Centaurs boys used Invite as measuring stickPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/17/2018
A measuring stick for Centaurs
The Centaurs boys team was not as attuned to the results of the 40th annual Haddad Windham cross-country Invitational in Willimantic Saturday, Sept. 8 as much as the development of the team.
“You have to get the first race in,” coach Peter Lusa said. “I have kids coming up to me saying ‘Coach, we have to do more hill work or we need to do this kind of workout.’ I told them so when we do these workouts, you will understand why we are doing them and you have to stay focused and will do a good job on them.”
In other cases, a couple of runners came up to him and said they had a lot of energy left at the end of the race which means some fine tuning in race strategy.
“It’s not just show up and run. It’s actually being focused. This is a real focusing mechanism. Even if we didn’t do well or they didn’t think they did well (Saturday), it serves a purpose for the rest of the season,” Lusa added.
The Centaurs finished 18th as a team with sophomore Ethan Aspiras leading the Centaurs with a 95th-place finish.
But Aspiras and the Centaurs were not focused on that number, they were more worried about individual time. Aspiras was about 30 seconds shy of his intended goal of 18:40, coming home in 19:10.
“The goal was to try and overcome the big hill here, which will probably be the longest hill of the season. I didn’t do that well so it showed I have to work on hills,” Aspiras said. “This is a tough race. It’s only three miles, but it’s hard. The hills are just crazy.”
What made it even worse is that it was only three miles.
Cross-country courses are 1/10th of a mile longer in most cases so whatever the times were on Saturday, Sept. 8 the runners have to add about 45 seconds to get a true total.
In the case of Aspiras, Lusa said he doesn’t want him to get down after just the first race.
“He was gone for the summer. I think he did some running, but I think he did a lot of slower running is what I’m guessing after watching him. He’s strong. He will come along. We just have to get his race brain going now, think about the smart things to do,” Lusa said.
It marked a return to the Windham Invite for the Centaurs who went to Martha’s Vineyard for the opening Invitational last season.
“That was on a brand-new course. Everyone was thinking, ‘I’m going shopping after this race.’ There was not the focus on that race. So we came here for a variety of reasons. This could be the ECC course so it gives us the opportunity to talk about it, know what to expect and know what to do with the long hill that never seems to end,” Lusa said.
Matt Roethlein finished 112 for the Centaurs. The remainder of the top five was Kenneth Birlin (128th); Jackson Dias (141st) and Evan Gianfriddo (164th).
Centaurs girls shine at Haddad Windham InvitePosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/17/2018
DiPippo, Arends shine at Invite
Stella DiPippo didn’t have a running partner as a freshman at Woodstock Academy.
She does now.
The sophomore and freshman Linsey Arends will likely make some noise this girls cross-country season.
“It’s awesome now that we have a 1-2 punch, hopefully, we will do really well in the regular season meets and in the (Eastern Connecticut Conference championship) as well,” DiPippo said.
The two showed what they could do on Saturday, Sept. 8 at the 40th annual Haddad Windham cross-country Invitational.
DiPippo placed third in the Varsity 2 race while Arends was seventh.
The two led the Centaurs to a fourth-place finish in the race.
The Woodstock Academy boys cross-country team placed 18th in the boys Varsity 1 race.
It was supposed to be opposite.
The girls were the ones slated to be in the Varsity 1 race.
But when first-year head coach Joe Banas arrived with the team in Willimantic, he found the situation was flip-flopped.
In the end, it may not have been a bad thing as Banas considered the strong finishes, both individually and as a team, a possible confidence boost.
“We’re a young team in respect to who is scoring,” Banas said. “This team is really built for next year, but I’m not putting any type of goals up until the end, I think we will be in the thick of it come Oct. 18 (for the ECC championship).”
The results could have been even better for Arends.
The freshman was running second midway through the race when leader and eventual winner, Rhiannon Richmond of Avon, began to put some distance between the two.
The problem with being a freshman is that the race courses are longer and unfamiliar. Arends found that out quickly.
“The girl pulled ahead a little so I couldn’t see her and I thought that we had to go straight because that’s the way we went the first time in that loop. I forgot there was supposed to be an extra turn when we come out of the woods. I thought I just had to go straight, but then I saw girls coming out from the path. I was confused, but then I realized I had gone the wrong way. I was kind of bummed because it was the first race of the season,” Arends said.
Arends tried to fight back but could only get to seventh place.
DiPippo said she saw Arends and the leader up ahead and almost went the wrong way too, but a competitor behind her corrected her.
“I definitely feel bad because she took the longer way,” DiPippo said.
The nice thing about it is that it was a learning tool.
The Windham Invitational is nothing more than a measuring stick.
“(Arends) is such a competitor. She is also a Black Belt and she strives for perfection,” Banas said.
The good thing about the two is that Banas now has a little competition from within and that’s a good thing.
“They can train off each other and, in the end, this is only going to help them both. It’s a friendly rivalry because they are basically neighbors and are friends on and off the course,” Banas said.
“We’ve been running together since middle school so it’s awesome. I’m kind of pacing off her in races. It’s definitely nice to have someone from your team around you,” DiPippo said.
DiPippo finished in 20 minutes, 52 seconds on a course which she considered a bit difficult, in part, because of how she started.
“It was three miles but it felt so much longer,” she said. “I definitely went out a little too hard because I was in front. It was kind of intimidating, but then I settled into a spot. There are a lot of hills, but it was a different cross-country race because there weren’t too many trails.”
It is possible the Centaurs could see the course again at the end of the season as it is the alternate course for the ECC championship should the Norwich Golf Course not be usable.
Arends finished in 20:58.
“I’m happy that, as a freshman running varsity, I did pretty well,” Arends said.
The Centaurs top five runners all placed within the top 50.
Shannon D’Alessandro, the team’s only senior, was 43rd with Emily McClure in 47th and junior captain Megan Gohn in 49th.
“We had five in the top 50 which is beyond what I had hoped for. It may be musical chairs in spots, but that will keep everyone honest, on their toes, to know that their spot isn’t safe. I welcome that decision that I will have to make when I sit down at the end and pick the seven who will go further on. In the meantime, this is good. It’s a very friendly atmosphere for them,” Banas said.
2018 Woodstock Academy Field Hockey PreviewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/11/2018
2018 Woodstock Academy Field Hockey Preview
The Woodstock Academy field hockey team finished fourth in the Eastern Connecticut Conference last season.
The Centaurs would like to take more than just a step up this season.
“I would love to take three steps up, that would be fine by me,” coach Lauren Gagnon said with a laugh. “We’re just looking to improve every year and we’ve done it. They’re here, working hard every day and spreading the love of the sport to dozens of other kids.”
Indeed, the numbers were, once again, very good.
Some 54 student-athletes turned out for the program including the first two international students that Gagnon has had come out.
“I don’t think either have played, but it’s a nice cultural experience for the kids,” Gagnon said.
With the numbers comes the natural competition.
In practice, the Centaurs split into four teams.
That doesn’t happen in a varsity game and everyone wants to play.
“Team cohesion can be a struggle for us because we have so many players who are fighting hard for their positions. It’s tough to be battling for your spot all the time, but love your neighbor. It’s not that they don’t love each other, it’s just tough to get a solid midfield line going for a long time when you have so many kids changing in and out. Or when you have 12 kids who can rotate into the four forward line spots. It’s a good problem to have,” Gagnon said.
Senior Hannah Wotton said there is also only one ball.
“We have to learn to communicate better. That’s always something you have to work on when you have new players in new positions. It’s definitely tough when everyone comes together and all go at the ball at the same time,” Wotton said.
The Centaurs didn’t lose all that much offense from a year ago.
While many players are interchangeable, some are slated to be playing up front. Seniors Hannah Chubbuck, Emma Strandson and Sam Mowry, junior Lily Brin and sophomores Eliza Dutson and Rachel Canedy are the returning forwards.
Dutson moves up from the back.
“She is going to be very helpful shooting and scoring more goals this year,” Wotton said.
Avery Jones returns as a junior midfielder who is a fine distributor.
She also clearly loves the sport as her summer was spent on the field.
“She played Futures – the Team USA development program – and learned a lot from that. She went to the UMass camp and did some clinic stuff with the Woodstock Field Hockey Association. She is looking strong and she has a shiny new stick,” Gagnon said.
Brin, Wotton and Abigail Kruger will also be in the midfield.
The Centaurs did lose Haley Armstrong from the mid and both Wanjiru Gatheru and Hannah Reynolds from the defense to graduation.
“I know it looks like we’re not in great shape defensively, but we come back with some really strong, key players. Last year, I was able to start two freshmen in any game and feel comfortable (Dutson has been bumped to forward). I know Sydney Cournoyer would love to be up on the forward line and tossing in goals for us, but she’s a workhorse in the back field and comes with a lot of experience. She will power the defense,” Gagnon said.
The Centaurs also have goalies Olivia Stanikmas and Rachel Roberts, both of whom took in some camps this summer, back in the cage.
Newcomers to the varsity will include juniors Paige Kasacek, Anya Farutin, Tessa Houlihan and Madelyn Lecuyer; sophomores Megan Preston and Alex Vaida and freshmen Hannah Clark, Eliza Simpson and Brigid McNearney.
The Centaurs made both the ECC and state tournaments a year ago and finished 7-10-1.
“We really thought it was one or two key games that if we had won, we could have gone into the ECC championship by not being matched up with Stonington in the first round. We did really well in the first half of that game (versus Stonington). Ideally, we want to make the (league championship), that’s a definite possibility, and it’s what we’re striving for,” Gagnon said.
2018 Woodstock Academy Volleyball PreviewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/10/2018
2018 Woodstock Academy volleyball preview
It’s a nice situation to be in.
“This is probably one of my most seasoned teams that I have had in a long time. They don’t seem nervous about things, they don’t seem to let things get to them, they’re laid back which is a nice atmosphere to have,” Woodstock Academy girls volleyball coach Adam Bottone said.
The Centaurs have a lot to live up to.
They begin the 2018 campaign at 6 p.m. tonight at the Alumni Fieldhouse against East Lyme after a season in which they finished runners up in Class L, losing to RHAM of Hebron in the state title match, 3-0.
“We definitely had a great season last year,” senior setter Sammie Orlowski said. “It’s still too early in the season to say where we will end up and we’re still figuring out where we are right now but I want to get back there and prove that we can win. Being second last year was a bummer, getting that far and losing in the end was hard, but we were able to make it that far and the players on this team are strong enough to make it there again.”
The players, for the most part, are the same.
Only three key players graduated from last year’s team, outside hitter Caroline Eaton, defensive specialist Hannah Walley and middle hitter Denali Johns.
Paula Hernandez, who came to the team midway through last season and sparked a 20-match win streak that lasted until the state championship match, returns as a junior.
“I asked the team what type of people do we want to portray ourselves to be? Do we just care about ourselves and our playing time or do we want someone to come in and, potentially, help the team. At the time I had that talk, I had no idea about her abilities,” Bottone said about Hernadez's arrival on the scene.
The team quickly found out how good the then-sophomore was, some of them quickly learning to retreat when she wound up her arm.
That has changed.
“They have that year under their belt, know what (Hernandez) is capable of, and how she makes the team better. I watch them practice and if she gets up there and rips one, they aren’t running out of the way, they’re digging her this year. They get excited when they do and she gets excited when they dig her. That two months we had with her last year, really helped build that relationship,” Bottone said.
Hernandez, who finished with 295 kills, 212 digs, 48 aces and 154 service points, should be even better this season.
She played for the Husky Club from Windsor and was a member of its highest 16U team which played in the Nationals in Chicago over the summer.
“She played from the day after the season ended, every week, multiple days a week with the highest level team in New England,” Bottone said. “They had the best of the best on that team.”
Not everyone got that much playing time in the offseason which Bottone admits to being a bit of a concern.
Orlowski (703 assists) returns at setter, but may also see time at opposite hitter.
“She can hit the ball rather effectively so I’m flirting with the idea of running a 6-2 with Natalie (Low) because Natalie can set. I have a lot of options,” Bottone said.
Eaton started at outside hitter, but moved over to opposite when Hernandez entered the picture. Eaton's 304 kills and 146 digs will be difficult to replace.
Junior Katie Papp will be in the middle along with a trio of newcomers, sophomores Sierra Bedard and Amelia Large and senior Danuse Horka.
Horka hails from the Czech Republic while Marta Cuenca Sabuco, a defensive specialist from Spain, adds to the international flavor of the squad.
Senior Maddy Gronski (508 digs, 482 service returns) comes back at Libero with help from sophomore Marissa Mayhew.
Seniors Emma Green, Rachel Durand, Bekah Wesler and McKenna Gagnon will man the back line.
The familiarity, in this case, could breed success.
“Our first practice (this season) wasn’t our best practice, but it was pretty close to our last practice last year,”Orlowski said.
The Centaurs, who finished 23-4, will need to be on their game from the start.
The target will be large and they can expect only the best efforts from their opponents.
“Last year was kind of unexpected so that may have affected some of our wins and losses, but this year, everybody will be ready for us,” Orlowski said.
That begins with East Lyme tonight.
The Vikings (14-8 last year) swept through Division I last year, winning all eight of their matches but will now have to contend with the Centaurs, who have been bumped up by the league, this season .
“(East Lyme coach) Jack (Biggs) always has East Lyme prepared; (Coach) Steve (Banks) has a good, young group at Fitch; NFA may have a little learning curve with a new coach but that’s a big school that you always have to compete against,” Bottone said. “I’m glad to be back in Division I because the divisional games will always be a challenge.”
2018 Woodstock Academy football previewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/10/2018
2018 Woodstock Academy football preview
The high school football season begins on Friday for The Woodstock Academy Centaurs.
But it will be quite the ride to see how the team makes out.
The Centaurs, who finished 4-6 last season, begin their quest for their first-ever .500 or better season at 6 p.m. Friday in Greenfield, Mass.
“I really can’t wait,” senior quarterback Derek Thompson said of getting the season underway. “I think we’re going to have a good season this year. I like where we’re headed right now.”
Where they will be headed on Friday is a place many of them have never heard of, much less been to.
Greenfield is about an hour and a half away on the western side of Massachusetts.
The Green Wave finished with a 7-3 record last season.
The two teams have little knowledge of one another, but did exchange film last weekend.
“You study the film, identify the strengths and weaknesses, and come up with a plan to address those,” Woodstock Academy second-year coach Sean Saucier said. “We don’t have a history. I don’t know the coach. I don’t know what they have run and how good or bad they have been the last 10 years- I don’t really care.”
It’s the here-and-now that matters..
The Centaurs do have some work to do.
They lost their top offensive threat, Kameron Janice, to graduation last year.
His stabilizing influence will be missed.
Janice could be counted on to deliver that crucial first down and was a big-play threat every time he touched the football.
That crutch will be missing this season.
“It’s been an interesting process, but you can’t replace the individual that Kameron was. He was an outstanding player, had a great attitude, a hard worker. But, when you don’t have one overwhelming, strong player, it changes the dynamic. People feel free to step up or have the opportunity to step up,” Saucier said.
It will be more of a by-committee approach at running back this season.
Jaden Dennett, Janice’s understudy last year, returns as a junior. He finished with 132 yards rushing and three touchdowns last season. Also back is junior Ian Welz who saw varsity time last season.
Saucier has also been pleased with a transfer from Killingly High School, sophomore Gavin Savoie.
“I call him ‘Little Danny Woodhead,’” Saucier said with a smile. “He’s going to be special in the future, but he will get reps this year.”
The Centaurs also have Thompson back.
Thompson completed 69 of his 161 passes last year for 902 yards and six touchdowns.
The quarterback is one who may actually benefit from the graduation of Janice.
“I think it was kind of hard to find a rhythm last year because I was only passing seven to 10 times a game. It will be nice to be better balanced this year,” Thompson said.
One number Thompson would like to improve upon is his 10 interceptions.
“I think I had a couple multi-interception games; Montville was a four-interception, tough game. I really have to improve my decision-making. It can be a game-changer. Turnovers can completely sway a game,” he said.
His realization of that is part of the maturity that has begun to creep into Thompson’s game.
“He has come into the season with an outstanding attitude, work ethic and leadership. We came into camp saying it would be a competition and he accepted that. He has stepped up and has done everything in his power to stay at quarterback,” Saucier said.
Nick Bedard will be Thompson’s back up, but the two have two different and distinct skill sets and Bedard will see some reps behind center this fall.
Bedard will also see action at receiver alongside Luis Miranda (14 catches, 220 yards, 2 touchdowns last season). The junior sprained his ankle in the first five minutes of the first practice this season and was finally back on the field in pads last week.
Caleb Feen (22 catches, 302 yards, 1 touchdown) also returns as does Dan Suitam (4 catches, 48 yards).
“We have a very athletic receiving corps, we just need to get healthy. Luis has been injured for most of the practices, but I’m excited about who we have,” Thompson said.
The strength of the team is up front.
“It’s gelling and they’re very intelligent boys so it makes coaching them fun because they pick up on concepts, whether it’s pass protection or the run game, they pick it up quickly,” Saucier said.
Saucier expects senior Blake Kollbeck to be dominant on both sides of the line, he will play right tackle offensively. Fellow senior Patrick Barrows, who skipped playing last year, returns and will play left tackle. Senior Nate Price is back and will play either guard or center, juniors Gavin Lanning and J.J. Bain are also likely starters with Jack Hovestadt available once he returns from an ACL injury suffered last season.
Travis White, a junior, anchors the defense at middle linebacker. Welz, Bain and sophomore Hunter Anderson will flank him.
Miranda (3 interceptions) is a key in the defensive secondary at safety with Feen (2 interceptions) and Suitam at the corners. Bedard will also see time in the defensive backfield.
Joining Kollbeck up front at tackle will be Barrows, Dan Ntamwemizi and sophomore C.J. Burrows with Dennett and Price at the ends.
“We’re playing to take the program forward a step,” Saucier said. “The program has never had a .500 or better record. If we can surpass that, which I truly believe we can, get to 5-5 or better which I expect to, I feel that would be a legacy that the seniors would leave with the school and help us as a program. If we can get to the good side of .500, I think it would be something for the program to hang its hat on.”
2018 Woodstock Academy Girls Soccer PreviewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/9/2018
2018 Woodstock Academy Girls soccer preview
Two things that usually spell good things for a high school team; talent and chemistry.
The Woodstock Academy girls soccer team has plenty of both going into its season and home opener against Bacon Academy at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
“On our second day of tryouts, we were already working together so well. I can just see us going super-far this season,” senior Ashleigh Angle said.
The Centaurs went pretty far a year ago.
For the first time in program history, it captured the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament championship with a 6-0 win over Plainfield.
The team has come a long way.
“You build for it, you can’t wait for it, because if you wait for it, you may never get it,” coach Dennis Snelling said.
He recalled what core group of his team experienced as freshmen, matches like a 10-0 loss to East Lyme.
“Now, they are the team with the target, at the top,” Snelling said with a smile.
And most of them who got to experience the rise to the top last season will get a chance to defend that title. Sixteen members of last year’s varsity squad are back in a Centaurs’ uniform this season.
They will be missing some key pieces.
Makara Sorel, who shared the team lead with eight goals, has graduated as has the Most Outstanding Athlete of the Woodstock Academy senior class last year, Kennedy Davignon.
But Snelling is happy with the group he has.
“I think we want to play with more pace, faster. Do the things we do well, but do them at a higher level,” Snelling said.
Ivy Gelhaus, a two-time Class L All-State player, is back after a 15-point, eight-goal season to lead the offense.
“Everybody knows about her so the trick there will be to get other people up into the attacking part of the field. We’re not going to leave it all up to Ivy,” Snelling said.
Getting others to contribute shouldn’t be a problem.
The Centaurs had 14 different players in the scoring column last year.
Brynn Kusnarowis was only a freshman last season and was a dominant defensive player in the middle for the Centaurs.
“She can only improve and her vision and fitness are better. She has really taken on a leadership role vocally,” Snelling said.
The Centaurs will miss Davignon (3 goals, 7 assists) and her ability to elevate in the middle.
“Ashleigh is probably one of the better aerial players in the female game at this age,” Snelling said.
All four of Angle’s goals last season came off of headers.
“I think I have more accuracy with my head than my foot,” Angle said with a laugh.
Angle realizes she may be needed to fill in the role that Davignon occupied.
“I feel like I have to do that and also change my role on the field. I need to play a little more defensive this season. I feel like it will help our team as a whole,” Angle said.
Angle is also a team leader.
She proved her ability to motivate this past summer when strength and conditioning workouts took place at 7:30 a.m.
“That’s very early and a bunch of us didn’t want to get up at 7:30 in morning and Brooklyn kids had to get up at 6 to be there for 7:30. I would just force people to go, make sure that everyone was getting there and if they weren’t, I texted them, called them, emailed them. It’s vital for the season. Everyone had to come in fit,” Angle said.
The Centaurs also have a pair of experienced keepers in Irene Askitis and Rachel Holden.
But as much as they accomplished last season, there is still more to do.
The Centaurs finished 16-5 overall, but were 8-2 in ECC Division II and finished runners up to Bacon Academy.
This year, Woodstock Academy battles the likes of Norwich Free Academy, East Lyme and Fitch in Division I.
The Centaurs also lost to Joel Barlow in the first round of the Class L state tournament. After battling to a scoreless tie in regulation, the Centaurs lost the match on penalty kicks, 7-6.
“It’s very difficult,” Angle said of trying to keep the energy going after winning an event like the ECC tournament and then having to start all over again in the state tournament. “We are going to have five captains this season and we’re all going to work together to motivate every player. If we keep the push, the driven attitude, we will be able to keep the mindset on the field.”
2018 Woodstock Academy boys soccer previewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/9/2018
2018 Woodstock Academy Boys Soccer Preview
Paul Rearden hails from Scotland.
So it only figures that The Woodstock Academy boys soccer coach gave his team an example from the British Isles to equate to its situation this season.
He told the team how his favorite English soccer club, Liverpool, lost its top player around Christmas last year.
Rearden said everybody thought the season was over for the side.
“Liverpool actually became a better team after he left,” Rearden said. “That’s not a negative. Everybody else knew they had to step up and the support players became the superstars.”
Rearden told that to the team because the Centaurs are in similar straits.
They have lost over 65 percent of their scoring from last season when they finished 12-7-1 to graduation.
“It’s a great opportunity for the boys coming in to fill those gaps. They just have to believe it,” Rearden said.
The team has seen Italian exchange student Jacopo Ambrosetti, who led the team with 17 goals, move on as has Jack Gelhaus who finished with seven goals and 10 assists. Eli Child (3 goals, 1 assist) also has graduated.
And with them, has gone some of the team’s leadership.
“We have to step up because we did lose some key players from last year. I think we have enough players to fill the roles that those players had,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb, a senior midfielder, will serve as a captain for a second consecutive season. He was not at 100 percent for much of last season, but still contributed four goals and two assists.
“We definitely need to find some goal scoring this year, but I do think kids will step up. Every year, someone steps up, it will happen,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb and fellow midfielders Sean Rearden, Doug Newton and Huck Gelhaus will be helping to set up strikers Aaron Johnson and Eric Phongsa as well as looking for opportunities for themselves.
The Centaurs may not need to be a prolific scoring side.
Rearden is pretty confident in his team’s defensive capabilities.
The team’s other returning captain, Cole Hackett, plays in the back with fellow senior Chase Anderson and Lucas Couture and juniors Nate Craig and Aidan Morin.
Woodstock Academy also lost starting keeper Connor Huda.
Junior Jack Lotter will take over in front of the net.
“Technically, he’s a fantastic goalkeeper. He hasn’t got Huda’s size, but technically, he’s really good,” Rearden said.
Rearden feels the Centaurs have the talent to be as good as last season.
Woodstock Academy qualified for the ECC and state tournaments and won a game in each.
The Centaurs downed Fitch in a play-in game, but lost to Lyman in an ECC quarterfinal.
They moved on to the Class L state tournament where they beat Brookfield in a hard-fought, first-round match at home, 4-3, before falling in a second-round match on the road at Masuk.
Unlike the Centaurs girls soccer team, the boys will stay in Division II in the ECC this season with the likes of Waterford, Bacon Academy, New London and Ledyard.
The Centaurs also meet Norwich Free Academy twice and will play another of the league’s best, East Lyme.
“East Lyme is always good. They lose kids and get more back. We have NFA twice and I’m very excited about that,” Holcomb said.
Rearden, in his third year at the helm, still thinks his team needs to find a quality to be successful this season.
“Belief,” Rearden said is the key to the season for his club. “It seems like the varsity boys are a real quiet group at the moment. That’s got to change. We have to adjust to the physicality of (high school soccer). We have more premier soccer players (on the team) than we have had the previous two, but this is not premier soccer. It’s going to be a lot more physical. Premier soccer, you normally play against those your age. They are playing against men now.”
2018 Boys Cross-Country PreviewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/9/2018
2018 Boys Cross-Country Preview
Running was on the radar this summer for The Woodstock Academy boys cross-country team.
Summer conditioning is just about a must for the fall season.
Coach Peter Lusa was happy to see that the majority of his runners agree with that and had the technological evidence to back it up.
“I was very happy with what I saw,” Lusa said. “We had the kids do some online logging of their running this summer, not everyone did it, but a lot of them did. It got the talk going and a number of kids did over 200 miles this summer. Some of them did that in the latter part of the summer, but they were thinking about it and I’m encouraged.”
The Centaurs return the majority of their top runners from last season when they put together a 4-8 record.
Reaching that four-win mark again this season might be a challenge.
The Centaurs find themselves in Division I of the Eastern Connecticut Conference this season alongside defending ECC champion, East Lyme, and runner up Norwich Free Academy.
“It’s going to be interesting, Everybody has their up-and-down years, we will see where everyone is at. The thing I like about our sport is that it’s stopwatch. It’s you versus the stopwatch. So if our kids are in shape and running well, they will do what they do. We don’t have the depth of an NFA but we will see how we do,” Lusa said.
Senior captain Noah Pepper knows what kind of challenge lies ahead.
“I’m terrified to be honest,” Pepper said with a laugh. “There are all these giant schools with teams probably double the size of ours, but we will take them on.”
Ethan Aspiras returns after a good freshman season that saw him lead the team across the finish line at the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship in 38th place. Aspiras, who came into practice a bit late, has been one of those who put in the mileage over the summer.
Senior Kenneth Birlin finished second (59th overall) for the Centaurs in the ECC, but flip-flopped with him in the Class MM state championship race with an 81st place finish while Aspiras placed 95th.
Other runners that Lusa will be relying on include seniors Holden Pimental, Pepper, Spencer Collins and Kasdit Muenprastivej.
“I really never wanted to be a captain, but having the privilege to be and earning the trust of the coaches is reassuring. It feels good,” Pepper said.
Juniors Matt Roethlein, Evan Gianfriddo, Christian Mink, and Tristan Monahan return as do sophomores Tyler Barrette, Cody Currie, Jackson Dias, John Peabody and Noah Salsich.
The season starts for the Centaurs on Saturday when they race at the Haddad Invitational at Windham High School.
“It’s a way for the kids to see the big meet. It’s a way for us to have the conversation, ‘Hey, when you get out, you have to get out ahead or else you will get boxed in.’ It’s a teaching tool and a rallying point,” Lusa said of the Invite.
2018 Girls Cross-Country season previewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/9/2018
2018 Woodstock Academy Girls Cross-Country Preview
The Woodstock Academy first-year girls cross-country head coach Joe Banas knew the talent that both sophomore Stella DiPippo and freshman Linsey Arends possessed before the two ever stepped foot on to the school campus.
All three live on the same road in Brooklyn and Banas has often glimpsed them running past the house.
Now those two young ladies are part of Banas’ program.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity to coach all the girls, but Linsey in particular, because I’ve known her, seen her grow up and she will be a great boost to the team,” Banas said.
Banas was an assistant coach at The Academy last year and replaces John Ywarsky who stepped aside as head coach following last season.
“I am ecstatic,” Banas said of being elevated to the top spot. “Two years ago, I was coaching at three different high schools, three different sports and working for three different athletic directors. To be here and to also be the assistant distance coach for both indoor and outdoor track trams as well – good things happen to those who wait. It’s more than a good thing, it’s a great thing. At 61-years-old, I’m really happy.”
The Centaurs girls finished 10-2 overall and second to Stonington with an 8-2 record in Division II of the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
They went on to place fifth in the ECC championship meet with DiPippo earning All-ECC honors with a third-place finish as an individual.
DiPippo finished 25th in the Class L state championship and the Centaurs placed 15th as a team.
From that team, only Hannah Matsas has graduated.
Banas is hoping to better those numbers.
But he realizes, he will have to develop more than just DiPippo and Arends.
“I had this at Killingly. We had a great 1-2 punch, but we couldn’t close. There were times when we would go 1-2 in a race and lose. If we can get that pack – they may be playing musical chairs but that’s good because competition is a good thing – it will move everyone up because they will know their spot is not safe,” Banas said. “I can’t have a four-minute gap between the second and third runner because too many teams will just pile a whole boatload of kids in there and the result will not be positive.”
The Centaurs have three seniors, Shannon D’Alessandro, Aria Gianfriddo, and Summer Chaponis and three juniors, Meg Gohn and Alexia Bourbeau, both of whom will serve as captains, and Cassidy Fortier.
“I’m pretty excited. I love running and I’ve been doing it since middle school, it’s an honor,” Gohn said of being named captain.
Gohn added that it’s nice to have two talented underclassmen like DiPippo and Arends because it will force the older girls to work harder this season.
Also returning to the team is sophomore Emily McClure.
Newcomers, in addition to Arends, are fellow freshman Leah Castle, sophomore Mallory Tyimok and junior Julia Theriaque.
Banas asked the team to do about 200 miles during the summer to try to get ready for the season and, he thinks, most did the work.
Banas feels the Centaurs can make some noise this season, even though they have been moved up to Division I against schools like East Lyme, the defending ECC champ.
“(Vikings coach) Mike Flynn is a good friend and a great coach. Plus, Norwich Free Academy (the ECC championship runner-up last season) and Fitch, we have our work cut out for us, but we’re up for the challenge,” Banas said.
The Centaurs begin this weekend when they compete in the first big event of the season, the Windham Invitational at Windham High School, on Saturday.
Banas has entered the team into the varsity championship race.
“I don’t want to shy away from the best. If you want to be the best, you have to run against the best. I’m looking to go at it,” Banas said.Comments (0)
The Woodstock Academy to add four to Athletic Hall of FamePosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 8/20/2018
THE WOODSTOCK ACADEMY TO ADD FOUR TO ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME
Three former athletes and a former coach will be inducted into The Woodstock Academy Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Former athletes Amy (Hicks) Hafensteiner, Angela (Puliafico) Biondi, and Holly (Grube) Singleton will be joined by former coach Bob Mondani. The 1997 state championship boys soccer team will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Biondi, a 1998 graduate, was a three-sport athlete at Woodstock Academy, but excelled in soccer, where she was chosen All-State by the Connecticut Girls Soccer Coaches Association in 1995, ’96 and ’97. She was also an All-New England selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in 1997.
Biondi led the Centaurs to a Class M state title in 1996.
Woodstock Academy also won three Quinebaug Valley Conference titles during Biondi’s time, she was a three-time All-QVC and All-Norwich Bulletin selection.
Biondi also played basketball and tennis at The Academy before moving on to Colgate University where she was a four-year starter and was Most Valuable Player of the 1998 Patriot League tournament.
Singleton, a 1986 graduate, was a soccer and softball standout at The Academy.
She was named the Most Outstanding four-year female athlete in her class and was also selected as a Connecticut Association of Schools Scholar-Athlete in 1986.
A three-year starter in soccer, Singleton was named All-State in 1985 and was a Quinebaug Valley Conference All-Star in both 1984 and ’85. The Centaurs were also three-time QVC champions in her time on the field.
Singleton was also a four-year starter in softball and a two-time All-QVC and All-Norwich Bulletin selection.
She went on to play soccer at Clark University where she was a four-year starter and a team captain in 1989.
Singleton coached varsity boys soccer from 1992-1999 at Housatonic Regional High School and was the 1996 Berkshire League boys soccer Coach of the Year in 1996.
Singleton currently serves as the Associate Head of School at The Academy.
Hafensteiner, a 2002 graduate, was a three-time All-England and four-time All-State cross-country athlete while at The Academy. She was also a four-time All-State selection in outdoor track.
She went on to Northeastern University where she was a two-year captain of both the Huskies’ cross-country and track & field squads.
Hafensteiner still is a part of the Northeastern University record book. She was a member of both the 4 x 800 indoor and outdoor distance medley relay teams who still hold school records.
Mondani coached the Academy’s boys cross-country and outdoor track teams from 1992-2010.
His teams won four state titles (1996, ’99, 2000, ’06) in cross-country and were state runners-up on five other occasions.
He mentored two All-New England runners, three individual state champions and 18 runners who earned All-State honors.
In 1999, Mondani was named the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Boys Cross-Country Coach of the Year. He is also a member of the St. Bernard School Hall of Fame.
The 1997 boys soccer team, coached by Bob Derrico, shared the Class L state championship with Daniel Hand High School of Madison. The two battled to a scoreless tie in the state championship game.
The induction ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29 in Bates Auditorium on the North Campus of The Woodstock Academy.