Sean Saucier named Woodstock Academy Athletic DirectorPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 1/14/2019
Saucier named Woodstock Academy Athletic Director
Sean Saucier graduated from Putnam High School in 1994.
He never imagined his future path would take him just a few miles up Route 171 to Woodstock Academy.
On Monday, Saucier was officially named athletic director of Woodstock Academy.
“You don’t anticipate things like this, but life happens. You just try to take advantage of opportunities as they come and certainly the last few years presented a few changes, unexpected changes, but changes for the better. I’m very happy with where I am right now,” Saucier said.
Saucier had been the athletic director and football coach at the Hyde School in Woodstock for 11 years.
But two years ago, the Hyde School decided to merge its Woodstock campus with its sister school in Bath,Maine and Woodstock Academy announced it had purchased the local facility.
Saucier opted to stay in the area and became the assistant athletic director and head football coach at Woodstock Academy last year.
When Aaron Patterson resigned as athletic director just before the start of the 2018-19 school year, Saucier was named the interim AD.
“My experience last year as the assistant and being the interim this fall has prepared me for what’s ahead. Without that kind of adjustment period, I think it would be a monumental challenge. Having worked with Mr. Patterson last year and then getting my feet wet this year was a nice transition,” Saucier said. “It’s different than some of my past experiences, but it’s also an opportunity for growth for me.”
Head of School Chris Sandford said Saucier proved himself while serving as the interim AD of the school.
“He did a great job,” Sandford said. “His experience from Hyde, the experience of running an athletic program at an independent school is what we were looking for. Sean has demonstrated over the last few months the skill set that we are looking for. He’s innovative, a good manager, great with people, and doing a great job with the budget. Managing the athletic department here at The Academy with a budget of almost a million dollars is not easy.”
Woodstock Academy associate head of school, Holly Singleton, said it’s not only his professional acumen that qualified Saucier for the job.
“Sean is the right person to lead our athletic program,” Singleton said. “Kids are his No. 1 priority. He believes in the core values that the athletic department has set and he is one of the hardest workers I know. All of his time is dedicated to making things better for kids.”
BU goalie pays visit to Woodstock AcademyPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 1/13/2019
Boston University senior goalie Kathleen Keegan (center), worked with Woodstock Academy field hockey goalies (left to right) Rachael Roberts, Olivia Stanikmas, Alina Michalski and Kailey LaChappelle on Jan. 12.
BU Goalie pays a visit to Woodstock Academy
The Woodstock Academy field hockey team welcomed a visitor on Saturday.
Kathleen Keegan, the senior goalie for the Boston University field hockey team, came to The Academy on Saturday and gave a 90-minute clinic to four Woodstock Academy players; senior Olivia Stanikmas, junior Rachel Roberts, and sophomores Alina Michalski and Kailey LaChappelle.
“She did a lot footwork drills, a lot of higher-level technique and updated skills for ground work,” Woodstock Academy coach Lauren Gagnon said.
Keegan started all 20 games for the 12-8 Terriers this past season and earned Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honors on two occasions. She finished with a goals against average of 1.67.
Keegan has also worked with the trainer for the English National team goalie, Maddie Hinch.
“She has a ton of experience,” Gagnon said.
The 5-foot-6 Keegan is a Connecticut native, having graduated from Hall High School in West Hartford. Gagnon coached her in the past with the HTC field hockey club.
“I couldn’t be happier for her. She is an amazing kid. She told me that someday, she was going to play D-I and she was this tiny little thing and you’re like, ‘That would be awesome, but who knows’ because it’s the pipe dream for everyone. She always put in the work and was totally committed. I always saw her at UConn games just watching. She was so focused on the game,” Gagnon said.
Keegan has possibly played her last field hockey.
She plans to go into finance after graduation.
Stanikmas, the starting goalie for the Centaurs, is currently looking at a number of colleges both academically and athletically. She plans to continue to play field hockey and Gagnon feels that it’s possible she will recieve a Division II offer.
Roberts will be doing Futures with Centaur teammates Avery Jones and Eliza Dutson which Gagnon feels will be beneficial come the fall.
Gagnon was also pleased to see the goalies get a little attention for a change.
“I have very little time to dedicate to just four kids when I have 55 others. It’s huge for them to be able to have someone dedicated to just looking at their body position and distribution of weight and all that type of stuff that can be real nit-picky but can translate to huge gains,” Gagnon said.Comments (0)
Burgess to play for Colgate UniversityPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 12/13/2018
Burgess signs commitment letter to play softball for Colgate University
Woodstock Academy softball coach Jay Gerum remembered the first time he saw Hannah Burgess play.
It was in Little League about a decade ago.
“I was trying to watch the Little Leagues and trying to figure out what they were doing and get an idea. No one was really playing travel ball around here much and some of the things that you have to do to get really good at softball weren’t happening around here,” Gerum said.
Gerum got into a conversation with Hannah’s father, Paul, about slap hitting.
It’s one of Gerum’s passions about the game, but not every player or parent is amicable toward it.
“It’s a different type of hitting and most dads want their kids to swing the bat right-handed and be a power hitter,” Gerum said.
Judging by what happened this past week at Woodstock Academy, slap hitting should be taken a little more seriously.
Hannah Burgess used that talent to catch the eye of college coaches and on Thursday, in a dream come true moment for the Centaurs All-State shortstop, she signed a Letter of Commitment to play Division I softball for Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y.
“It felt amazing. I’ve been working toward this for the past four years and it’s always been my dream to play Division I softball. It’s just so exciting,” Burgess said.
What caught Gerum’s eye about Hannah Burgess was her athleticism and both her and her father’s willingness to experiment.
“Both Hannah and Paul were willing to try it and our friendship grew from there,” Gerum said.
Gerum recommended travel teams and hitting coaches.
Hannah Burgess played for the Rhode Island Thunder travel team in winter ball where she piqued the interest of Neil Swanchak who coaches the Connecticut Charmers Gold travel team.
She played second base and outfield for the Charmers, traveled to tournaments across the country and began to get collegiate offers.
“You need to understand that if you want to play Division I, you have to sacrifice a lot of things,” Swanchak said. “You have to dedicate yourself to your academics. You have to be willing to give up certain things, maybe your friends, maybe going to the beach. Nobody sacrificed more than Hannah did. This is her dream.”
Colgate University was the first school where she attended a softball clinic and she never forgot it.
“I love the atmosphere of the team and I love (head coach) Marissa (Lamison-Myers) and (assistant coach) Amanda (Fazio), they are really great coaches,” Burgess said of the choice.
She becomes the second player from the Centaurs softball program in the last three years to get a chance to play Division I softball.
Rylee Hehir plays for St. Bonaventure.
“We’re not in a very populated area and you don’t have as many kids willing to put the time and the money and make the sacrifices necessary to play D-I,” Woodstock Academy softball coach Jay Gerum said. “For us to have two in three years, they played on the same team together, it’s a testament to their hard work. It’s a great choice for Hannah.”
Burgess hit .551 with 23 RBIs and 22 stolen bases for the Centaurs last season.
Now, she gets to look forward to a senior softball season without the pressure of trying to impress at the next level.
“It’s definitely a relief, but now it’s all about getting ready to play at the next level. I have to keep putting in the same hard work, getting stronger, getting faster,” Burgess said.Comments (0)
Centaurs' Student-Athletes take part in "The Program"Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 12/12/2018
Centaurs' Student-Athletes take part in "The Program"
Woodstock Academy junior Luis Miranda was doing everything that was being dictated to him by instructors of “The Program” correctly.
But he was still catching flak for his performance during the opening drills.
That’s because his fellow Woodstock Academy student-athletes on either side of him were not following the instructions.
It was a "teachable" moment and Miranda got the concept.
“Even if I’m doing my job right, it doesn’t matter if someone to my right or left is not doing theirs. It means we’re all not doing our job right. Being called out for that made me realize I had to communicate with the people around me to make everybody better,” Miranda said.
About 40 Woodstock Academy student-athletes took part in The Program on the South Campus of the school.
“It’s a team-building and leadership development company with one single mission; to develop better leaders and create a more cohesive team. We’re not a strength and conditioning company, just strictly leadership development,” said part owner and Program instructor Sam Cila.
The company was founded by Eric Kapitulik of Thompson and consists, for the most part, of former military personnel, most with special operations backgrounds and each with their own story to tell.
Kapitulik was a survivor of a helicopter incident in training off the coast of California in 1999 when his copter tumbled off the Pecos, a Navy oiler. Six fellow Marines were killed in the incident.
Cila, from West Palm Beach, Fla. who has been with The Program since it started a decade ago, was a member of the 1st Cavalry Army Division out of Ft. Hood, Texas and later with the 5th group Special Operations. He was injured in 2005 in an ambush in Baghdad.
“I lost most of my left arm, had shrapnel wounds in my left side. I have undergone under 50 surgeries and in 2008 elected to have my left hand amputated. Since then, I have continued to be an Elite level endurance athlete,” Cila said.
While athletics is not what The Program teaches, physical exertion is part of the whole exercise.
“The way we create the adversity is with the physicality piece of it. Anyone can teach leadership in an air-conditioned classroom, but we believe that you develop it when the first bead of sweat runs down your forehead. The only way to do that is raise the level of physicality. That is how we create the environment that most people find challenging; to lead when they are uncomfortable,” Cila said.
The Program instructors were in the area for their annual company meeting and an internal team training session.
The Program will work with approximately 150 collegiate teams, a handful of professional teams and corporate teams over the course of a year.
The internal team training included working with student-athletes from both Woodstock Academy and Shepherd Hill Regional in Massachusetts.
“It was a wonderful opportunity,” Woodstock Academy interim athletic director Sean Saucier said. “I think the students rallied and really got into it, gave it a lot of effort, both physically and mentally. I think everybody walked away feeling pretty satisfied with the experience.”
In addition to the student-athletes, a half-dozen of The Woodstock Academy coaching staff also took part.
“I have got feedback from a couple of coaches who were there that kids have reached out to them with ideas and goals for themselves as to how they will lead in the future and techniques that they will try that they learned (Tuesday). That’s exciting. The kids are internalizing what they went through,” Saucier said. “It was also a great affirmation of some things that our coaches try to teach here.”
Miranda said, overall, he was pleased with the three-hour session.
“What I got most out of it was to just take my time when talking to my teammates or someone else when I’m telling them to do something and to also be more supportive as a leader and as a teammate,” Miranda said. “If one person gets better, we all get better. I want everyone to be involved and get better together.”
Two Centaurs sign National Letters of IntentPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 12/4/2018
Two Centaurs sign National Letters of Intent
Two members of The Woodstock Academy athletic community were congratulated on Tuesday for successfully making the next step in their athletic careers.
Senior Audrey Poehler recently announced that she had signed a National Letter of Intent to play women’s soccer for Division II Post University in Waterbury.
Classmate Eric Preston will also continue his playing days at a Division II school. Preston will head north to play baseball for Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.
Poehler never played soccer for the Centaurs.
She chose instead to play for the South-Central Premiere program which is based in North Branford. The goalkeeper also received some private tutoring.
“It’s interesting, a different path,” Poehler said.
Poehler played for South-Central program for the past three seasons. She started reaching out to college coaches two years ago and began to receive interest. She said she was “excited” when the offer came from a Division II school.
“I could have played high school soccer, but I thought it would be more of an advantage to get private goalie training all year,” Poehler said.
She had begun her career as a forward for the Northeast Premiere program but didn’t think she was making much progress. When the keeper left, Poehler seized the opportunity.
“I started to go to goalie training, really liked it, and went to a higher level from there,” Poehler said.
She added she was attracted to Post University, not only for the soccer, but also because the Waterbury school has a good Homeland Security program.
“I’ve always known Audrey to be a very hard worker as a student, super-diligent in class, a subtle but real superstar in the academic world so when I found out that she had this great athletic accomplishment, it didn’t surprise me,” said Woodstock Academy associate Head of School Holly Singleton.
Preston said it was a nice relief to have his destination planned out well before the baseball season begins.
“I can relax and just do what I have to do,” Preston said. “For 17 years now, I’ve been wanting to play college baseball and working toward it. It’s a huge load off my shoulders.”
The Assumption College choice was not all that difficult for Preston.
He has been working with the Greyhounds’ pitching coach, Aaron Kaska, since Kaska coached Preston’s 12-U team.
“I’ve been working with him for the last five years and I’ve also been playing with one of their players so I know it’s a good atmosphere and the right fit,” Preston said.
Preston, a catcher for the Centaurs, will likely remain in that position in Worcester although Preston knows the Greyhounds like their athletes to be ready for other positions if necessary.
“Catcher is definitely a hard-working position and I accept any challenge that comes with it,” Preston said. “Division II is quality baseball. There is a little difference between it and Division I, but sometimes, the competition level is the same.”
Preston will be a health science major with a focus on physical therapy.
“I watched him play in Little League and I knew he would be something special. Not only is he a great baseball player, he is also a great leader, one of our co-captains and more importantly, a great young man. He’s got good morals, good values and a good work ethic – a tremendous kid,” said Woodstock Academy baseball coach Brian Murphy.
For now, Preston can focus on the high school baseball season this spring.
He hit .303 with one homer, two doubles, four triples, two stolen bases and 11 runs batted in for the Centaurs last year.
He also posted a 3-2 record on the mound with 30 strikeouts.
“We would like to win the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship and compete in the state tournament,” Preston said.
New weight room opens on South CampusPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 11/30/2018
New weight room opens on South Campus
The Woodstock Academy football team filed in Wednesday to the weight room on the South Campus of the school for the first day of offseason work.
The words flew out of many of their mouths, “It smells new in here.”
That’s because most of what is in the former wrestling room is just that; brand new.
Thanks to an anonymous donation, strength and conditioning coaches Brenden Ostaszewski and Jeff Higgins have a new home.
“It’s wonderful,” said athletic director and football coach Sean Saucier. “We’re very fortunate to have the donations to provide such a top-notch room for our athletes. It’s exciting. It looks beautiful. The strength coaches are excited, the kids are excited. We’re going to have hundreds of athletes utilizing that space.”
The work was completed over the Thanksgiving break and the first workouts in the facility took place Wednesday.
“The new weight room allows us to serve more athletes in a shorter time frame. A lot of the athletes come in after school from about 2:15 p.m. to about 5 p.m. before practice starts in the evening,” Ostaszewski said.
The demand for training for athletic teams is larger in the offseason so 75 minutes of time on weekday afternoons is blocked off for offseason athletes. There are scheduled team lifts, for those teams in-season, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The physical education department at Woodstock Academy also has access to the room.
The weight room had been in the same building, which also houses the South Campus gymnasium, only on the lower level. That area now houses cardio workout equipment such as treadmills and elliptical machines.
The new weight room has six squat racks with Ostaszewski hoping that number will double in the near future.
It also has six benches and several sets of power blocks (adjustable dumb bells).
The highlight of the room, however, is what makes it rather appealing to the eye.
Down the entire right side of the room is a strip of turf, resembling a football field.
The turf will be used for speed and agility training as well as dynamic warmups.
It’s an area that Ostaszewski wishes he would have had growing up in Pennsylvania.
“We had a class-sized room with one or two squat racks, and one or two benches, that’s it,” Ostaszewski remembered. “This is going to better serve all of the students here at The Academy. We have two certified strength coaches on staff. I wish I had that when I was in high school. It’s going to help the students later on in life. Some of them won’t be able to play college or professional sports, but it’s going to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout adulthood.”
The presence of the strength and conditioning coach already started to show results last year with the prep basketball teams, Saucier said.
The addition of a second coach and the new weight room can only expand that progress.
“I’m excited see where we are two years down the road because it takes time. Now that we have the spaces in place and the programs in place, all formalized, the kids are lifting and training and I’m excited to see what the benefits will be,” Saucier said.
Fall Sports Awards night closes out fall seasonPosted by Marc Allard on 11/20/2018
Fall Sports Awards Night Closes Athletic Season
The Woodstock Academy celebrated the end of the fall sports season with its annual Fall Sports Awards night Monday.
Student-athletes representing the boys and girls soccer teams, the boys and girls cross-country programs, field hockey, volleyball, football, cheerleading, and Unified Soccer were all on hand to take part in the festivities at the Center for the Arts on the South Campus.
The fall season was one of the most successful in recent history for Woodstock Academy athletics. The boys soccer team won its first Eastern Connecticut Conference Division 1 tournament championship while the girls soccer and volleyball teams repeated as ECC Division 1 champs.
Coaches Awards were given out for each sport and student-athletes were also recognized for their league and state awards.
The Coaches Awards included:
Cheerleading: Sofia Melle and Kayleigh Carbone
Varsity boys cross-country: Ethan Aspiras and Kenneth Birlin
JV boys cross-country: Benjamin Green
Varsity girls cross-country: Stella DiPippo and Linsey Arends
JV girls cross-country: Leah Castle
Varsity field hockey: Abbe LeCuyer and Abigail Kruger
JV Blue field hockey: Sarah Delaney
JV Gold field hockey: Alexandra Vaida
Varsity football: Blake Kollbeck and Gavin Savoie
Froshmore football: Ethan Davis
Boys soccer: Aaron Johnson and Chase Anderson
JV-A boys soccer: Grayson Walley
JV-B boys soccer: Colin Manuilow
Varsity girls soccer: Linda St. Laurent and Adeline Smith
JV girls soccer: Anna Kellerman
Varsity volleyball: Emma Green and Marta Cuenca Sabuco
JV volleyball: Paige Audet
Freshman volleyball: Madelyn Groves
State and Eastern Connecticut Conference Awards:
Class L volleyball 1st team All-State, ECC 1st team All-Star: Paula Hernandez
Class L volleyball 1st team All-State: Natalie Low
Class L boys soccer All-State and ECC 1st team All-Star: Cole Hackett
Class L boys soccer All-State and ECC 1st team All-Star: Ethan Holcomb
Class L girls soccer All-State and ECC 1st team All-Star: Ivy Gelhaus
Class L girls soccer All-State and ECC 1st team All-Star: Ashleigh Angle
Class M field hockey 2nd team All-State and ECC Honorable Mention: Avery Jones
ECC Volleyball 1st team All-Star and ECC tournament Most Valuable Player: Maddy Gronski
ECC girls soccer tournament Most Valuable Player: Heather Converse
ECC boys soccer tournament Most Valuable Player: Chase Anderson
ECC girls soccer 1st team All-Star: Linda St. Laurent
ECC girls soccer 1st team All-Star: Irene Askitis
ECC girls cross-country 1st team All-Star: Stella DiPippo
ECC girls cross-country 1st team All-Star: Linsey Arends
ECC field hockey 1st team All-Star: Katie Boshka
ECC girls soccer Honorable Mention All-Star: Peyton Saracina
ECC girls soccer Honorable Mention All-Star: Brynn Kusnarowis
ECC girls soccer Honorable Mention All-Star: Hallie Saracina
ECC boys soccer Honorable Mention All-Star: Alejandro Quintas Gonzalez
ECC volleyball Honorable Mention All-Star and CHSCA Senior Game participant: Sammie Orlowski
Eastern Connecticut Conference sportsmanship award winners:
Boys cross-country: Noah Pepper
Girls cross-country: Megan Gohn
Field hockey: Eliza Dutson
Boys soccer: Matt Tiffany
Girls soccer: Kayla Gaudreau
Volleyball: Katie Papp
Eastern Connecticut Conference Scholar-Athlete Award winners:
Boys cross-country: Tristan Monahan
Girls cross-country: Shannon D’Alessandro
Field hockey: Emma Durand
Boys soccer: Lucas Couture
Girls soccer: Emma Redfield
Volleyball: Rebekah Wesler
The Unified soccer team posted the best grade point average among the fall sports teams with the boys and girls cross-country teams coming in second and third- best in that category.
Volleyball Weekly Roundup No. 5Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 10/29/2018
Volleyball Weekly Roundup No. 5
After East Lyme had given the Woodstock Academy volleyball team a battle on the Centaurs home floor in the first match of the season, it was assumed that it was going to come down to the wire last Thursday at East Lyme.
That part of the equation did not pan out.
The Centaurs took control in the first set and dealt the Vikings a 3-0 defeat on their home floor.
The victory gave Woodstock Academy sole possession of the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I regular season title.
“Huge,” Woodstock Academy coach Adam Bottone said with a laugh about the win. “(The title) is what they were cheering about after the game. It’s the first time in program history (to be in sole possession of a divisional title, the Centaurs shared a Division II title with Killingly last year). It sets us up well for the States and I think it gives us the No. 1 seed in the ECC tournament.”
The Centaurs finished with a 6-0 record in ECC Division I.
It was also their 16th consecutive win this season.
Even Bottone was more than a little surprised with the dominance the Centaurs displayed in the match.
“I was honestly a little shocked, it was better than I expected,” Bottone said. “Our word for the year is ‘fire’ and we came out on fire in that first set.”
Senior Natalie Low (12 kills, 14 digs) got the Centaurs going early.
She had a pair of kills in the opening minutes of the first set when the Centaurs bolted to a 7-1 lead.
“She set the tone right away, hitting the ball down the line,” Bottone said.
It was a lead that held through the remainder of the first set as the Vikings never got closer than the six-point differential.
Junior outside hitter Paula Hernandez was key to that as she delivered five of her 23 kills in the opening set.
“We’ve been practicing for a game like this for a long time and we’ve been working on our defense, setting and blocking. I feel like this is our reward,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez was dominant throughout the match which the Centaurs went on to win by taking the second set, 25-18, and the third, 25-22.
In addition to the kills, Hernandez delivered 14 digs, eight service points and an ace.
“She’s a smart player. She understands the game, sees the positioning on the other side, and also sees what her teammates are doing and where they are. It’s unparalleled by anything I’ve seen before,” Bottone said.
If there has been a part of the game that the Centaurs could have used improvement on through their first 15 wins, it was their blocking.
That aspect of the game was much improved against the Vikings (14-2, 4-2 ECC Div. I). The Centaurs recorded three blocks for points.
“We were getting a lot more touches on the ball than we’ve had and had some blocks that we terminated. The last two practices, that is all we worked on; how we position ourselves on defense, how we wanted to defend (East Lyme outside hitter) Sydney (Iannantuono), and how we wanted to take away the line and we were able to do that. We took them out of their game,” Bottone said.
Iannantuono finished with only 11 kills.
Sammie Orlowski finished with 35 assists while Maddy Gronski added 22 digs for the Centaurs.
“It was really special,” Hernandez said of the win. “We’ve been waiting for this game for much of the season because of how intense (a match) it was to start the season. (East Lyme won the first two sets in Woodstock, but lost to the Centaurs, 3-2). We were ready because we knew they were going to come out strong in front of their fans. We came with the mindset that we wouldn’t let them get in our heads.”
It was a good-sized crowd on hand for the match including a pretty large East Lyme student section. But the Centaurs largely took the crowd out by not allowing them to have much to cheer about. East Lyme led a set on only two occasions; a 1-0 lead in the second set and a 2-1 advantage in the third.
“The teams that I’ve had have always thrived in this kind of intense environment and this team, with its looseness, feeds into it. They don’t really let anything bother them. It’s bizarre, but I love it.” Bottone said.
As expected, Killingly couldn't establish too much against the Centaurs on Monday at the Alumni Fieldhouse in the only other volleyball match of the week.
Woodstock Academy won the first two sets 25-13 and 25-5 and Bottone shifted combinations around in the third set and scored a 26-24 victory for the 3-0 win in the match.
Low had 10 kills and 10 digs; Hernandez contributed eight kills, eight service points and 12 digs and Gronski had 20 digs for Woodstock Academy.
Amelia Large had six kills in the win over Killingly (2-14) while Orlowski (11) and Emma Green combined for 19 assists.
The Centaurs finish off the regular season this week with games against Conard at home at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and at RHAM in Hebron on Friday.
Girls soccer weekly roundup No. 6Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 10/29/2018
Girls soccer weekly roundup No. 6
For most Eastern Connecticut Conference teams, it’s a matter of if they can win a divisional regular season title.
For the Woodstock Academy girls soccer team this season, it was a matter of when.
The Centaurs have been dominant in the five divisional games they have played – they still have a game against Norwich Free Academy on Wednesday – outscoring their opponents, 18-1.
Last Monday, they officially clinched the title with a 3-0 win over Fitch.
“I think it should be goal No. 1 just because it’s the foundation of your schedule, six games, a third of your schedule, and winning it means you are doing well overall,” Woodstock Academy coach Dennis Snelling said.
Snelling said while it was the win over Fitch that officially sealed the title, he thought the game against NFA on Oct. 12 really determined the outcome.
The Wildcats had also come into that contest undefeated in the division until the Centaurs handed them a 3-1 loss.
“We’ve had a really strong team, just like last year, and we just get along so well. We have a lot of chemistry on and off the field,” said senior back Heather Converse. “We just worked really hard and wanted to succeed as much as we could this season.”
The offense didn’t produce a lot last week for the Centaurs (12-0-2).
It didn’t have to.
The high-water mark was the three goals against the Falcons.
The Centaurs followed that up with a 1-0 win over Bacon Academy in the middle of the week and a 2-0 win over Valley Regional in a Saturday night contest.
The three wins by shutout means Woodstock Academy has only been scored upon in three games this season and have not allowed more than one goal in a game.
In addition to NFA, Ledyard and North Branford were the only other teams to get a goal against the Centaurs.
“We really pride ourselves on defense, the whole team plays defense,” Converse said. “If everyone is on the same page, we can get a lot of things done. Not letting in goals is a a really big part of our season and we’re trying to keep it that way.”
Ivy Gelhaus scored her team-leading 16th goal of the season against the Falcons. It was also the 11th straight match that Gelhaus had put a ball in the net.
Ashleigh Angle scored the other two, giving her six on the season. Both of the senior’s goals were assisted by Kayla Gaudreau.
Gelhaus’ consecutive game scoring streak ended against Bacon Academy.
The Bobcats again caused Woodstock Academy trouble defensively, holding the Centaurs to just one goal.
That came off the foot of sophomore Emma Redfield.
A free kick set up what proved to be the game-winner as Angle sent the ball in and it struck the post. The ball came back out to Gillian Price who crossed it to Redfield with 12:59 left in the first half.
“They played a little more aggressive because they were on their home field which is mud. It’s really beat up from football and constant use. In any other year, you would say (the field) was too dangerous to play on. We were happy to just have no injuries and it was a bonus that we won. We’ve struggled in the past against their system,” Snelling said.
Price delivered again on Saturday in the win over the Warriors, scoring her second goal of the season on a corner kick with 19:54 left in the first half.
“Gillian has not played in the closer games, but she really played well at Bacon Academy considering the conditions of the field. It’s a tribute to her fitness and strength that she belonged out on the field in that game,” Snelling said.
Freshman Adeline Smith added her second goal of the season in the Valley Regional match. She scored off an Aislin Tracey cross with 16 seconds left in ther half.
In addition to the NFA match, the Centaurs also had a road game against Killingly on Monday (the game ended too late for this edition).
The ECC tournament begins at the end of the week.
That’s four games in about a week for the Centaurs, but Snelling feels his team is ready.
“We rotate a lot, probably to an obnoxious extent, but we rotate players off the field. It’s to keep them rested. It eats up the clock so it’s less minutes that we’re working on the field and it’s my way to make up for the schedule design which isn’t nice this year,” Snelling said. “A lot of it is the weather, but I think we have too many games.”
Boys soccer weekly roundup No. 6Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 10/29/2018
Boys soccer Weekly Roundup No. 6
The Woodstock Academy boys soccer team didn’t get the chance to celebrate taking a share of the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II regular season title together.
After a win over Ledyard on Oct. 9 put the Centaurs in position to take a share of the title, disappointment set in when the Centaurs lost to Bacon Academy on Oct. 12.
But all hope was not lost.
The Centaurs had to beat Waterford last Tuesday and hope that Bacon Academy beat Ledyard to create a three-way tie.
The Centaurs did their part with a 2-0 victory over the Lancers.
Then, they had to wait.
The Bacon – Ledyard match went to double overtime before the Bobcats scored and posted a 3-2 win over the Colonels.
“Someone texted into our group chat right away and, everyone, as soon as they read it, started putting up ‘Let’s go boys.’ And congratulating each other. Even (Woodstock Academy grad) Jack Gelhaus (now at Coastal Carolina University) texted me and gave me an ‘attaboy,’”senior Ethan Holcomb said.
The 3-way tie for the Division II regular season crown was the biggest thing that happened for the Centaurs in Holcomb’s four-year tenure on the team since he was a freshman. The Centaurs were the 10th seed in the ECC tournament in 2015 and surprisingly advanced to the league title match where they lost to Bacon Academy, 3-0.
Since then the Centaurs have been good, 13-6-1 in 2016 and 12-7-1 last year but had no banners to show for their effort until this season.
“It’s fantastic. It hasn’t been in the cards for the last two years,” said coach Paul Rearden who replaced Jared Morse as head coach in the 2016 season. “It’s nice to have a reward to show for the hard work and the belief they have shown in themselves. You can only say that they are doing really well and things are improving so many times, to actually have that confirmation is great for the boys.”
His only disappointment was learning of the accomplishment after the team had dispersed following the win over Waterford.
Rearden was on his way to a meeting when his wife phoned him.
“I was in my car and yelled, ‘Yes,’” Rearden said with a laugh. “It was a pity we didn’t find out at the field together, but, the difference between that and not winning (a title), I will take that.”
The game with Waterford was also Senior Day for the Centaurs.
As such, they got off to a slow start.
Rearden, who has 11 seniors on the team, started all 11 which made for a quiet first half before the Centaurs scored twice in the second half.
The Centaurs had just two first half shots.
"The seniors came in - some had spent most of the season on the bench - and did a really good job. Once we got our normal starters in, it took a while. It's tough coming into a game when the other players already have the pace of it. Once we settled into the formation we wanted to play and got the rhythm of the passing going, from there, we slowly started to take over," Rearden said.
Eric Phongsa was the catalyst.
Rearden had tried to get him into the match in the first half, but he stood on the sidelines waiting for a ball to roll out of bounds for 10 minutes.\
It never did.
Rearden finally got Phongsa on to the field in the second half.
"He has that unknown quantity, sometimes, he doesn't know what he's trying to do so for anyone to read it - it's tough," Rearden said. "When you get him around the area, though, he's going to make opportunities and (Tuesday), he took it to goal really well."
With Phongsa as the catalyst and Holcomb as the steadying influence, the Centaurs finally put something on the scoreboard.
"Just having (Holcomb) in there is a massive psychological lift for the boys. He's been playing outstanding this season. Thankfully this season, he's playing injury free. His prescence and work ethic out there rubs off on other people," Rearden said.
Huck Gelhaus put the Centaurs into the lead, 7 minutes, 6 seconds into the second half.
Gelhaus took a through ball and dribbled through the defense, firing it past keeper Anthony Sachatello for the 1-0 lead.
Just 14 minutes later, Phongsa broke through and scored an insurance goal for the Centaurs.
Woodstock Academy had to weather a late storm as the desperate Lancers (4-9, 1-6) did pepper keeper Jack Lotter with six shots late, but Lotter didn't let anything through.
"Even in the games that we lost early in the season, I was happy with the performance. You have to look at the bigger picture. You can't win every game, but I think the boys have given 110 percent and are trying to play the right way. They're giving everything for their teammates - that's all you can ask," Rearden said.
The Centaurs, boosted by the news that they had tied Bacon and Ledyard for the Division II title, played one of their best matches of the season, in Rearden’s opinion, on Thursday when they rallied for a 2-1 win over Norwich Free Academy.
“It was phenomenal,” Rearden said. “We went down there, cold night under the lights, and it was NFA’s Senior Night so they wanted to put a good show on. They played a good game. It was 100 miles per hour from start to finish.”
Playing without defenders Chase Anderson and Aidan Morin, the Centaurs took the early lead when Holcomb delivered a through ball to Reid Butler who finished 12 minutes into the match. It was Butler’s fourth goal of the season.
The Wildcats tied the game four minutes into the second half when Micah Spruance scored.
But five minutes later, the Centaurs methodically worked the ball down the field. Phongsa delivered his second assist of the season, one-touching the ball to Alejandro Quintas Gonzalez who scored for a third time this season.
The Centaurs went into the final match of the season on Monday with Windham (which ended too late for this edition) with a 9-5-1 record.
Later in the week, the ECC tournament gets underway.
“I can’t wait,” Rearden said. “I just want to keep the momentum going (vs. Windham) but we’re in great shape. I let (Anderson and Morin) rest versus NFA because they were tight and it was a cold night and I didn’t want them to tear anything. The last couple of years, we’ve been carrying injuries to important players going into the playoffs. We’re physically and mentally raring to go.”