(Newington boys' volleyball earned the top sports moment of 2017 with come-from-behind championship victory over South Windsor on June 8)
#1: Indians Volleyball Back on Top
June 8: Newington boys’ volleyball dropped the first two set but roared back and defeated South Windsor to capture the Class M championship. Zach Harmon put the exclamation point on the memorable rally with a thunderous spike in the fifth and decisive set on an assist from Evan Metzger. Kevin Bilbraut earned the match MVP after a dazzling 31-dig, three ace performance. It was the Indians fourth title in the last six seasons, including three in the last four. The latest championship cemented a dynasty in Newington.
#2: Middletown’s Big Day on Track
May 30: Middletown boys’ track and field entered Manchester High School with a ton of swagger and left with a state title, winning the Class L Outdoor Championship behind a total team effort. DeShaun Bradshaw won the 100 meter dash and combined with Tyshaun James, Justin McMilliian and Garrett Dandridge to win the 4x100 meter relay. James, McMillian, Dandridge, and DaJaun Lomotey also won the 4x400 meter relay, while DaAaron Lawrence topped off the day with a state title in the high jump.
#3: Sanzaro Crushes the Course
June 5: Wethersfield senior Andrew Sanzaro shot a (-5) 67 to win the Division II Golf Championships at Tallwood Country Club in Hebron. Sanzaro capped the one-shot victory with a birdie on the 18th hole, capturing the individual title and helping the Eagles finished third overall as a team. The victory was the cherry on top of a terrific high school career for Sanzaro, who is now teeing off at Assumption College.
#4: Stockman Breaks the Ribbon
Oct 28: Rocky Hill’s Elizabeth Stockman pulled away from the competition and won the Class M Cross Country Championship at Wickham Park. The sophomore won by 12 seconds and set a 6:23 pace to beat a tough field which included teammate Lilah Devine, who finished third overall. The Terriers placed fifth overall at the event and Stockman set a mark that she can strive for over the next two years.
#5: Budzik and Roy Serve Up a Pair of Goose Eggs
May 30/31: Cromwell baseball began the Class M tourney with back-to-back shutouts, thanks to pitching gems from Noah Budzik and Austin Roy. Budzik fanned five batters and blanked Suffield (1-0) with Don McCaleb driving in Sean Melaven for the game’s only run. The next day Roy struck out six and scored a run in a 2-0 win over Northwestern Regional. The dangerous duo set the stage for 2018 and both will be back on the mound for the Panthers this spring.
#6: Perfection for Eagles Swim & Dive
Oct 27: Girls swimming and diving at Wethersfield has been a consistent force for many years but 2017 was an extra special year as the Eagles finished their first undefeated regular season, defeating East Lyme to improve to 10-0. The team went on to win conference and finished fifth overall in the Class L finals behind a state championship performance from junior Abigail Francis, who won the 200 Freestyle.
#7: Aresco’s Leg- Breaking Record
Nov 10: Middletown all-state kicker Mike Aresco shattered the previous state record for the most field goals in Connecticut High School history when he blasted a 44-yarder during the Blue Dragons 51-20 home victory over Platt. Aresco nailed three more field goals before the end of his senior season; giving him 25 career field goals and setting a mark that will be hard to top.
#8: Historic Rally in Rocky Hill
April 18: Rocky Hill softball trailed Berlin 12-1 in the fourth inning, but stormed back to defeat the Redcoats 16-15. Rachel Roncaioli put on an inspirational pitching performance and drove in the game-winning run to polish off the biggest comeback in the history of the program. Roncaioli and Gina Genovese each had three RBIs and Maddi Santo and Megan Khanna each scored three runs in the historic victory, which head coach Tyler Catlin called his “favorite win” to date.
#9: Shutout City for Cromwell Soccer
Nov 7/9: Cromwell girls’ soccer blanked Griswold 6-0 to open the Class M tourney and then upset Woodland 3-0 on the road in the second round. Jessica DellaRatta was a brick wall in goal during both shutouts, while Jenna Serrantino scored four goals and Levi Belcourt added three more during the two convincing victories. 2018 could be even more memorable as the Panthers only lose three players to graduation with DellaRatta and Belcourt leading a strong returning class.
#10: Cimini Hangs 10 on Cromwell
May 17: Rocky Hill’s Sam Cimini was simply unstoppable, scoring a school-record ten goals in a 15-5 lacrosse victory at Cromwell, spoiling the Panthers’ Senior Night. The senior attacker scored seven in the second half, including four in the final frame, helping the Terriers to their fourth straight victory and the win secured a spot in the postseason tournament.
#11: Night of Perfection on the Gridiron
Nov 22: Both Middletown and Rocky Hill football wrapped up undefeated regular seasons (10-0) on the same night. The Blue Dragons defeated nemesis Windsor 24-7 on the road behind a smothering defense and three touchdowns from Stone Belzo. Rocky Hill took down Cromwell/Portland 35-7 at home thanks to three touchdown tosses from Dan Cavallaro, with two of those scoring strikes going to Matt Osgood, who also threw a touchdown of his own. It was an unforgettable and history-making night for both programs.
#12: Eagles Hockey Takes Flight
March 6/9: The Wethersfield/Middletown/Rocky Hill/Plainville co-op team made history with a pair of tournament wins. The Eagles first blanked Eastern CT 6-0 thanks to a hat trick from Paul Wheatley and a perfect game between the pipes from Stephen Vaughan. Vaughan followed it up his tourney shutout with a 22-save performance during a 3-1 second round victory over the Redhawks of Uncasville. The 2017 team set the stage for a program on the rise.
#13: Wilborn Overpowers Plainville
Jan 3: Middletown’s Brielle Wilborn scored 35 points and hauled down 19 rebounds as the Blue Dragons defeated Plainville 67-48. Wilborn’s spectacular night helped Middletown improve to 7-0 and her performance was her most productive during a dominant senior season for the now Hartford Hawk, who finished her high school career with 1000+ points and 1000+ rebounds.
#14: Miraculous Turnaround for Eagles Field Hockey
Nov 2: Caroline Kennedy scored in overtime and Jackie Samse was flawless in goal as Wethersfield defeated Newington 1-0 in overtime during their regular-season finale. The win qualified the Eagles for the postseason, marking an incredible turnaround for a group of seniors who were freshman during a one-win, five-goal season in 2014.
#15: Sikorski’s Slam Stuns Spectators
Feb 15: Rocky Hill’s Alex Sikorski hammered home an alley-oop pass off the backboard from Willi White during the Terriers 57-45 victory over Berlin on Senior Night. The emphatic dunk caused a celebration that literally shook the gym inside Rocky Hill High School and the video sent shockwaves through the Connecticut basketball landscape. Sikorski finished the night with 15 points and left the frenzied fans with an image they will never forget.
#16: Terriers Tennis Makes History
May 27: 2017 saw several firsts for Rocky Hill girls’ tennis. The Terriers won their first division title and also reached the quarterfinals for the first time in school history, blanking Woodland (7-0) in the qualifying round and rallying to beat St. Paul (4-3) in the first round of the Class S tourney. Seniors Urja Desai and Brooke Chao sparked the rally against St. Paul with a come-from-behind doubles victory. It was a shining moment for head coach Mike Dudis and his blossoming program.
#17: Sizzling Softball Bats in Middletown
May 30: Wethersfield had impressive back-to-back wins over Hall to qualify for the postseason, but they ran into a Blue Dragons buzzsaw in the first round of the Class LL tourney. Middletown upended the Eagles 27-0, as Sam Pizzonia and Niya Earl combined for a one-hitter and the Blue Dragons churched out 25 hits in the lopsided victory.
Bonus: Mozzicato Shoots for Record in Thriller
Dec 19: Wethersfield’s Mike Mozzicato tied a school-record with 42 points in an 86-85 loss at Windsor. The senior’s historic night almost led to a momentous victory, but the Eagles came up just shy of a landmark road win following a fourth-quarter rally.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin