw them more aggressive tonight. I saw better offense, I saw them sticking with longer rallies and making good saves,” said Wethersfield head coach Debbie O’Brien, “We may have let up a little after the first set. Sometimes we lose that focus and don’t play as aggressively, and it starts to slip away.”
It’s been a rough season in the win-loss column for O’Brien and her squad. The Eagles entered the game having lost nine of their first ten games, but it hasn’t been because of a lack of effort or talent.
“It’s been up and down this season. We play great, we have moments of brilliance and then all of a sudden we have this dip and we’re struggling and trying to come back,” added O’Brien, “Sometimes I think it’s our confidence. Like in that last set, we’re playing well and hustling but there’s a few mistake and it’s 20-16 in the blink of an eye.”
Despite the losses, the team hasn’t lost their competitive edge and that was evident in the opening set against the Redcoats. Trailing 23-21, the Eagles reeled off the final four points on a pair of kills by Kaleigh Hart, another kill from Kathleen Kerekes, and an ace from Jackie Reategui.
Hart and Kerekes are two of the team’s four seniors and provide the power up front. The tandem combined for 15 kills against Berlin.
“Kaleigh played her freshman and sophomore year but didn’t play last year, so this is her first year on varsity. She’s been a nice pleasant surprise. She’s a big presence in the front row and I’m happy to have her back.”
“Kit [Kerekes] has played a bunch of different positions. At times she’s been a setter and at times she’s been a weak side hitter. When she’s on, she’s really good. Even as a lefty we have her on the outside because that tends to be where our offense goes. She’s also a great leader.”
Sabrina Torres and Trisha Signorello are the other 12th graders on the court. The duo combined to make the play of the night in the fourth set, which nearly turned the tide and allowed Wethersfield to mount a comeback.
On the play, Signorello dug out a Berlin kill attempt and Torres hustled to save the ball from going out of bounds. Torres’ bump carried over the net, scoring a point for the Eagles.
The fans, her teammates and her coach acknowledged the extraordinary effort with a round of applause.
“She’s always going after the ball,” O’Brien said of Torres, “She’s one of our captains and she’s a floor leader, always talking on the court.”
Signorello is the team’s libero, leading the team with 11 digs against the Redcoats. Her coach referred to her as the “key to our defense.”
“The four seniors are really committed and have been great leaders and role models. The kids look up to them and feed off of them. They can also be that person that settles things a little bit,” O’Brien stated, “All four of them have different roles, all of which we need. Kaleigh is always even-keeled, everything is always positive and everything is always good. Sometimes we need that player because no matter what happens she’s going to be steady. Trisha is always hustling in the back. Sabrina is going to be the talker and Kat is more of the volleyball speak, letting everyone know what’s happening on the opposite side of the court.”
The foursome has received help on the court from a strong group of junior, spearheaded by Cheyenne-Mone Smith, who tallied six kills and five digs in the contest.
“She’s more confident this year. I’ve seen her be more aggressive and take on more of a leadership role on the court, where she may have been more apprehensive or hesitant her sophomore year,” O’Brien said of the blossoming junior, “She’s been playing more front row, but I’d like her to play more in the back row because she’s that athlete that goes after the ball and the kids feed off her energy. She is a difference maker and we’d like to get her on the court more.”
Reategui (27 assists) and Danielle Elliott have also assumed important roles as juniors.
“Jackie has made an incredible amount of growth this year and today is probably the most confident I’ve seen her. She works incredibly hard and she’s my only setter, even in practice. She just wants to be better and gives us the effort and attitude that we need,” said O’Brien,
“Danielle got a little experience last year and she’s started every game this year. She’s makes a big difference blocking and serving. She works hard at practice and is a very coachable kid.”
Juniors Mallory Walker, Anna O’Neil, Heather Mayo, and sophomore Emily McKenna round out a roster that hope to makes the second half of the season a successful one.
“You get more confident as you win, so it’s tough to get that confidence,” O’Brien said about the struggles, “We started the season losing to Middletown in a five-set match. If we would have won that it would have set a different tone for the rest of the season. I think we need that one win that will give us confidence. I’d like to see them play more confidently and believe that they can really win. Obviously the wins are what we want, but I’d also like to see that hustle and aggressive play that we had tonight. We’re right there in a lot of matches, so I’d like to see us play more consistent and shorten those streaks of mistakes and really believe in their skills.”
The Eagles have a home match against crosstown rival Rocky Hill this Friday, Oct 14. The border battle starts at 5 p.m.
Questions or comments? Email josh@rarereminder or follow on Twitter @RareReminderJH
Friday Football Round Up
Middletown Remains Perfect
The Blue Dragons kept their perfect season intact with a 27-12 home victory over Maloney. Quarterback Tyshaun James ran for 180 yards and two scores, and threw another touchdown through the air to C.J. Sprowl. DeShaun Bradshaw chipped in with 140 rushing yards, including a 90-yard touchdown sprint, and Stone Belzo had 14 tackles and an interception, helping the team improve to 5-0 at the midway point of the regular season.
Rocky Hill Rocks Rockville
The Terriers ran over the Rams of Rockville 51-7 at McVicar Field, improving to 4-1. Grant Nieves scored twice, including returning on of his three interception for a 100-yard touchdown. It was the team’s sixth consecutive victory over Rockville, dating back to 2011.
Newington Can’t Stop Slide
The Indians lost their fourth straight game, falling to E.O. Smith 31-21 in Storrs. The team has a chance to right the ship with a week off, before playing the next two games at home against Bristol Eastern and Middletown.
Wethersfield Weathers the Storm
Playing shorthanded due to injuries, the Eagles got back into the winning column with a 21-6 victory over winless Hartford Public. The team now has a chance to get healthy during a bye week, before traveling to Meriden to take on Platt on Friday, Oct 21 at 6:30 p.m.
Xavier Loses a Heartbreaker
Xavier lost to Cheshire on a last-second field goal, 26-24. The Falcons jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a pair of touchdowns from running back Glenn Cunningham, but allowed Cheshire to score the next 23 points. Prior to the game-winning field goal, Xavier quarterback Will Levis connected with Joe Galatie on a 50-yard touchdown to temporarily regained the lead for the Falcons, who fall to 2-3.
Cromwell Renews Rivalry with Morgan
Cromwell and Morgan have developed one of the best athletic rivalries in the state and the two schools will again battle on the gridiron after a one-year hiatus. The Panthers enter the contest undefeated (3-0) and the Huskies from Clinton have won three of their four contest this season. Pierson Park is the site for the showdown, which kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday Oct 14.
Wethersfield Cross Country seniors celebrated Senior Day at Cove Park in Wethersfield on October 4th.
From left to right: Matt Stefanik, Phil Rudak, Griffin Grabowski, Matt Pazdziora, Molly Desrochers, Hannah Desrochers, Amina Kuljancic, and Jill Zuidema
Rocky Hill volleyball shook off a loss at Newington last Monday and returned home to beat the Indians in straight sets (25-23, 25-21, 25-13) during Friday night’s conference match.
Senior setter Samantha Brady dished up 22 assists and Grace Fisher slammed down 13 kills, earning the up-and-coming Terriers their third straight victory.
“We were so much more focused than we were Monday. We were ready to play, we knew exactly what we wanted to do and we came out strong,” said Rocky Hill head coach Jackie Valliere, “We’re a different team from the beginning of the week. It’s almost a little crazy, I can’t wrap my head around it.”
It was a total turnaround from Monday’s match, which Newington won in four sets (27-25, 14-25, 25-10, 25-10). Meghan Roberts had 9 kills and 5 blocks and Blayne Wanner-Hyde had 20 digs for the Indians in the early-week win.
“We made a couple of unforced errors and as soon as it happened back to back times we sunk a little bit emotionally out on the floor, so that hurt us. Also we had some missed serves at critical times,” said Newington head coach Chris Wanner, “They came ready to play and they were fired up and excited. Once we started falling apart a little bit they started building up. It was a huge momentum issue.”
Early on Newington controlled the match and led 22-17 late in the first set, but Rocky Hill rallied by scoring eight of the next nine points to steal the opening frame. Senior captain Erin Kelly, who is the team’s libero, ignited the rally with back-to-back aces.
The evenly matched teams went back and forth into the second set, which featured a dozen ties and another dozen lead changes. The home Terriers finally seized the lead for good following a kill by sophomore Julia O’Conner and another by Grace Fisher. Junior Katherine Stockman polished off the set by blocking a Newington kill attempt.
“Julia is a very coachable player. She’s taking feedback more and she’s taking every correction that I give her. I’m lucky to be coaching her,” added Valliere, “Grace’s intensity is insane. She’s always ready to play and she keeps improving every single day. She’s a great player.”
Ashley Bezdelovs served up a paid of aces to start the third frame and O’Conner and Fisher continued to excel in the deciding set, attacking the net at will and helping the Terriers take a commanding 17-4 lead. Madison Santo closed out the match with an ace and the celebration began.
It was a statement victory for Rocky Hill, who rebounded from Monday’s loss to Newington by beating Windsor in straight sets on Wednesday and Berlin in four set on Thursday.
“We definitely had a lot more energy today and our passing was a lot better today as well. We played so well as a team,” said Fisher, who also had 10 kills in Monday’s loss at Newington.
The junior captain, who was an All-CCC selection as a sophomore, has enjoyed playing alongside O’Conner and the two are forming a dynamic duo up front, “I’m so proud of her. She’s getting better and better and her hits are amazing,” Fisher said of O’Conner.
It’s been a good start for the Terriers, who look ready to take the next step after missing the postseason in 2014 and 2015. The goal this season is to be playing at a high level once the Class M tournament starts in November and they will lean on Fisher, who is not only a tremendous talent but also plays with a cool confidence on the court.
“I try to stay calm and not get myself too worked up,” said Fisher, “Our goal is to make the tournament and we have to keep working hard, play as a team and communicate on the court.”
Fisher is one of nine juniors on a roster that features only four seniors. Valliere is in her first season coaching at the varsity level, but she knows all of her players very well after spending the past couple of season grooming them as the head coach of the JV team.
“It’s easier that I know them personally. I know their characteristics, I know their style and I know how to coach them. It’s so fun seeing them as freshman and now they are juniors and seniors. All of a sudden they’re these little volleyball players, I don’t know what happened,” Valliere joked.
The team is hitting a groove at the midpoint of the season and return home on Tuesday, Oct 11 for a bout with Rockville, starting at 5:15 p.m.
The coach is happy with her team’s progress, but wants to see Friday’s team effort become the norm.
“The whole focus of this year is team unity. The better we work as a team the better our play is going to be.”
Newington dropped to 3-7 with the loss and they too have a developing roster with only three seniors. The team made a tournament-run a season ago, but lost six starters to graduation.
“We have three seniors and all three are first-year varsity players. They’re young and lacking game experience,” said Wanner, who is in her second year with the Indians, “We’re a very young team and that makes a difference. We’ve been coming back from some injuries and illnesses, but no excuses we have to step up.”
Despite the lack of experience, there have been several bright spots for the Indians this season, including great individual efforts on Friday.
Co-captain Roberts and Wanner-Hyde had their usual strong performances. Senior Stephanie Akosa, who is a first year player, had nine kills and setter Yasmin Rincon had 17 assists. Freshman Carelys Benitez provides the team a lot of energy and chipped in with seven kills and 16 digs in the loss.
“We’re rebuilding during the season and we’ve got time on our side, which is a great thing,” added Wanner, “One of the things that we’ve been working hard on at practice is talking. We’re talking in practice, but in a game it’s not there yet. Ultimately I want to see more on that communication and just more confidence on the floor.”
The Indians are in the middle of a three-game home stand, with East Catholic coming to NHS on Tuesday, Oct 11 for a 4 p.m. match.
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Newington and Wethersfield Split on the Soccer Field
The boys and girls soccer teams at Newington and Wethersfield played home and away games last Thursday and Friday.
The boys played Thursday with the Eagles winning a closely contested 2-1 game at Wethersfield High School.
Junior Brendan Barry scored twice for Wethersfield, including the game-deciding goal after Newington senior Kevin Bilbrault tied the game with 15 minutes remaining in regulation.
The win improved Wethersfield to 5-1-1. The Eagles have a road game against Maloney on Saturday (1 p.m.) at Falcons Field and return home Tuesday, Oct 11 for a bout with Middletown at 3:45 p.m.
Newington fell to 2-2-3 with the loss and welcome Berlin to town this Friday for a 6 p.m. start.
It was the girls turn last Friday and the Indians returned the favor, defeating the Eagles 3-2 in Newington.
Maggie Callahan, Abby Malloy, and Sabrina Soler scored goals for the Indians, helping improve the team to 5-2. They next travel to Sage Park to face Berlin this Friday at 6 p.m.
Wethersfield got a pair of goals from Megan Darrell, but it wasn’t enough as the team dropped to 2-4-1. The Eagles are in the middle of a five-game road trip, which includes a game at Middletown on Tuesday, Oct 11 at 3:45 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin