On Thursday afternoon blue and gold ice hockey jerseys featuring the classic WA Woodstock Academy Athletic Logo on the front were circling around the ice at the Jahn Hockey Rink, but this time it wasn’t boys under those uniforms, it was girls. The Woodstock Academy’s newly formed girls’ ice hockey program, which was launched this year, was in their first live action against someone other than themselves. The Lady Centaurs took on The Rectory School in a cross town scrimmage to prepare for their upcoming inaugural game which will take place on Wednesday December 21st at 5:15 PM against Suffield High School at the Jahn Hockey Rink at the Pomfret School. There will be a pre-game ceremony and a first puck drop at 5 PM to mark this historic event.
When surveys were conducted last year to determine if there was interest in forming a girls’ ice hockey team at The Woodstock Academy no one was sure what the level would be when the girls hit the ice this year. The anticipation is over and we are pleased to report that, for a first year program, the team looks very strong! The team features 14 players, many of whom have played organized ice hockey prior to this year. The team is able to run three lines of forwards, two sets of defense and they have an experienced goalie in Freshman Marie Gravier. On Thursday The Lady Centaurs showed that, even though they are a first year program, they won’t be a learn-to-skate type program, they are a ligament ice hockey team.
From the first face off until the final horn sounded the ladies dominated play outshooting the Wolves by a 5 to 1 margin in the scrimmage. Despite their dominance, the Centaurs were unable to score in the first period being turned away by the Rectory goalie who had an outstanding game between the pipes. Early in the second period Emma Ciquera skated past the outside defender and snapped a wrist shot low left past the outstretched pad of the Wolves goalkeeper to give the Centaurs a 1-0 lead. Midway through the second period there was a scrum in front of the net and the puck was bouncing around the crease when Eliza Dutson tucked it home for the 2-0 lead. A few minutes later it was Senior Captain Cassidy Thorpe’s turn to get on the board. With a hard shot from the left point Cassidy, who was positioned in from of the goalie, angled her stick and tipped the puck right between The Rectory goalie’s 5-hole to give the Centaurs the 3-0 lead. The remainder of the game stayed scoreless as the Lady Centaur’s walked away with a solid 3-0 victory. Although only a scrimmage, the team showed that they should be a strong team this year in their inaugural season.
Please join us on Wednesday December 21st at 5 PM for the Lady Centaur’s first ever ice hockey game as they take on Suffield High School at the Jahn Hockey Rink at the Pomfret School. If you are unable to make it Wednesday evening, but want to catch some of the action their game schedule is listed below.
Woodstock Academy 2016-17 Girls Ice Hockey Schedule
The Woodstock Academy’s Unified Sports program has been named a 2017 Unified Champion Banner School by Special Olympics International. The Academy was recognized on Friday, Dec. 9, at the Unified Leadership Summit at Aetna in Hartford.
Special Olympics Connecticut and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) combined to make Connecticut one of the first states in the country to participate in the Banner Unified Champion School program.
“I am very proud of our athletes and coaches for the hard work that they have put in to make our Unified Sports program a model for others to follow,” said WA Athletics Director Aaron Patterson. “We are thankful to be recognized for our efforts. Our Unified Sports team has brought value and joy to our institution and it has helped create a culture of acceptance. We are truly blessed to have this program at our school.”
According to the CIAC, to qualify for recognition, a Banner Unified Champion School must: have Unified Sports team(s) that participate(s) in at least two sports seasons; demonstrate Inclusive Youth Leadership; demonstrate Whole School Engagement; and ensure sustainability.
Schools honored receive a large banner that reads “Special Olympics Unified Champion School” and a sticker for that given year. The banners also include open space for future year stickers.
The Woodstock Academy has three unified sports seasons involving 11 unified sports athletes and more than 60 partners that help throughout the year. The Academy offers indoor soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and kickball and bowling in the spring.
Photo Caption: Members of The Woodstock Academy Unified Sports program display their Special Olympics Unified Champion School banner with Headmaster Chris Sandford (far right), Director of Athletics Aaron Patterson (far left), coach Yori Ayotte (third from left), and team manager Robin Smith (second from right).
After his first season as head football coach at The Woodstock Academy – the most successful since the re-launch of the program – Daryl Daleen has resigned. The move for Daleen came as a result of the need to relocate his family to provide the best care for one of his children who is undergoing treatment for a rare medical condition.
The Academy announced that veteran coach Sean Saucier will take over as head coach. Saucier will begin regular coaching duties immediately and will join The Academy full time as Head Football Coach and Assistant Athletic Director next summer.
Prior to joining The Academy, Saucier spent 13 years as the head football coach at the Hyde School’s Woodstock campus, and led his team to a New England Prep School Athletic Council bowl game in two of the last four seasons, posting a 23-8 record during that time.
The 2015 fall sports season at Woodstock Academy has been one of the best ever and it continues next week with field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer and volleyball all playing in the CIAC State Tournament. This is the first time that all four of these teams have made the state tournament in the same year. Below is the schedule of state tournament games which start on Monday 11/9
CIAC Tournament First Round Action:
Girls Soccer at Masuk High School in Monroe, CT - 2 PM
Volleyball at Branford High School - 6 PM
Field Hockey at Lauralton Hall High School - 2 PM
Boys Soccer at Guilford High School at Bittner Park - 5 PM
For all tournament action: State Tournament Website
Volleyball Advances to the ECC Semi-Finals Upsetting East Lyme On the Road:
After getting a quick picture of the boys soccer team, with Joey Thompson’s phone because my battery was too low to take a photo, I was off with my bag of popcorn and can or root beer to East Lyme High School to see our girls volleyball team play East Lyme in the ECC Quarterfinals. Despite Woodstock being seeded only one spot below East Lyme (#4 vs. #5), the word on the street was that East Lyme was the clear favorite. Since Woodstock Academy and East Lyme both played this year in the ECC Large Division they saw each other twice and East Lyme beat Woodstock both times, the first time 1-3 and the second 2-3 in a match that could have gone either way. Even though the Centaurs were the clear underdogs tonight playing East Lyme on the road, they played, as they have all year, with a chip on their shoulder and sense of defiance to the critics and predictors.
When the Centaurs came into this season, after back-to-back 10-10 seasons and, after losing players like Sarah Swenson, Kendall Wilcox, and Jacqueline Orlowski everyone was murmuring that this, down and rebuilding year, might be the one where the Centaurs don’t qualify for post season play. The players and coaches may have heard those whispers, but they certainly did not listen to them starting the season with three wins right out of the gates. After losing three of their next four matches, the Centaurs rallied off eight straight victories qualifying for the ECC and State tournament earlier this year than the past two. They stumbled to the finish losing their final four matches finishing with a record of 12-7 and a 5th seed in the ECC tournament. Many would argue that the Lady Centaurs have played above their ability this year, but if you ask the girls they are just playing, having fun, and proving everyone wrong. They may be lacking a dominant player this year, although ECC 1st Team All-Star and All-State nominee Jacqueline Low certainly has been dominant, they have something that the teams of the past few years did not where the sum of the parts is greater than the individual parts themselves. They are the true definition of a team and they have a killer instinct that is difficult to teach.
So when I walked into the East Lyme gymnasium tonight with the match into the second set I saw in the set column 1 for us and 0 for them. A good start! In the second set the Vikings played their “A game” and won handily 15-25. Which game was us tonight? The 25-16 first set victory or the 15-25 second set loss? We bounced back in the third set winning 25-18 and momentum was on our side. East Lyme started the fourth set with a 5-0 advantage before we scored our first point. They controlled the match the entire way holding a 3-4 point advantage throughout. Every break was going the way of East Lyme as were many of the controversial calls and it looked as if things would be going to a 5th and deciding game. “Not so fast!” say the Centaurs. This is, after all, the team that has ignored all the critics and proved everyone wrong this season. Down 22-20 the Centaurs chipped away 22-21, then tied, then 23-22, then 24-22 and in a flash it was over. The Centaurs took the 4th set and the match advancing to the ECC Semi-Finals which will take place tomorrow (well now today) Tuesday November 3rd at 6:30 PM at Norwich Free Academy against the #1 seed Falcons from Fitch High School. The critics and predictors will once again be counting the Centaurs out of this one, after all Fitch is near perfect on the season and is perfect in league play at 15-0. Surely the Falcons should win this one easily, as they have most of the matches this year. But don’t count the Centaur out yet! Too many people have already done that this year and these girls have proved them wrong each and every time.
Centaurs Win! ECC Finals Here We Come!
They are going to be yelling Azizzzzzzzz Hawasssssss from the hills of Woodstock all the way to mountains of Iraq! With 18:41 left in the first quarter Woodstock Academy senior Aziz Hawas, who just checked into the game, turned from 30 yards out and sent a top spin ball towards the goal. The ball hit off a Stonington defender and looked as if it would go wide right, but the ball kept spinning as it dipped and turned left past the Stonington goalkeeper and into the top right corner of the net. The goal gave the Centaurs a 1-0 lead and that is all they would need as they were able to shutout the Bears punching their ticket to the ECC Finals.
Stonington played a great game matching Woodstock Academy’s intensity throughout and controlling the second half of play. The Bears fought hard to the very end and they had some good scoring chances, none better than one that came with only minutes remaining in the game. Things looked troublesome for the Centaurs with a few minutes left when the ball was bouncing around the Woodstock defensive box. A Stonington player struck the ball to the low left side, but freshman Nick Godino dove to his right deflecting the ball before he dove on it to make sure a rebound was not given up. That was the last real scoring chance Stonington would get as Woodstock Academy kept the ball away from their goal box the rest of the way and the final seconds ticked off the clock.
This is the first time in school history that the boys’ soccer team has qualified for the ECC Tournament and they are making the most of it. The ECC Finals will take place on Wednesday November 4th at 7 PM at East Lyme High School. Tickets are $6.00 for Adults and $3.00 for Students/Seniors. We need ALL of Centaur Nation there to support the team as they look to take home their ECC Tournament Championship.
Not Even The Best Odd’s Makers Could Have Predicted This Semi-Final Match-Up:
I am not a betting man, in fact I have never placed a wager on any sporting event except when I was a child and would shake on gentleman’s bet with my father when a big game was on, and the few times I have visited a Casino it was to go to a basketball clinic or a basketball game, not to gamble. With that being said, after seeing the ECC boys’ soccer tournament bracket come out last week, if you said to me that you would give me even money or even better 2 to 1 odds that our boys’ soccer team, as the #10 seed, would make it to the ECC semi-finals I would have taken that bet in a heartbeat. Some would say that it is a good thing that I don’t bet with that kind of recklessness, others might call me a “homer” which would be an accurate description (after all I am the AD), but never the less I would have taken that bet. After watching this team develop this year, the effort they have put in, the progress they have made, and the competitive fire they have shown I not only thought the semi-finals was in reach I truly believed that it would happen. With that being said, if you said to me 50-1 odds or 100-1 odds that our team would make it to the semi-finals, in a tournament that never before even accepted teams past the #8 seed, and be wearing white jerseys in the game as the home team I would have never taken that bet. With us coming in as the #10 seed in the ECC Tournament and somewhere around the #22 out of 26 teams in the CIAC Tournament I thought the white jerseys and socks were washed and packed up for the last time. Well that was not the case tonight as the #10 Woodstock Academy Centaurs took on the #11 seed Bears from Stonington High School and our Centaurs were wearing white jerseys. What a sight – who would have ever guessed? Now don’t get me wrong, I was not weary of that bet because I did not think Stonington was not capable of making it to the semi-finals, but let’s be real folks, not one of you could have predicted that both the #10 and #11 seed would make it to the ECC Semi-Finals. One team, maybe, but both – not one of you predicted that. Be honest. But in the high school sports anything can happen and these two teams, who tonight were a mirror image of one another, fought their way to the ECC semi-finals. Tonight it was about who could play harder than one another. For us it was by far the hardest we have played this year, but Stonington was right with us each and every step of the way. They forced us to take our game to a level we have not been to this year. The difference was that our best scoring chance of the night deflected off of someone and spun into the net, while their best scoring chance of the night was picked off by our outstanding goalkeeper and kept from crossing the goal line. We will take it…we are on to the FINALS!
Mindset Lesson #2:
For those who read the last post I wrote on the girls and boys soccer teams winning their first round ECC Tournament game you probably remember the story about Noah Godino and Jake DeLashmutt and thie elevator ride where I said, “The mind is very powerful. It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it!” Well, here is mental mindset lesson #2 – The opposite is also true! Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” In the second half, while I was watching the game, there were three boys sitting one bleacher up to my left. I couldn’t help, but tune my ear to their conversation as they talked about their perspective on Woodstock Academy athletics and they couldn’t help, but admire my warm salty pretzel. At one of the stops in play one of the boys asked me politely, “Hello sir, would you mind telling me how much your pretzel was?” I answered, “$2.00”. He looked at his friend who was holding a one dollar bill in each hand and said, “Just get two candy bars.” And his friend said back, “But what about getting a pretzel?” “Ok” the young man who asked me about my pretzel said back, “Get a pretzel then and we will split that.” I turned and said, “It is very good. I highly recommend it.” He said, “Really? That sounds good.” I asked them who they were rooting for figuring they were waiting for the next game to start and were most likely from East Lyme or Bacon Academy. The young man replied, “Woodstock”. I was perplexed. “Woodstock?” I said back, “Why Woodstock?” He replied, “Oh…we are from Montville. We play on the boys’ soccer team here and we played Woodstock on Friday. They beat us so now we are rooting for them.” Interesting I thought to myself. “You guys have a great team and you had an awesome year” I answered. He said, “Yeah we lost like only two games this year, well until we lost to Woodstock.” He went on to say, “Our coach told us to focus on States and to not worry about the ECC Tournament.” The way he said it I could tell that the loss to us was still eating at him and I could sense that he was not happy with his coach for telling them that so I had to ask, “Do you think that was the right advice?” Without hesitation he replied, “No I don’t! Because it puts us in the wrong mindset not only for this tournament, but I think also for states. I think we should have tried to do better in this tournament.” The mind is very powerful. It is amazing what you can do (or not do) when you put your mind to it! Henry Ford was right. Yogi Berra as well when he said, "Ninety percent of this game is half mental." Mental Mindset Lesson #2: “If you think you can or think you can’t—you’re right.” (Henry Ford) Who knows, with a different mindset, maybe we would have been playing the #3 seeded Montville Indians tonight and wearing blue jerseys instead of white ones.
The Concessions Were Great! Even though I Now Smell Like a Clam J
Montville High School AD Phil Orbe and his staff, and tournament director Scott Elliot, the AD at Lyman Memorial High School, ran a fantastic game tonight. When I arrived I was greeted nicely by the chipper and smiling ticket taker, the announcer had a pleasant voice and he kept me informed throughout the game, they actually had music which created a great atmosphere for the game (what a concept), but my favorite part of the fan experience was the concessions – ohhhh those concessions. A warm pretzel, a hot cup of clam chowder, and a root beer – it doesn’t get better than that! When I came into the game I couldn’t help, but noticed the concession stand. The pretzels staring me in the face, the smell of freshly popped popcorn, candy wrappers dangling from a rope stretched across the open concession stand window. I felt like a kid in a candy store, the temptation so great. But I resisted…well at least until halftime L. I kept telling myself – “will power” – “you can do it”! It was dinner time, the belly was empty, and after seeing those concessions on my way in and again at halftime I couldn’t resist any longer. A pretzel, a hot cup of chowder, and a root bear was the order for a mere $6.00. I was so excited to enjoy the second half by indulging myself with sweet and salty treats, and anxious to see the second half unfold that, when I started walking back to my seat, I, without even knowing it, tipped the open bowl of clam chowder and it splashed on the ground until one of the women selling goodies at the Project Graduation table yelled across the way, “Your chowder is spilling.” She probably thought to herself, “Who is that guy?” Half of the bowl had spilled on the ground splashing up on the bottom of my pants and onto my shoes. What a mess, I smelled like a bowl of clam chowder and I had to spend the next 5 minutes cleaning my pants and shoes, but I didn’t care because the treats tasted so good and the second half went our way. It was a GREAT DAY to be a Centaur!
By the way, on my way out I grabbed a bag of popcorn and another root beer for my ride to East Lyme to see or girls volleyball team play in the ECC Quarterfinals. I couldn’t resist and besides the fact who knows when I will be back at Montville High School for a game. Maybe not until next year!
We're Moving On!
Both Girls and Boys Soccer Advances in ECC Tournament
Glad to Be In:
In the year 2000 Woodstock Academy joined the Eastern Connecticut Conference. Shortly after the ECC started post season conference tournaments to bring excitement to the teams and to the local area. The tournaments have been a huge success drawing large interest from parents, fans, and the community. Despite our long and storied history in boys’ soccer we have never qualified for the ECC tournament despite regularly being in the CIAC state tournament. When the ECC tournament first began only the top four teams qualified, a few years ago it was expanded to six, last year eight, and this year, for the first time ever, all teams who qualify for the state tournament also qualify for the ECC tournament. Being in the large division, with perennial power teams like Bacon, East Lyme, and NFA, it was difficult for us to crack the top two in our division to get is in the conference tournament. This year, with the expanded format, our boys’ team qualified for the ECC Tournament first time ever because they surpassed the state threshold of 40% win percentage going 8 and 8 this year. The girls, on the other hand, have not only qualified for the ECC Conference Tournament, but they have had tremendous success in the tournament. The past two years the Lady Centaurs have made it to the championship game. This year, however, the Woodstock Academy girls’ team also benefitted from the expanded tournament format because under the old qualifying standards they would have been on the outside looking in. Needless to say the teams were grateful to be in the ECC tournament this year so they wanted to take advantage of the opportunity given to them. The boys’ team ended up being seeded 10th and the girls 9th this year which meant they would both be playing a first round game on the road.
A Lock Down, Pouring Rain, and Playing on the Road Cannot Distract the Centaurs:
It is rare, if ever, that our fall teams have to get an early release from school for a game until the clock change and it is tournament time. However, with the impending storm coming, the ECC first round playoff games were moved to 3:00 PM to make sure they were played to completion and with the early start the teams had to be dismissed early from school. Wouldn’t you know that Murphy’s Law would rear its ugly head at the worst time? Who invented Murphy’s Law anyways? Surly it wasn’t an optimist. Well, wouldn’t you know that the one time we had a lock down at school would be the first time that we had both soccer teams in the ECC tournament playing on the same day and both needing an early release from school? Talk about throwing us all a curveball. But, with Mrs. Singleton’s calm and optimistic approach and with Mr. Sandford’s steady leadership, their team of staff members sprang into action, to not only keep the school safe, get over 1000 bags searched, but to also identify, escort, and feed the soccer players on both the boys and girls teams. As the players were rounded up they gathered in the Commons where they had some lunch and gathered their uniforms and belongings. The rosters were checked and checked again to make sure no players were missing. The Woodstock Academy staff worked as a team that even John Wooden would have been proud of, everyone chipping in to get the job done. Once things looked to be in good order the players headed out to their buses, but before departing Director of Athletics Aaron Patterson had a few last words for the teams. “After all that happened today, after all that everyone had to do to make sure you got to your game on time, both teams HAVE TO WIN today!” The players responded in unison, “We got this!” You could feel their sense of confidence. Once the teams boarded the bus Mrs. Singleton said to Coach Morse, “If their adrenaline is not up for the game than I don’t know what to tell you.” As the team headed out the rain began to come down and it rained harder, and harder, and harder all afternoon long.
For many teams the early release, the lock down, the rain, and having an early road game would have been a major distraction. Here at Woodstock Academy we always try to emphasize to the players to focus on the things you can control and block out the things that are out of your control. Easier said than done! Distractions are real and they even affect the highest level athletes. For some reason, however, the New England Patriots never seem to be distracted by outside factors. Surely that is a major factor for their year-in and year-out success. If you have ever heard a press conference by either Tom Brady or Bill Belichick you would know exactly what I mean. At one press conference last year I remember a reporter asking Tom Brady how he thought the weather would affect the team since they were expecting horrible weather. He simply said, “Both teams will have to play in the same conditions. We just have to be better prepared than our opponent. We practice in all types of weather every day and I believe we prepare better than anyone so we will be ready to go.” On a different occasion a reporter asked Bill Belichick a question about playing on a short week like they had to do this week against the Dolphins. Belichick responded by saying, “For every short there is a long week that follows and for every long week there is a short week. We prepare the same way regardless of the circumstances. We have to be prepared to play our best in all three phases of the game. We are facing a tough opponent so we have to be ready to go.” Their focus is amazing! Well our girls and boys soccer team’s focus was also amazing on Wednesday afternoon. They blocked out the distractions and focused on the task at hand – playing great soccer. And that is exactly what they did. The girls played a great game beating a tough Lyman Memorial team 2-0. Scoring for Woodstock was Ashliegh Angle and Makara Sorel both on unassisted goals. On the boys side they left no doubt about a victory beating Griswold 3-0 goals scored by Jacob DeLashmutt, Noah Godino, and Aziz Hawas. For Aziz it was the first goal of his career and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Was the Elevator Good Luck? Or Was It Their Mental Mind Set?
When the teams headed out to the bus from the cafeteria for the game Joey Thompson, who plays goalkeeper for the Centaur’s boys’ team, was on crutches from a recent injury. Prior to departing Mrs. Singleton asked Joey if he wanted to take the elevator to the back parking lot and that he could have a few friends join him. I escorted Joey, Jake DeLashmutt, and Noah Godino to the cafeteria elevator. When we got on the elevator we were joined by our outstanding Chef and Kitchen Manager Jackie Desabre. When the doors shut we all did what everyone does when they are on an elevator. It went silent and everyone looked at their feet. So I asked, “Why does everyone always become quiet when on an elevator?” Everyone laughed and that broke the ice. I then told Jake and Noah that riding the elevator was going to be good luck for them. Since they both got to ride down the elevator with Joey, they would both have to score a goal in the game. They both assured me that they would score. So later that evening when I receive the text message from Coach Morse with the result I read, “WA 3 – Griswold 0 – no cards. Goals Noah Godino, Jake DeLashmutt, and Aziz Hawas.” Jake and Noah both scored I thought to myself. Awesome! The elevator was good luck…or was it their mental mindset? The mind is very powerful. It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it!
The teams are moving on. The girls play at #1 East Lyme on Friday 10/30 at 5 PM and the Boys head to #2 Montville for a 6:30 PM game. They are both playing top seeds and great teams, but if they stay focused, control what they can control and block out any distractions, and if they put their mind to it you never know what can happen.
Boys Finished in 4th Place Out of 18 Teams