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  • Volleyball Weekly Roundup No. 5

    Posted 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.

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  • Girls soccer weekly roundup No. 6

    Posted 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.”

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  • Boys soccer weekly roundup No. 6

    Posted 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.”

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  • Woodstock Academy football roundups

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 10/29/2018

    Football roundups

    Centaurs fall in 2nd half

    Woodstock Academy put together a strong first half effort.

    Unfortunately, it went for naught in the second.

    The Centaurs gave up 12 unanswered points and lost to Canton, 18-16, Friday night.

    The Centaurs (1-6) jumped on top when Ian Welz intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards for the score.

    Nick Bedard found Travis White with a two-point conversion pass.

    The Centaurs would go up 16-6 when Derek Thompson hit White with a 67-yard touchdown pass.

    Caleb Feen added the two-point conversion run.

    Good effort falls short vs. Sharks

     

    The Capital Prep Harbor Sharks were big.

    They were also very athletic.

    The one saving grace for the Woodstock Academy football team was that the Sharks were also undisciplined.

    Capital Prep Harbor was whistled 16 times for 157 yards in penalties on Saturday at the Bentley Athletic Complex in Woodstock.

    The Sharks were able to overcome the miscues, however, and scored a 34-19 win over the Centaurs.

    Still, Woodstock Academy wasn’t complaining afterward.

    When Capital Prep Harbor got off the bus, the size differential between the two teams was rather apparent.

    Capital Prep featured a number of players who stood well over 6-feet and weighed north of 200, some even more than 300, pounds.

    But the Centaurs were only down by a touchdown in the third quarter.

    “We fought hard. They were very big compared to us, but we played with a lot of heart (Saturday) and really did give it our all,” quarterback Nick Bedard said.

    The first half was more like most were expecting as the Sharks (3-2) built a 20-0 lead by the break.

    The Centaurs drove the ball on their first possession, but missed a 37-yard field goal. They were forced to punt on their next possession.

    Capital Prep Harbor got the ball on its own 20 and marched downfield in 10 plays with quarterback Sahim Hason (15-for-19 passing, 250 yards) hitting Tyrese Wright with a 41-yard touchdown pass.

    The Centaurs went down 12-0 after they fumbled on the first play from scrimmage on their own 29.

    The Sharks hurt themselves with an offensive pass interference call and a holding penalty, but the drive forged on. Hason carted the ball in by himself, going 14 yards for the touchdown with 9:13 left in the half.

    The Centaurs gave Capital Prep Harbor one more opportunity in the half. They drove to the Sharks 39-yard line but turned the ball over on downs.

    Helped by an unsportsmanlike penalty against the Centaurs on a 4th-and-13, Capital Prep made it a 20-point game on the final play of the half when Wright got his feet down just inside the pylon.

    The Centaurs changed up looks in the second half.

    Derek Thompson played the entire first half at quarterback, but it was Bedard who came on in the second half.

    “To Derek’s credit, he helps me diagnose what (the defense) is doing and if he thinks Nick can be effective, he will be the first to tell me,” Centaurs coach Sean Saucier said. “That’s a testament to his character and the type of team guy that he has become. We all kind of work together to figure out what we can do that will work.”

    Bedard and Thompson’s talents allow Saucier to show defenses something entirely different.

    “Derek is more of a passing quarterback and I’m a read option quarterback. I do a lot more running than Derek. He has a better arm and is a lot more accurate. I’m faster than he is, but he’s way better in the air,” Bedard said.

    The two did shift roles, however, in the third quarter.

    After the Centaurs forced a Capital Prep punt, Bedard (5 carries, 44 yards) surprised the Sharks with his running ability and his 14-yard scamper drove the Centaurs to the Capital Prep 1-yard line.

    Saucier called on Thompson to finish things off and the senior snuck into the end zone for the first Centaurs score.

    On the first play following the kickoff, the Sharks coughed up the football and Blake Kollbeck recovered for the Centaurs.

    Saucier then attempted a little chicanery that worked out pretty well.

    A double reverse put the ball in receiver Caleb Feen’s hands.

    But instead of continuing his journey to the left side, he stopped, turned and threw back to the right where Bedard was all alone and reeled in the 14-yard touchdown pass.

    “It was a lot of fun and it put us back in the game. I kind of challenged the kids at halftime and they responded. They were fun to coach right to the very end,” Saucier said.

    “Caleb Feen and I were talking about it all week. He was really nervous about it. We didn’t know if it would work, but it worked out perfectly and scored the touchdown. I thought we were going to have them then,” Bedard said.

    Capital Prep had other thoughts.

    The Sharks scored on the second play of the fourth quarter on a 24-yard run by Wright (4 carries, 40 yards). They added an insurance score following a Centaurs punt when Hason connected on a 45-yard pass play.

    Thompson (11-for-17 passing, 80 yards) accounted for the final touchdown for the Centaurs when he hit Travis White with a 17-yard score with 15 seconds left

    The loss dropped the Centaurs to 1-5 on the year.

    “Our best days are ahead of us. That’s what I said (to his team) and I believe it. We have 3 ½ weeks left and we plan to make the most of it,” Saucier said.

    The Centaurs have another home game at 1 p.m. Saturday when they host Canton (0-6) of the Pequot Football Conference at the Bentley Athletic Complex.

     

    Centaurs fall at home

    The offense sputtered, the special teams struggled and the defense tried its best to keep the Centaurs in the game.

    That combination produced the third straight loss for the Centaurs football team as it lost to Amherst, Mass. on Homecoming night under the lights on South Campus, 22-8, on Friday.

    J.J. Block of Amherst got to a Damian Bonneau-Nichols punt after the Centaurs failed to move the football on their first possession.

    The Hurricanes (3-2) recovered on the Centaur 25-yard line.

    Five plays later, quarterback J.B. Mills (14-for-28 passing, 186 yards) found Block for a 5-yard touchdown pass and an 8-0 lead for Amherst after the two-point conversion was successful.

    The Centaurs got the conversion back when Luis Miranda tackled Dan Block in the end zone for a safety with 5:40 left in the first half.

    But the offense, which accounted for only 155 total yards in the game, failed to produce a first-half touchdown.

    The Centaurs punted the football away on four of their remaining first-half possessions, an interception ended the other.

    Amherst made it 14-2 just nine seconds before halftime when sophomore C.J. Woodfine-Holmes took a Wildcat snap in from a yard out.

    The lone offensive highlight of the game for the Centaurs (1-4) came in the third quarter.

    Nick Bedard, who shared time at quarterback with Derek Thompson, used a quarterback draw, weaved his way through the Amherst defense and scored from 49 yards out.

    Bedard was the leading rusher for the Centaurs with 88 yards in 13 carries.

    Woodstock Academy then recovered the onside kick that followed Bedard's touchdown scamper on the 50-yard line.

    The Centaurs drove to the Amherst 8-yard line but stalled when Bedard was sacked on a 4th-and-4.

    Amherst countered with a 10-play drive that was capped by a Mills to Holmes (7 catches, 119 yards) 9-yard touchdown pass to account for the final.

     

     

     

     

    Another tough outing for football squad

    Football can be a frustrating sport.

    Take the Woodstock Academy Centaurs this season.

    When they have come off the field in each of their last two games, they have been dominant on the stat sheet.

    Unfortunately, that has not been reflected on the scoreboard.

    The Centaurs fell to 1-3 on Friday night in Ludlow, Mass., losing to the Lions 13-6, despite finishing with over double the amount of offense than their hosts.

    The problem for the Centaurs is two-fold.

    They have troubles finishing in the red zone and they have problems keeping possession of the football; two fumbles and two interceptions helped ruin their evening.

    “Unfortunately, we have to figure that out.” said coach Sean Saucier. “We have to keep working on ball security, not turn the ball over and give opponents extra possessions.”

    The Centaurs were driving on their first possession of the game and were at the Ludlow 19-yard line when the ball was jarred loose and recovered by the Lions

    The third possession ended in an interception by Ludlow safety Jeremy Garcia.

    The Centaurs drove to the Lions 22-yard line on their first possession of the second quarter, but gave the ball over on downs.

    After forcing Ludlow to punt for a third time, quarterback Derek Thompson (15-for-27, 134 yards) threw the ball into the end zone for Caleb Feen but the ball was picked by Jake Manewich.

    The Centaurs outgained the Lions 134-96 in the half.

    But were trailing on the scoreboard, 6-0.

    Their only defensive faux pas of the half was allowing Jamonte Beckett to get around the corner on a sweep to the left side with 54 seconds left in the first quarter. A missed tackle opportunity in the secondary allowed Beckett to go 48 yards for the score.

    The Centaurs had two chances to tie the game in the third quarter.

    Their first possession saw the Centaurs run the ball down the field thanks to the legs of sophomore Gavin Savoie and Jaden Dennett, but the drive stalled at the Ludlow 31-yard line.

    Savoie played a key role both on offense where he rushed 14 times for 95 yards and on defense.

    “He’s a warrior. I love that kid. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. I’m proud of him,” Saucier said.

    After another Ludlow punt, the Centaurs found a counter play that ate up some yardage, Dennett (12 carries, 37 yards) getting 26 yards in three carries, but a fumble ended their hopes at the Ludlow 38-yard line.

    The Centaurs forced Ludlow to punt the football again which was the story of the night for the Lions who had only 144 total yards.

    Outside of their two touchdowns, their other eight possessions all ended in them kicking the ball away.

    But Woodstock Academy had to go for it on a 4th-and-5 at their own 31-yard line. Dennett looked like he had got over the 35-yard line and was close to the 36 on his carry, but the officials placed the ball back near the 31.

    A stunned Centaurs team hadn’t even regrouped when Garcia (20 carries, 91 yards) burst through the middle to daylight for a 31-yard score and the 13-0 lead.

    The Centaurs did answer when Thompson completed four straight passes including a hook-and-ladder with Feen (8 catches, 65 yards) and a his longest connection of the night, a 28-yarder to Nick Bedard that got the Centaurs to the Ludlow 2-yard line. Dennett carried it in for the score on the next play with 3:40 left.

    The Centaurs had two more possessions, but never got further than the Ludlow 43.

    They finished with 314 yards on the night.

    “We have to stop putting ourselves in these positions. Similar to Week 1, we dig a hole and try to get out of it at the end. We have to stop doing that,” Saucier said.

    The Centaurs have their annual Homecoming game on Friday night under the lights at the South Campus of Woodstock Academy. The Centaurs will host Amherst. Mass. at 6:30 p.m.  

     

    Centaurs perform well, but fall to Trailblazers

    It may not have determined the outcome of the high school football game, but it certainly changed its trajectory.

    Early in the second half with the score tied, Woodstock Academy quarterback Derek Thompson looked like he had completed a pass to Caleb Feen just inside Capital Prep/Achievement territory.

    As Feen was going down, the ball popped out.

    Trailblazer defensive back Kadeem McKnight picked up the loose ball and returned it down the sidelines for a 56-yard touchdown.

    The early score led to 16 unanswered points for Capital Prep/Achievement Academy which held off the Centaurs, 29-15, at the Bentley Athletic Complex Saturday.

    After the game, no one truly knew whether it was a fumble recovery, if the ball had touched the ground, or an interception if it had not and whether or not it was a turnover at all.

    “I wish I knew what it was. Regardless, it was what was called and it definitely was not easy to overcome. A momentum swing is an understatement,” Woodstock Academy coach Sean Saucier said.

    Back on their heels, the Centaurs surrendered two more points when punter Damian Bonneau-Nichols was forced to punt from the end zone. The kick was blocked and the ball fallen upon by senior linebacker Roy Clemons for the safety.

    The Centaurs (1-2) did make a defensive stand after punting the ball back to the Trailblazers following the safety and forced them to punt.

    Unfortunately, Woodstock Academy failed to move the ball either and kicked it back to Capital Prep who took over on their own 49-yard line.

    Jeremiah Taylor (17 carries, 119 yards), on the first play from scrimmage, broke the line of scrimmage and outraced Woodstock Academy defenders to the end zone for the 51-yard score and a 23-7 Capital Prep lead.

    It would have been easy for the Centaurs to pack it in.

    They didn’t.

    The defense stepped up on the next two Capital Prep possessions.

    Nick Bedard intercepted a pass on one and the defense forced a punt on the other.

    “The defense played really well and that’s a tribute to Joe Humphrey, our defensive coordinator, he worked really hard this week to put in things to combat their offense,” Saucier said.

    Midway through the final quarter, the offense delivered.

    Derek Thompson (18-for-26 passing, 163 yards) completed a 10-yard pass to Feen (5 catches, 48 yards) following the Capital Prep punt. A personal foul moved it close to the 50 and Thompson found Bedard (2 catches, 53 yards) to take them halfway to the end zone.

    The rest came on the next play when Thompson lofted a pass over a Capital Prep for a 25-yard strike to Luis Miranda (6 catches, 48 yards) that made it a one-possession game again, 23-15.

    “That was one of the nicest throws and catches that I’ve seen our guys do. That was a halftime adjustment. We tried to figure out ways to beat the man coverage and we did a little switching among the receivers and their routes and we were able to free up Luis,” Saucier said.

    The Trailblazers (1-2) responded on their next series.

    They put one of their longest series of the day, a nine-play drive that chewed up over three minutes on the clock and ended with Taylor scoring on a 21-yard run with 1:08 to play.

    “I think we wanted to do more than just compete (Saturday). I think we had a good chance to win and a couple of unfortunate mistakes kind of did us in. We will come back stronger,” Thompson said.

    The Centaurs scored the first touchdown of the game on their first series.

    Feen intercepted a Solomon Barlow (6-for-15 passing, 34 yards) pass and returned it to the Trailblazer 24.

    Five running plays later, Jaden Dennett (11 carries, 40 yards) took it in from the 1-yard line for the quick 7-0 lead.

    Capital Prep responded with a nine-play drive, capped by Barlow’s 13-yard touchdown keeper.

    It was all the scoring the first half would see.

    “I was thrilled,” Saucier said of the 7-7 halftime score. “I told them that we were in a battle and it was awesome. It was a great game to coach, a great game to be a part of and our kids showed me something this week.”

    Saucier, prior to the game, called the matchup a litmus test for the Centaurs.

    “We definitely passed it,” Saucier said. “The bar will be raised now in practice. The mental toughness meter is being pushed up, not out of punishment, but out of reaching their potential. I think they showed it (Saturday) and now we have to go after it.”

    One thing the Centaurs will have to get better on is turnovers.

    Three Woodstock Academy passes were intercepted and it also turned the ball over on two fumbles, one at the Capital Prep 10 and the other resulting in the Capital Prep touchdown.

    “The turnovers came at tough times, right when we needed momentum, and we just lost it. I think we have to give it up for our defense, they did an unbelievable job all day,” Thompson said.

    The Centaurs go on the road on Friday for a 6:30 p.m. game at Ludlow, Mass.

    “It’s a Friday night. I’m sure it will be a great, small town atmosphere similar to Greenfield, Mass. If we can bottle what we did (Saturday) and bring it on the road, I like our chances,” Saucier said.

    The Centaurs downed Ludlow, 54-28, last season in Woodstock.

    Ludlow is 2-1 on the year and are coming off a 25-16 win over Amherst, Mass. whom the Centaurs will host on Oct. 5.

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  • Volleyball Weekly Roundup No. 4

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 10/22/2018

    Volleyball Weekly Roundup No. 4

    At halftime of the Woodstock Academy football game on Friday, members of the volleyball team stopped by following their 13th consecutive win, a 3-0 victory over Norwich Free Academy.

    They gathered around coach Adam Bottone who turned and asked them a simple question with a predictable answer.

    “’You like being No. 1?’” Bottone asked the assembled including seniors Sammie Orlowski and Emma Green and sophomore Amelia Large.

    In unison, they replied with an emphatic “Yeah.”

    On Wednesday, the Centaurs learned voters in the Connecticut Volleyball Coach’s Poll had chosen the Centaurs as the top team in the state, ahead of traditional powers like RHAM and East Lyme.

    “We talked about it (Thursday) in practice and they all said, they haven’t thought about it, they don’t want to think about it. They just want to play their game and goof around. I said, ‘Hey, it’s worked so far,’” Bottone said.

    Bottone’s job may have got a little tougher.

    If the Centaurs had only a small target on their back - which is doubtful considering they are undefeated and were Class L state runners up a year ago - coming into the week, it has since grown exponentially with the release of the poll.

    “I wasn’t surprised. I thought it would come eventually. I, personally, never vote us No. 1. I put Southington at No. 1,” Bottone said.

    Southington had more first-place votes than the Centaurs but lost out by two total points as Woodstock Academy ascended to the top spot for the first time in program history.

    Bottone attributed that to Southington losing to East Lyme in a tournament in New York, something the Centaurs coach took little stock in.

    “I often times look at my coaches and ask, ‘How are we the No. 1 ranked team?’ It’s not that we don’t have the skill, they just goof off. We’re dancing around and our warm-ups are always horrible, but come game time, they put their game faces on,” Bottone said.

    Green looks at it this way.

    “When we stay loose, we play better,” the senior said.

    The Centaurs apparently were pretty loose on Friday.

    They downed the Wildcats, 25-13, 25-20 and 25-13.

    "Another good win," Bottone said. "The first time we played them, the results were pretty similar. They have had some pretty good games against East Lyme, Fitch and Lyman so they have been playing better. One of our mottos is that 'No one beats us in our house' and we took it to them (Friday)."

    Natalie Low led the Centaurs with 19 kills while Paula Hernandez added 13 and 16 digs

    Orlowski contributed 28 assists while Maddy Gronski had 19 digs.

    “They put up a really solid fight. Every team we play right now is putting up a good game, but our attitude, our game, our defense, was all there (Friday),” Orlowski said.

    The win was important for another reason.

    Bottone has been coaching the Centaurs for 17 seasons and, in that time, the Centaurs have never won an Eastern Connecticut Conference divisional title by themselves.

    Despite a 23-4 record last season, Woodstock Academy shared the Division II regular season crown with Killingly.

    The Centaurs have been bumped up to Division I this season and currently lead with a 4-0 record with matches against Fitch this Wednesday and East Lyme next Thursday. Although they have to win both to take the championship without sharing, the match with the Vikings looms large. East Lyme finished last week with an 11-1 record, winners of 11 in a row.

    The only loss for the Vikings; a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Woodstock Academy in Woodstock in the season opener for both.

    The Centaurs posted an easy win over the state line last Wednesday, winning the first two sets against Southbridge,Mass. 25-5 and 25-9, and then finished it off with a 25-18 third set win.

    Gronski led the Centaurs with 21 digs while Orlowski had 15 assists.

    Hernandez (8) and Low contributed a combined 15 kills from the outside.

    "It was another one of those matches where I was able to get a lot of players in, get the girls some experience, and give the girls who play a lot a little rest; a well-deserved rest," Bottone said.

    The first match of the week started off a bit on the rocky side.
    The first two serves from the Woodstock Academy girls volleyball team found their way into the net.

    “Our service errors were up this match. We definitely will get to work on that in practice. The little extra focus of thought on play at the beginning would help us, but were able to pick it up and get back,” Orlowski said.

    Seriously, it was one of the few points that the Centaurs could be picked on for in their 3-0 victory over Montville last Monday at the Alumni Fieldhouse.

    The two misfires were mere blips on the radar screen that soon disappeared.

    The Centaurs rallied from the early 4-1 deficit in the first set for a 25-15 win.

    They made no such mistakes in the second set and rolled past the Indians, 25-7.

    “It was pretty nice,” Bottone said with a chuckle of the one-side second set victory. “In the intermission (between the first and second sets), we talked about what we were not doing defensively; getting caught up, not getting back to our base right away and not reading things well. We were getting beat deep on balls they were pushing. We needed to change that pretty quickly and they weren’t very successful against us with that in the second set.”

    The Indians also had no answer for Hernandez.

    The junior dominated the first two games, getting eight kills in the first and seven in the second before being used more sparingly in the third when Bottone tried some different combinations.

    It didn’t hurt much as the Centaurs outscored the Indians in the final set, 25-16.

    Low chipped in 12 kills for the Centaurs while Orlowski (19) and Green combined for 27 assists.

    Gronski added 13 digs.

    In addition to the 13 straight wins to start the season, the Centaurs have also won 33 of their last 34 matches.

    “I try not to think about it because there is a lot of pressure on us,” Orlowski said. “There is a lot of pressure to keep it and we have to be ready to lose. It could happen. I don’t want it to happen, but as long as we stay consistent, keep working hard in the gym, we may be able to remain undefeated. I don’t think it’s our main focus. Our main focus is to get better as a team.”

    Green just doesn’t want the season to end any time soon.

    The team is clearly enjoying the notoriety and the success and for the seniors, it’s one last season to shine on the volleyball court.

    “It feels really good,” Green said. “I’ve been on the team for the last four years and these girls are like family. It’s kind of sad, a little bittersweet.”

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  • Boys Soccer Weekly Roundup No. 5

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 10/22/2018

    Boys soccer Weekly Roundup No. 5

    While the Woodstock Academy girls soccer team was a virtual lock to win its Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I title, the boys soccer team needs a little help.

    A 3-1 loss to Bacon Academy on Friday on a wet field in Colchester meant the Centaurs had to hope that the Bobcats would do them a little favor and beat front-running Ledyard on Tuesday (the game ended too late for this edition).

    If that happened and if the Centaurs (7-5-1, 5-2 ECC Division II) beat Waterford on Tuesday, the division would end in a three- way tie for the regular season title.

    Brady Noniewicz gave the Bobcats the lead early in the match when a low save by Jack Lotter got away from the Centaurs’ keeper and Noniewicz stuffed in the rebound.

    The Centaurs regained the momentum when both Chase Anderson and Aaron Johnson had good opportunities.

    “They kept working and got their reward,” Centaurs coach Paul Rearden said.

    Doug Newton was fouled by Bacon Academy about 25 yards away from its net. Sean Rearden took the free kick and found the back of the net.

    The match went into halftime tied as another good chance, a header by Anderson, was popped up just a little too high and went over the crossbar.

    The sun made it tough on the Centaurs in the second half.

    The Bobcats were awarded a corner five minutes into the half which was cleared. But it was volleyed back in.

    “With the blinding sun right behind the ball, everyone, including our keeper (Isidro De Icaza), was unsighted and helpless to stop it from going in,” Paul Rearden said.

    Just five minutes later, Noniewicz again found himself in a good position to make a play.

    Bacon Academy was awarded another corner and the Centaurs again found themselves staring into the sun.

    Noniewicz took advantage and slipped in, glancing it off his head inside the near post.

    “The boys regrouped and fought to get back in,” Paul Rearden said.

    Anderson misfired on another and Reid Butler’s attempt was stopped by Bacon Academy keeper Ioannis Valkanos.

    “It wasn’t our day,” Paul Rearden said. “They all gave 110 percent and you couldn’t fault anyone for their effort, but things just went against us. Bacon Academy did well and the game was played with respect on both sides.”

    The Centaurs kept their hopes alive for a share of the ECC Division II regular season title on Wednesday by knocking off the previously undefeated, in division play, Ledyard Colonels, 3-0.

    Senior Ethan Holcomb scored on a header off a cross from Alejandro Quintas Gonzalez 28 minutes into the match to give the Centaurs the 1-0 halftime advantage.

    Eric Phongsa added a little insurance halfway through the second half when Sean Rearden slipped a ball into Huck Gelhaus who slid a through ball to Phongsa.

    Matt LaBounty put it out of reach 15 minutes later.

    A Rearden corner found the foot of Anderson.

    The fullback faked the Colonels’ defense which opened a path to LaBounty. His strike off the Anderson pass found the upper portion of the Ledyard net.

    “It was a complete performance from the lads. Not only did they move the ball quickly and smartly, but also did the less glamorous side of the game and gave 110 percent on every challenge and every 50/50. I’ve never been prouder of a Woodstock Academy team,” Paul Rearden said.

    The loss ended a nine-game winning streak for the Colonels (10-2, 6-1).

     

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  • Girls soccer weekly roundup No. 5

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 10/22/2018

    Girls Soccer Weekly Roundup No. 5

    The Woodstock Academy girls soccer team had a pretty productive week.

    The Centaurs put themselves in position to clinch an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I title with wins over East Lyme and Norwich Free Academy.

    All the Centaurs needed was a victory earlier

     and another over two-time defending Class S champion, Old Lyme, in the rain on Saturday.

    “This was probably one of the better wins for the program,” Woodstock Academy coach Dennis Snelling said.

    The 1-0 victory over Old Lyme came on the heels of a 3-1 victory over Norwich Free Academy on Friday.

    The two victories raised the Centaurs record to 9-0-2.

    “We managed it pretty well (Friday) with the minutes being shared. We brought up some JV players who did a good job. Other than the defensive line, which never subs out, it was a pretty conservative day for us with everybody else. It was an issue, but I knew we had plenty left for (Saturday),” Snelling said.

    Old Lyme did present a problem.

    Senior Mya Johnson is one of the better players in Connecticut, according to Snelling, and the Centaurs had to contain her.

    That job fell to Ashleigh Angle.

    “It was very difficult,” Angle said. “She had really good foot skills. I had to watch the ball the entire game. It was hard because I could not make as many passes as I wanted to Ivy (Gelhaus) and the strikers.”

    Johnson did get a couple of shots off.

    One Angle could not do much about.

    Old Lyme was awarded a direct kick about 35 yards out in the first half and Johnson’s kick was tipped just up and over crossbar by Centaurs’ keeper Irene Askitis.

    In the second half, Johnson sent a header toward the goal, but it somehow went wide to the right.

    “I just watched it. She’s a very dangerous player, not in the effect that she is physical, but she’s a very good, very strong player,” Angle said.

    Old Lyme (5-3-3) also had another good chance later in the half when it put another shot off the post.

    Nothing, however, found the back of the net until just 5:57 was left in regulation.

    The Centaurs were awarded a corner when Emma Redfield worked hard to tip the ball out off an Old Lyme defender and then lobbied for the corner.

    She got it.

    Gelhaus walked over and asked Redfield if she wanted to play a short corner to her.

    “We had been doing it in practice and in one game where we did a short 1-2 and I asked her if we should because there wasn’t a lot of time remaining in the game. Every shot is a shot and, luckily, it went in,” Gelhaus said.

    Gelhaus launched from 23 yards out with 5:57 to play, and unlike a similar effort against East Lyme where her shot struck the cross bar, this one got over the keeper’s hands and under the cross bar.

    It was the 15th goal of the season for Gelhaus and her fifth game winner.

    “It feels great,” Gelhaus said of the win. “Last year, we lost 3-0 to them and they seemed like the dominant team. This year, we were.”

    Gelhaus was the key figure in the Centaurs 3-0 victory over East Lyme to start the week.

    The senior scored all three goals.

    “I think our team is just so good and we have great chemistry. It’s easy for them to send me balls and it’s easy for me to get shots off because everyone on the team is working together so good,” Gelhaus said.

    Gelhaus scored just 15 seconds into the game, taking a pass from Regan Stuyniski off the opening kick.

    “It kind of set the tone for us,” Gelhaus said.

    Her second goal came with 6 ½ to play in the first half and finished off the hat trick with 13:10 left when she scored off an assist from Aislin Tracey.

    The Centaurs didn’t wait all that much longer to score their first goal against Norwich Free Academy.

    Just six minutes had ticked off in the first half when Peyton Saracina took a pass from Redfield for the only goal of the half.

    The Centaurs made it 2-0 just 1:50 into the second half when Saracina assisted on a Gelhaus goal and sophomore Gillian Price finished things up with her first goal of the season off a pass from Isabel Cintron.

    “We hadn’t seen NFA yet and were curious what they had, but they have been bothered by injuries. It was a good win, we were even with them last year, and it wasn’t all that close this year. I’m happy with that,” Snelling said.

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  • Field Hockey Weekly Roundup No. 4

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 10/15/2018

    Field Hockey Weekly Roundup No. 4

     

    The Woodstock Academy field hockey team needed a win pretty badly.

     

    The Centaurs got one last Thursday.

     

    “I think this game got our hopes up and we should be able to play with better intensity for the rest of the season,” junior Avery Jones said.

     

    They stopped a five-game losing streak with a 6-1 win over Norwich Free Academy on the road.

     

    “It’s huge especially since it was an (Eastern Connecticut) Conference game. Before (Thursday’s) game, we were ranked fifth which puts us out of the running for the conference tournament which is one of our goals,” coach Lauren Gagnon said.

     

    The win pushed the Centaurs (3-3 in the ECC) past Killingly (2-4) in the conference again and back into the fourth and final tournament slot with six more league games to play including two against the Fitch-Ledyard cooperative program.

     

    It also gave Woodstock Academy a 3-5 record for the first half of the season.

     

    The Centaurs will have to equal in the second half to make the state tournament and that’s something Gagnon feels is doable provided they stay healthy.

     

    Jones, personally, broke the ice against the Wildcats (0-10, 0-8).

     

    She had two assists in the game to give her seven on the season, but also scored her first two goals of the year.

     

    “They have been hard to come by,” Jones said of her lack of goals prior to the game with NFA. “Playing center-mid for the whole season, I’m playing further back so you really can’t get a goal as often.”

     

    Gagnon is hoping to see more of the same from Jones in the second half of the year.

     

    “She has these tremendous hits and she is really great at getting the ball up the field and distributing to kids who can then score. It just doesn’t translate to goals often for her,” Gagnon said.

     

    In addition, Jones plays the insert role on corners so she doesn’t get the benefit of the set plays.

     

    Eliza Dutson added a goal and an assist in the win.

     

    Emma Durand, Rachel Canedy and Samantha Mowry also scored.

     

    The Centaurs were coming off a rather interesting game.

     

    Not only did they face a difficult Valley Regional opponent in their Homecoming game on the South Campus turf last Tuesday, they did so in a torrential downpour that lasted the entire game.

     

    “I actually thought it was going to get canceled or postponed, but we played through it,” Jones said.

     

    The results were not what the Centaurs had hoped for as they fell short to the Warriors, 3-1.

     

    Gagnon said she remembered playing a college game in a “monsoon” where the two teams had to retreat to the press box and be, literally, inches from one another waiting for the weather to clear.

     

    It was awkward.

     

    But the conditions on Tuesday were probably the worst she experienced as a high school player or coach.

     

    “It’s memories,” Gagnon said. “They will never forget the time that they played Valley Regional and it was absolutely gross.”

     

    “Gross” would be a word that Jones would agree with.

     

    “I like playing in the rain but the constant pouring rain just soaked our clothes and you just get slower and it’s harder,” Jones said.

     

    Valley Regional seems to bring out the worst in Mother Nature.

     

    Gagnon said the last time the two met, in November of 2012, it was snowing and cold.

     

    “I remember Tessa Houlihan’s older sister, Meg, was wearing three sets of sweat pants and I asked her to go in and she was like ‘What?’” Gagnon said with a laugh.

     

    The Warriors scored twice in the first half with Abby Amara getting both off assists from Riley Millburne and Annie Cooper.

     

    Amara assisted on Cooper’s goal early in the second half.

     

    The only Centaurs tally came with 1 minute, 47 seconds left when Canedy took a pass from Jones and converted it into a goal.

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  • Girls Soccer Weekly Roundup No. 4

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 10/15/2018

    Girls Soccer Weekly Roundup No. 4

     

    The undefeated start for the Woodstock Academy girls soccer team continued last week although the Centaurs didn’t win every match they played.

    North Branford turned out to be a formidable foe on Saturday.

    The Centaurs (6-0-2) traveled to the Connecticut shoreline and brought back the second tie of the season with them, they and the Thunderbirds playing to a 1-1 tie.

    No overtime was played.

    Ivy Gelhaus scored her 10th goal of the season nine minutes into the second half when she intercepted a pass deep in North Branford territory and one-touched it home.

    That would be all the scoring the match would see until just 2 minutes, 23 seconds remained.

    Lexi Rosado knotted up the game for North Branford (4-0-4) on a direct kick and the match ended in the tie.

    The Centaurs outshot the Thunderbirds, 16-10.

    The shot category was much more one-sided in the Centaurs Homecoming match under the lights on The Academy’s South Campus on Wednesday.

    The Centaurs posted a 3-0 win over a banged up St. Paul Catholic squad, getting 30 shots at the Falcons net while the Woodstock Academy keepers could have done their homework instead of watching the match.

    St. Paul Catholic failed to get a shot off in the match.

    “Their goalkeeper (Hannah Duffany) kept them in it in the first half and gave them a good chance to stay with us. We had plenty of chances and a lot of possession. We made a few adjustments at the half and the second half we had a higher quality (of shots) in the second half,” Woodstock Academy coach Dennis Snelling said.

    The Centaurs didn’t take long to score.

    Senior Ashleigh Angle put the Centaurs ahead to stay just 1:18 into the match.

    "I don't even remember it, because I was so caught up in the moment. I was just running in, looking for the split in the defenders and I got my left foot on it and hoped that it would go over the goalie," Angle described.

    Gelhaus had another very good chance to score late in the first half when she sent a ball to the opposite corner that eluded Duffany (11 saves).

    But freshman defender Samantha Naples saved the Falcons from a two-goal deficit at halftime by kicking the ball out at the last second.

    “If we got that second goal of the first half, it might have opened up more, but that was a great save by the defender,” Snelling said.

    The 1-0 lead held until Angle made it 2-0 just 3:18 into the second half, taking a pass from Ivy Gelhaus and putting it into the net for her fourth goal of the season.

    There was almost a fifth.

    Angle got her head on a ball midway through the second half.

    "It hit the post right on the centimeter," Angle said.

    It bounced wide.

    That's how close the senior was to a hat trick.

    "I really wanted that third goal, but it was close," she added.

    “Ashley brings sheer athleticism, hard work and dedication to the team. She is the ideal student-athlete, absolutely dominates the 50-50 balls and keeps the ball going at (the opponent’s goal). It’s nice to see her score,” Snelling said.

    The Centaurs play their final two home games of the season this week before going on the road for the last five matches of the season.

    “That will be about being tough mentally and be ready for those home games. They are at night, against difficult opponents. We know, but we’re taking it one game at a time. We have no control over the schedule,” Snelling said.

    The Centaurs play at East Lyme on Tuesday and come home to play Norwich Free Academy on Thursday at 4 p.m. and Old Lyme at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

    After that, the Centaurs go on the road to play Fitch, Bacon Academy, NFA, Valley Regional and Killingly.

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  • Volleyball Weekly Roundup No. 4

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 10/15/2018

    Volleyball Weekly Roundup No. 4

    At halftime of the Woodstock Academy football game on Friday, members of the volleyball team stopped by following their 13th consecutive win, a 3-0 victory over Norwich Free Academy.

    They gathered around coach Adam Bottone who turned and asked them a simple question with a predictable answer.

    “’You like being No. 1?’” Bottone asked the assembled including seniors Sammie Orlowski and Emma Green and sophomore Amelia Large.

    In unison, they replied with an emphatic “Yeah.”

    On Wednesday, the Centaurs learned voters in the Connecticut Volleyball Coach’s Poll had chosen the Centaurs as the top team in the state, ahead of traditional powers like RHAM and East Lyme.

    “We talked about it (Thursday) in practice and they all said, they haven’t thought about it, they don’t want to think about it. They just want to play their game and goof around. I said, ‘Hey, it’s worked so far,’” Bottone said.

    Bottone’s job may have got a little tougher.

    If the Centaurs had only a small target on their back - which is doubtful considering they are undefeated and were Class L state runners up a year ago - coming into the week, it has since grown exponentially with the release of the poll.

    “I wasn’t surprised. I thought it would come eventually. I, personally, never vote us No. 1. I put Southington at No. 1,” Bottone said.

    Southington had more first-place votes than the Centaurs but lost out by two total points as Woodstock Academy ascended to the top spot for the first time in program history.

    Bottone attributed that to Southington losing to East Lyme in a tournament in New York, something the Centaurs coach took little stock in.

    “I often times look at my coaches and ask, ‘How are we the No. 1 ranked team?’ It’s not that we don’t have the skill, they just goof off. We’re dancing around and our warm-ups are always horrible, but come game time, they put their game faces on,” Bottone said.

    Green looks at it this way.

    “When we stay loose, we play better,” the senior said.

    The Centaurs apparently were pretty loose on Friday.

    They downed the Wildcats, 25-13, 25-20 and 25-13.

    "Another good win," Bottone said. "The first time we played them, the results were pretty similar. They have had some pretty good games against East Lyme, Fitch and Lyman so they have been playing better. One of our mottos is that 'No one beats us in our house' and we took it to them (Friday)."

    Natalie Low led the Centaurs with 19 kills while Paula Hernandez added 13 and 16 digs

    Orlowski contributed 28 assists while Maddy Gronski had 19 digs.

    “They put up a really solid fight. Every team we play right now is putting up a good game, but our attitude, our game, our defense, was all there (Friday),” Orlowski said.

    The win was important for another reason.

    Bottone has been coaching the Centaurs for 17 seasons and, in that time, the Centaurs have never won an Eastern Connecticut Conference divisional title by themselves.

    Despite a 23-4 record last season, Woodstock Academy shared the Division II regular season crown with Killingly.

    The Centaurs have been bumped up to Division I this season and currently lead with a 4-0 record with matches against Fitch this Wednesday and East Lyme next Thursday. Although they have to win both to take the championship without sharing, the match with the Vikings looms large. East Lyme finished last week with an 11-1 record, winners of 11 in a row.

    The only loss for the Vikings; a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Woodstock Academy in Woodstock in the season opener for both.

    The Centaurs posted an easy win over the state line last Wednesday, winning the first two sets against Southbridge,Mass. 25-5 and 25-9, and then finished it off with a 25-18 third set win.

    Gronski led the Centaurs with 21 digs while Orlowski had 15 assists.

    Hernandez (8) and Low contributed a combined 15 kills from the outside.

    "It was another one of those matches where I was able to get a lot of players in, get the girls some experience, and give the girls who play a lot a little rest; a well-deserved rest," Bottone said.

    The first match of the week started off a bit on the rocky side.
    The first two serves from the Woodstock Academy girls volleyball team found their way into the net.

    “Our service errors were up this match. We definitely will get to work on that in practice. The little extra focus of thought on play at the beginning would help us, but were able to pick it up and get back,” Orlowski said.

    Seriously, it was one of the few points that the Centaurs could be picked on for in their 3-0 victory over Montville last Monday at the Alumni Fieldhouse.

    The two misfires were mere blips on the radar screen that soon disappeared.

    The Centaurs rallied from the early 4-1 deficit in the first set for a 25-15 win.

    They made no such mistakes in the second set and rolled past the Indians, 25-7.

    “It was pretty nice,” Bottone said with a chuckle of the one-side second set victory. “In the intermission (between the first and second sets), we talked about what we were not doing defensively; getting caught up, not getting back to our base right away and not reading things well. We were getting beat deep on balls they were pushing. We needed to change that pretty quickly and they weren’t very successful against us with that in the second set.”

    The Indians also had no answer for Hernandez.

    The junior dominated the first two games, getting eight kills in the first and seven in the second before being used more sparingly in the third when Bottone tried some different combinations.

    It didn’t hurt much as the Centaurs outscored the Indians in the final set, 25-16.

    Low chipped in 12 kills for the Centaurs while Orlowski (19) and Green combined for 27 assists.

    Gronski added 13 digs.

    In addition to the 13 straight wins to start the season, the Centaurs have also won 33 of their last 34 matches.

    “I try not to think about it because there is a lot of pressure on us,” Orlowski said. “There is a lot of pressure to keep it and we have to be ready to lose. It could happen. I don’t want it to happen, but as long as we stay consistent, keep working hard in the gym, we may be able to remain undefeated. I don’t think it’s our main focus. Our main focus is to get better as a team.”

    Green just doesn’t want the season to end any time soon.

    The team is clearly enjoying the notoriety and the success and for the seniors, it’s one last season to shine on the volleyball court.

    “It feels really good,” Green said. “I’ve been on the team for the last four years and these girls are like family. It’s kind of sad, a little bittersweet.”

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