By Austin Bruno
CHESHIRE -- A too-confident Cheshire High School boys soccer team lost its step and forgot the winning season's lessons of balance and chemistry in its last game before the start of the Southern Connecticut Conference series.
The relentless Wilbur Cross Governors cooled off the previously white-hot Rams, 3-0, at Cheshire High Thursday evening.
Cheshire (12-4-2) is fresh off a division-clinching win against Sheehan, but such good fortune didn't follow them into Thursday's non-conference game against Wilbur Cross (6-7-2).
Indeed, a Cheshire fan in attendance at this game "wanted a little momentum for Saturday." That's when Cheshire starts the conference series.
Cheshire had wrapped up their fourth Housatonic division title in 10 years. Yet after that boost of confidence, Cheshire faced off against Wilbur Cross, the apparent underdog.
Cheshire maintained possession for the majority of the first half of play, but lacked the initiative to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
"If we play like this, we're not going to go anywhere -- period. It's not in our DNA.... There's no desire, there's no motivation, and that's what happened today," Rams coach Arturo Branco said.
With 19:32 left in the first half, the Rams began to neglect their defense and Wilbur Cross began to take advantage, scoring its first goal.
Branco told his team at the half to keep pushing forward and continue to put up a brick wall of an offense.
But, Cheshire's offense relented a bit in the second half, no longer dominating possession of the ball. Senior defender Eric Dishnica pulled through with the closest goal scoring opportunity for Cheshire, met by an even more resilient Wilbur Cross defense.
In the middle of the half, a Cheshire corner kick was nearly headed in, but to no avail. That was quickly followed by a rebound that got swatted away with 16 minutes left in the game as the Rams grew desperate.
Cross responded with a proper goal, lifting them to a 2-0 lead with just 4:40 to play.
The game's final score was reached with 22 seconds left. The Rams never hit their offensive stride.
Rams senior defender Sidharth Subramani said that, after a successful season, there's a real need to keep egos deflated and to put the loss out of their mind.
"We need to stay humble, just to keep our head down and keep moving forward," he said.
By Gabbi Riggi
HAMDEN -- The winds blustered through the pine groves as the Storm of St. Luke’s School rolled in to Hamden. But the gusts would prove too strong as Hamden Hall fell to St. Luke’s, 2-0, on Thursday afternoon.
“St. Luke’s is a very good team, so I think for us being able to compete with them and battle with them is good, good for our confidence,” said Hamden Hall Country Day School head coach Christine Huber.
But the Hornets (4-6-1, 0-4-1 FAA) held on strong against the offensively potent Storm (9-2-0, 6-1-0 FAA), which posted 15 goals in the previous six Fairchester Athletic Association contests this fall.
The Hornets held the Storm, which posted only seven shots all game, scoreless in the first half.
Five minutes into the half, Hamden Hall got its best chance of the afternoon off of a corner kick play that ricocheted high off of the crossbar. Even with six shots on goal, forcing five saves, the Hornets struggled to convert its opportunities.
“We also didn’t shoot a lot. I thought we should have challenged the keeper more,” Huber said.
“We probably should have had more shots from distance—30, 35 yards… We keep on working on sending balls over top and through balls towards the corner flag.”
It wasn’t until the midway point of the second half that the Storm pushed past the Hornets and converted at the 61-minute mark off a deflection and another just three minutes later on a hard 20-yard kick in front of the box that sailed just past the fingertips of Miranda Iannone in net.
For Huber and her Hamden Hall squad, the catalyst in formation wasn’t in transition between the halves, but a reactionary measure.
“We didn’t change our game plan between the first and second half, we changed the game plan once we went down a goal,” Huber said.“Then we started moving, changing our formation to have more forwards up front to try and equalize it.”
The switched moved three forwards up to add more players through the midfield to have numbers against the defense.
For Huber, the strong forward presence paired with the good work in net is something she takes pride in against the second best team in the conference. It is also something she anticipates carrying on through the end of the year.
“St. Luke’s is a very good team, so I think for us being able to compete with them and battle with them is good, good for our confidence,” Huber said.
“We still have three more conference games that are not on the top end, like St. Luke’s is, so I’m hoping we come and play like we did today to the other conference teams.”
Hamden Hall has three FAA games remaining on the schedule, where the workload doesn’t get any easier. The next match is at third-place Greens Farms Academy, then hosting the Williams School before closing out the season against last-place King.
While the path to the postseason may be uncertain for the Hornets, a winless squad that sits eighth of nine teams, the drive to finish the season higher in the conference is palpable.
“I’m hoping that we just keep building off of it, and get better these last two weeks,” Huber said. “We’re aiming to get into New Englands, so a lot depends on what we do these last four games.”
By Tanner Harding
It may have been Senior Night for the Amity High School girl’s swimming and diving team, but it was juniors Maggie and Megan Lasto who really shined in the team’s 93-84 victory over North Haven High School.
The girls, who are twins, placed in the top three in every event in which one of them participated, except for the 100-yard backstroke, which North Haven (6-5) swept.
However, Amity (9-3) took first place in seven out of the 12 events, in a dominant performance that pleased head coach Todd Rainey.
“This is what I was hoping for,” Rainey said about the win. “Sometimes on senior night, the focus isn’t always on what it’s supposed to be on, but the girls really stepped up and did a good job tonight.”
Before the meet, Amity honored seniors on both teams on the pool deck, which was donned in black and yellow streamers, balloons and signs for the Amity seniors.
A member of the Amity team gave a flower to each North Haven senior in recognition of their years dedicated to swimming and diving.
Coaches then honored the seven Amity seniors with their parents on the deck, a bouquet of flowers, and gave the four captains—Hannah Flaherty, Kelly Grindall, Diana Karsanow, and Brittany Smith—a gift bag, as well.
This particular group of seniors has seen a lot of success with a 43-4 record over the past four years. The team was undefeated from 2011 until last year, when the it stumbled a little after losing a big group of seniors.
However, with Maggie and Megan leading the way, Rainey doesn’t seem concerned that losing seven more girls will present the same problem.
“We’ve lost some big swimmers in the past, but we always seem to have girls step up” he said. “We’re going to miss (the seniors) but we’re going to be OK.”
Megan echoed this sentiment.
“We all work together to push each other, I think, and bring the freshmen up to our level,” she said.
Maggie placed first in both the 200-yard medley relay and the 500-yard freestyle, and placed fourth in the 100-yard backstroke—the best of any Amity swimmer.
Megan placed first in the 200-yard individual medley, first in the 100-yard butterfly and was on the winning 200-yard freestyle relay team.
This meet was the team’s final dual meet of the season and Rainey is looking forward to the twins’ performances in the state competition the team has coming up.
“I look to them to be state finalists in the championship heat, and hopefully state open qualifiers like they were last year,” Rainey said. “[We look for] them to again to lead us and show us how it’s done.”
By Ariana Stover
ORANGE -- In the final meet of the season, the Amity High School girl’s swimming and diving team defeated North Haven by a score of 93-84 at Orange Community Center Pool.
Before the meet began, Amity’s seven senior swimmers sat by the pool among their family members and received gifts in honor of their final season with team.
Over the past four years, this senior class has helped to earn its team a total record of 42-4. Between 2011 and up until the final meet of the 2014-15 season, Amity (9-3) hadn’t lost a single regular season meet.
Tonight, Amity’s swimmers dominated North Haven (6-5) as they placed first in eight of the 12 events.
North Haven had its most success in the diving events as Isabella Alogna finished first with a score of 183.75.
On senior night, though, it was a pair of junior twins that shined.
Megan and Maggie Lasto placed first in four different events between the two of them. The 200-yard medley relay was the first event of the evening and Amity placed first with a time of 2:00.59 with Maggie swimming solid to start off the night.
Megan placed first in the third event, the 200-yard individual medley, with a final time of 2:17.75 and later again in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:01.88.
For the twins, swimming alongside each other has never really been a competitive thing.
“It’s so fun,” Megan said. “We always joke with each other and it’s just fun to share it with her.”
The Lasto twins continued to log impressive times as the meet went on. In the 500-yard Freestyle event, Maggie swam to first place with a time of 5:33.88, an impressive seven seconds faster than second-place Jasmine Nguy of North Haven.
But the girls are always looking to get better. Next year, Megan hopes to progress in all facets of her swimming.
“Get better times and try just to improve my stroke in general, my turns,” Megan said. “Just try to do the best I can for the team.”
The swimming community is tight-knit. MaryAnn Smith, mother of Amity senior Brittany, said that the team’s head coach Todd Rainey, coached her daughter when she started swimming.
The feeling of unity is overwhelming in the environment of a swim meet. Cheers and words of encouragement echo throughout the room as the swimmers push through the pool. And those senior voices will be missed next season, the swimmers said.
“They always just say, ‘Do it for the team,’” Megan said. “They’re always just supportive of everybody no matter what.”
Losing seven veterans to graduation isn’t going to be easy, but head coach Rainey said the team has been lucky.
“Knock on wood, we always seem to have girls coming in,” Rainey said. “We’ve lost some big swimmers in the past and [we] always seemed to step up.”
Southern Connecticut Conference Trials begin Monday, Nov. 2, at 4 p.m. against North Haven.
By Justin Cloutier
CHESHIRE -- Matching the 11 shutouts she had her sophomore season, Cheshire High School junior goalkeeper Alyssa Stevens turned away everything Guilford smacked her way Tuesday in a 1-0 home victory to continue her stellar year.
Cheshire (13-1) continued its six-game win streak by defeating Guilford (8-7-1) in a league field hockey game 1-0 on this cold autumn evening.
Midfielder Sara Pierpont scored the only goal for the Rams off a penalty with just three minutes left in the game to secure the win.
The teams have faced each other twice this season—the first resulting in a a scoreless tie to open the season, meaning that Stevens started and finished her season with a shutout against Guilford.
“Alyssa Stevens is tremendous,” Michelle Federico, a Quinnipiac University midfielder and former teammate of Stevens’ at Cheshire, said. “She creates a solid defensive unit for Cheshire and is truly an amazing athlete.”
Stevens posted eight saves in the game and has been strong all season.
Before the game, Cheshire head coach Eileen Wildermann said Stevens is one of her players that needs to play well in order for them to win.
The junior delivered.
First-half action started out as Guilford came out with three quick penalty corners. Stevens denied all of them. Stevens needed to play well because Guilford kept peppering the net with shots.
“Today was an example of how we can play even when we’re not on the same page,” Wildermann said.
“Teenage girls come with their own set of problems—one might be a boyfriend thing. One might be in a bad mood, or one might have a test, and if we don’t leave that off the field, then we don’t gel, and tonight was an example of that.”
The rest of the half consisted of mostly Cheshire possession. Cheshire finished the half after Guilford senior goalie Brooke Misbach denied five unanswered penalty corners.
“We’ve been working a lot on me in practice,” Misbach said. “I’ve figured out my mental issues.”
Misbach finished the game with six saves.
“Brooke played very well,” said Guilford head coach Katharine “Kitty” Palmer.
Both teams fired off multiple shots in the second half. Sophomore forward Olivia Clarke led Guilford with three shots, and junior midfielder Teddi Stanley posted two shots, both penalty corners.
“We work on our corners every day,” Palmer said. “We just get in a game and things don’t seem to go our way, whether it’s a bounce here or a bounce there.”
Cheshire finished the game with nine attempted shots.
With three minutes left in the game, Pierpont got a pass from freshman midfielder Bailey Cunningham, and made no doubt with her shot as the ball hit the back of the cage.
“Our penalty corners have been close all game,” Pierpont said. “I was so happy to get that pass because we’ve been trying so hard all game and we finally got it.”
Cheshire will go into the playoffs Saturday, and will most likely play Sacred Heart Academy in the first round of playoffs at Alumni Stadium in Cheshire.
Continuing their winning streak, the Cheshire Rams (16-2) swept the Shelton Gaels (12-6) for their regular season finale Monday night.
The spotlight was truly on the seniors as they dominated the starting lineup.
“It really wasn’t our true lineup,” said head coach Sue Bavone about starting the seniors for senior night. “But you know, they got it done. They were able to do it so that was great.”
Not only did they get it done, they got it done with ease.
Taking the first set 25-16, the Rams then created a comfortable gap by opening the second set with a 10-0 run.
The team beamed with confidence as its offensive end proved to be no match for the Gaels.
Marli Green, a senior middle hitter, led the front row with eight kills and five blocks for the match.
“She’s solid,” Bavone said. “You know she can really intimidate the heck out of any high school defense.”
Upon every kill by Green, the crowd would chant in unison, “Whoop! There it is!”
Green said she uses her confidence strategically in matches.
“I like to look confident. When you look confident, it helps intimidate the other team,” she said.
This tactic proved useful as Green marked four kills in the second set, which the Rams took, 25-5.
The third set started slower, beginning with a close score of 5-5. But after Bavone called a timeout , the Rams took back their lead by minimizing errors and having a consistent offensive run by senior setter Eleonora Ascheri.
Green scored the final point of the match with a kill from the middle, ending the game 25-16.
Bavone said the collective ease throughout the match has been the team’s main goal throughout the season.
“The type of kids we have are just very analytical, over-thinkers,” Bavone said. “And we’re just trying to tell them to start talking and start communicating and you won’t have to think so much and just play. So, that’s something we’ve really been working on.”
As the Rams head into the playoffs Saturday, Bavone hopes improved passing will allow for an offense more centralized around Green.
“Our free ball passing needs to be a lot better because we need to be able to run her,” Bavone said. “We need her for offense, and if we can’t get these free ball passes, that’s something we have struggled with all year.”
The Rams’ six-match winning streak should provide momentum heading into playoffs.
Green said, “I think this win will help a lot, and each practice we ramp it up a little harder.” .
For the nine seniors, the victory signified the final match on their home court, but the beginning of what is left to come.
By James Anderson
CHESHIRE--A fast paced, creative offensive attack, a strong defensive system and chemistry carried the Cheshire High School boys soccer team this season.
With a 2-0 win over Sheehan, Cheshire (11-1-2) clinched the Housatonic Division title of the Southern Connecticut Conference for the first time since 2011 with a 5-1-1 record.
The Rams also won the division as the outright champions for the first time since 2006 after sharing in 2007 and '11.
The division-clinching win came at home against the Titans (5-5-4, 3-2-2 SCC Housatonic). To do it, the Rams paid extra attention to sticking to their defensive formation. The Rams were disciplined and only left their 4-4-2 setup in obvious offensive situations.
Cheshire head coach Artur Branco said that this was all a part of shutting down one particular Sheehan forward – Alex Ramirez
“Today we really focused more on our defensive shape because they are a very good team… (Ramirez) is a really good player for them,” Branco said. “Our focus was really to neutralize him. We felt if we did that the game would take care of itself. ”
Ramirez produced three strong early opportunities for the Titans, but the Rams defense shut him and the Titans offense down only allowing three shots on goal for the entire game.
All-conference forward Jacob Goldstein paced the Rams' fast-paced offense as he continued to add to his strong senior year performance with two goals.
Goldstein’s first goal came 10 minutes into the game. Off a broken play, the ball was lobbed to junior Mitch Manware. Manware crossed the ball in with pace to Goldstein for a beautiful heel flick deflection into the side netting.
The second goal came seven minutes into the second half. A long through-ball pass from junior Dante Rubano led Goldstein. Beating out a defender, Goldstein went to the net on a breakaway and poked it under the arms of charging sophomore goaltender Nicolas Trivino Martinez.
That was all the offense needed to clinch the win.
Eighteen of the 23 roster members of the Rams are upperclassmen, many of whom made up last years’ four-win team.
Goldstein believes that the familiarity in the roster has attributed to the team’s success.
“Over the years, we’ve played together a lot,” Goldstein said. “Even the incoming freshmen, we’ve played with them before. It also helps coming into the season, everybody knew (the freshmen). It certainly helps for team chemistry.”
Two of the three freshmen on the roster are brothers of upperclassmen on the team – Goldstein’s younger brother Toby is on the squad, as are the Mayano brothers, Andrew a junior, and freshman Matthew.
While proud of the teams’ accomplishment, Branco knows there is the tougher test of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament to prepare for.
“We’re going to try and enjoy it tonight,” Branco said. “We have another game Wednesday. We’re going to look at it as a learning opportunity to prepare for the games ahead.”
The Rams finish up the regular season at home Wednesday as they host Wilbur Cross. The SCC Tournament starts Saturday.
By Alec Turner
CHESHIRE -- All season, Cheshire High School junior goalkeeper Alyssa Stevens has been the backbone for the field hockey team. The reigning All-Southern Connecticut Conference goalie continued her success Friday as she made six second-half saves in the Rams’ 4-1 win over the Hamden Dragons.
Cheshire (9-2-2-1, 8-0-1-1 in the SCC) has won four straight games and given up only one goal in the last 240 minutes.
With the loss, Hamden (6-8-0-0, 4-5-0-0 in SCC) snapped its two-game winning streak.
The Rams scored three goals in the first half and held the ball in the Dragons’ territory. They put nine total shots on Hamden’s goalkeeper Brianna Craft.
Cheshire head coach Eileen Wildermann was pleased about the production of the offense in the first 30 minutes of play.
“Our first half was a good boost for us moving forward. We tried some new things in our passing patterns and transfers,” Wildermann said.
Forward Mikayla Crowley got Cheshire on the board just three minutes into the game. It was the first of two goals on the day for the freshman. She now has four on the season to go along with an assist.
“She doesn’t understand how big this is for her,” Wildermann said. “She gives us such a spark.”
The Rams’ offense kept possession for the majority of the first half, to where Hamden didn’t get a shot on net for the entire first half.
Wildermann brought the offensive success back to having a veteran like Stevens in net.
“We can take some offensive risks because we have a good goalie. We wouldn’t be able to do that if we had an average goalie,” Wildermann said.
The Rams got their second goal of the game with 13 minutes left in the half. Junior right forward Sarah Pierpont weaved through two Hamden defensemen and passed the ball right to senior forward Samantha Vitale to make it 2-0.
Pierpont leads the team in points, goals and assists with 17, five, and seven, respectively.
“She really exploded and got all the offensive things going,” Wildermann said.
Stevens ended her shutout streak with four minutes left in the game on a Hailey Collins goal.
“We’ll get her another one [shutout] in return,” Wildermann said.
The win secures Cheshire in third place in the SCC standings. With two games left before the conference tournament on Oct. 31, the Rams need to win out and have Lauralton Hall and Daniel Hand to lose to get the top seed in the tournament. The Rams beat Daniel Hand and lost in overtime to Lauralton Hall earlier this season.
Hamden sits at seventh in the conference, and is in control of its destiny in making the tournament next week.
“I think we are in a very good position,” Wildermann said about facing the other top teams in the conference. “We have the ability, but we just have to put the package together.”
The Rams play Saturday afternoon at Greenwich and host Senior Night Tuesday night against Guilford.
By Ariana Stover
WOODBRIDGE -- Despite the crisp chill of the fall air and a winless start to the season for the Amity High School football team, students shuffled to the stands at William Johnson Field field in droves.
The Amity Spartans (1-5) defeated the Hamden Dragons (1-5) 49-20 Friday night to give Amity its first win of the season.
Amity had a hot start in front of a noisy crowd, scoring on its first drive of the game with a touchdown from junior running back Colin Beaulieu. Beaulieu had a strong first quarter, scoring both of Amity’s touchdowns to put his team up 14-0.
Beaulieu has been a prime offensive weapon for the Spartans this season and his success continued as he tallied three touchdowns in just the first half of the game.
Head coach Ted Czepiga is pleased with his running back’s season thus far.
“Colin is a tremendous football player,” Czepiga said. “Pretty much every game we go out there he’s one of the best players on the field.”
The Spartans continued to move the ball successfully and efficiently throughout the first quarter while the Dragons struggled to find an offensive rhythm. The only first-half touchdown for Hamden was a 6-yard run scored by senior captain and wide receiver Angelo DiMonaco.
Amity opened up the second quarter just as quickly as the first. Senior quarterback Michael DeVito connected with senior receiver Christopher Daddio for a 16-yard touchdown, putting the Spartans up 21-0.
“Electric” was how DeVito described the feeling of being on the field tonight.
“All of the other games we kind of came out flat, but right away Coach Czepiga really got us excited for the game,” DeVito said. “I think that was the main difference between all of the other games. We all knew that we came to play tonight.”
One minute into the third quarter, Hamden showed signs of life, cutting the deficit to 35-14. But the celebrations on the Hamden sideline didn’t last long as Amity answered right back when Beaulieu scored his fourth touchdown of the night to extend their lead to 42-14.
Even with the impressive night, Beaulieu remains humble about his success.
“It starts with my line, first of all. My line and my quarterback,” Beaulieu said. “Coach has been calling the right plays and we’ve been making plays.”
DeVito got on the score sheet himself, running in a touchdown with under five minutes left to play in the third quarter to put up the Spartans 49-14.
Hamden got on the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter, but it was too late to overcome Amity’s explosive offense.
Going forward, Czepiga hopes to see this success carry through the rest of the season.
“We’ve come a long way from Sept. 11, our first game,” Czepiga said. “The sky is the limit for some of these players.”
Czepiga emphasizes the importance of starting the next week fresh, not allowing any time to dwell on previous games, no matter the outcome. This message resonates strongly with DeVito and the rest of his team.
“Every week, whether we win or lose, as soon as we’re done with film Saturday morning, we’re 0-0,” DeVito said. “It’s a new week.”
By Laynie Barrantine
NORTH HAVEN -- The North Haven High School girls soccer team takes the term teamwork to new heights and, after dealing with multiple losses throughout the season, the team has found that no loss can tear them apart.
Despite a 1-11-1 record before the start of tonight’s Senior Game, the Indians defeated Wilbur Cross/Hillhouse/Career, 3-1.
North Haven senior co-captains Christina Holle and Morgan Heyl believe the team won because it was Senior Night. Their coach, Brittany Collard, agreed.
“The general consensus was really embraced around the seniors,” Collard said. “The girls just really putting their hearts out on the line for the seniors really is what made the difference in this game compared to other games this year.”
The Indians have a young team this season made up of mostly freshmen. Last year, the team lost 12 seniors, about 80 percent of its starting lineup.
Both Holle and Heyl believe it took time for the freshmen to get used to playing against older girls on a varsity level—something they did not see as much of last year.
But despite having a better record last season, the Indians believe they are a better overall team this season.
“Although last year we had a better record, I think this year overall we have played generally better than last year,” Collard said. “I think that it was just an overall team effort every single game. And then they come in the next day, we lose, they are acting like they’re 10 and zero.”
“We’re hard workers and we’re always thinking ahead,” she said. “We never dwell on the faults, which is awesome.”
“Many coaches have come up to our coach this year and have asked if our team has had any issues because of the season were having,” Holle said. “She proudly says no because no matter how bad the loss is, we always are willing to go into practice the next day and work even harder than the day before.”
Early in the first half, it was evident the Indians did not dwell on the faults. The Indians’ offense maintained control of the ball and took numerous shots. North Haven’s penchant for teamwork was shown with lots of passing and watching for other players.
Its defense did its part, as well. Senior goalkeeper Angela Sanzari made multiple saves throughout the half.
Toward the end of the first half, the Indians had an opportunity to score and they took it.
Junior Kayla Rodriguez scored the first goal of the game. However, North Haven did not have much time to celebrate as Wilbur Cross/Hillhouse/Career scored on a penalty shot.
Continuing to not dwell on its faults, North Haven received another opportunity to score. Heyl kicked the ball right past Wilbur Cross/Hillhouse/Career goalkeeper’s hands, making the score 2-1.
Toward the end of the game, Rodriguez took four shots, but was blocked each time. Junior Natalie Acquarulo scored in the last minutes to make the score 3-1.
Holle said, “Morgan and I are very proud of the girls for not giving up hope, or getting down on each other. Everything we go through, we do it as a team and that's the most important part.”
Students in Quinnipiac University's JRN361: Sports Reporting course cover local high school sports competitions. Their work is showcased here.
Banner photo courtesy
Dana Jensen/The Day (2003)