Weston sports spring preview roundup
First year Weston girls tennis coach Victor Terranova has a lot to live up to. In the last four seasons his predecessor, Mary Ann Vorvis, led the Lady Trojans to four state championships and a staggering eighty-seven game winning streak.
"The pressure is certainly there," said Terranova, who for six years was an assistant coach under Weston boys head coach Gary Meuiner. "But I'm very confident in myself and the girls. We really have some massive talents."
They certainly do. Last year senior captains Emma Samson and Aly Ashmore were two of the most feared doubles players in Connecticut and while Samson's partner, Marie Gargiulo, has graduated Ashmore's partner, senior Caroline Toutoungi, is back. Also returning is the SWC's reigning second singles champion, senior Zoe Valella, and All-SWC selection junior Morgan Murray.
It almost seems excessive to mention Terranova's most exciting player: Kimmy Guerin, a sophomore and defending State Open singles champion.
However, his opening match was less than auspicious, a 4-3 loss at Glastonbury and the team's current 1-1 record is a reminder that the streak is over.
Terranova's former mentor was quick to jump to his defense.
"It doesn't mean much," said Meuiner, whose 2-1 squad also lost 3-4 to Glastonbury. "Their schedule has some tough matches but I'm sure they'll dominate the teams they usually do."
Meuiner should know. From 2003 to 2009 his boys won seven consecutive SWC championships (the first one under Coach Rob Parker and the second with Coach Dave Meyer) and they would have added an eighth had they not fallen to Newtown in last year's finals.
"We're a younger team this year but we're very good," said Meuiner. "I think I'll be rotating players and experimenting for awhile. The competition for spots has been intense."
Meuiner stressed that although sophomore David Freeman is the current first singles, depending on the match-up it could easily be second singles junior Cameron Hagan or third singles freshman Oscar Morris. Fourth singles is probably sophomore Josh Weiss but it might be senior Nick Richter. Or even junior Benjamin Smith. Confusing -- but at least he know who his stars are, right?
"Not really. Almost all spots are capable of being challenged," said Meuiner. "And doubles is even less certain. I have six quality doubles team and not much of an order."
Nigro hopes to emulate last year's 16-0 season and improve on the Trojans' third-place finish at the SWC and Division III championship. He seeks to recover from the loss of recent graduate Jeff Evanier, now playing for Eckerd. Although senior captain Joe D'Amato, who will soon join his brother Bernie playing for Princeton, will likely be the most consistent medalist, a clear number two has yet to emerge.
"Joe always makes a big contribution but we might end up relying a lot on depth, which we have. Some of our sophomores can really play," said Nigro.
Among them are Maximillian Catucci, Jared Kapel and Nigel Poppy. Weston opened its season last Wednesday against Pomperaug with Catucci contributing a 43, Kapel a 45 and Nigel 46. D'Amato added a 38 and the result was a 172-176 win, all despite less than ideal course conditions.
New Lady Trojans girls lacrosse coach Megan Murphy takes over from Erin Wilson. While Nigro faces high expectations, Murphy hopes to guide an ever improving team to its second straight playoff appearance.
"These girls are very athletic," said Murphy, who is off to a 1-1 start. "It's going to show in how we play, lots of fast breaks and intense defense."
Weston hopes it will be enough to make up for the loss of former standouts Sam Seath, Sam Druks and current University of Pennsylvania attackman Brittany Swanson. The new stars will be the captains: Hannah Hutchins, attack; and Cara Fleming and Alex Fumai, midfielder.
These new coaches hope to emulate John Mathews. Two seasons ago he was the assistant coach who led Fairfield Prep to three consecutive state championships and last season, his first as Weston's head coach, he delivered what he does best: another championship. He now looks to repeat.
"It's going to be tough but we're up for it," said Mathews, currently 2-0. "We'll practice hard and prove we can still play in the sandbox."
Hurting the Trojans are their smaller than average size, a roster of 37, and the loss of several stars who went on to play in college: Will Miller, defense, Adelphi; Robbie Cordisco, attack, Bryant; Morgan Faller, attack, Marist.
Mathews expects juniors Jack Scheufele and Lyle Mitchell to run the offense and senior captain Eddie Hutchins and junior Matt Brooks to led the middies. Though senior captain Kip McMahon will likely make his usual devastating contribution at long pole middie, Mathews worries Alex Peyreigne may bare the brunt of opponents' attacks.
"He's going to carry our of defense," he said of the nationally ranked goalie.
Boys track coach Lloyd Weinstein, whose squad went 12-1 last season, is also worried about being unbalanced.
"We can do distance and relays, but we're weak in sprints and anything with jumping or throwing," said the fourth year coach.
Even in Weinstein's best events he might have difficulties overcoming some losses. Although senior captains Paul Philpott and Steve Vento were All-SWC selections, the legendary trio of James Bloom, Ryan Gilmore and Steve Piscatelli, 4x800 state champions, is gone.
"You only come across talent like that a couple times in your career," said Weinstein, whose opening meet is today against Newtown, Bethel and Masuk. "We'll recover and still be competitive, just not the state power we were."
Girls track coach Matt Medve is more confident.
"We're talented all around, especially in field events and the 800 on down," said Medve, who also opens today against Newtown, Bethel and Masuk.
The departure of hurdler Kathryn Bacher and pole vaulter Emily Ando has left the potential for big holes, but Medve believes he already has consistent scorers: Kara Bucaro in the 800, Kiki Litvak in the pole vault and Callie Arlo in the 400. Ellie Martin, sprint and javelin, and Sarah Dietzman, high jump and pole vault, also have potential to put up significant points.
"We can definitely win the conference," said Bucaro. "Brittany Mendelson (Pomperaug) is the defending champion in the 800 and I want to challenge her."
David Lustberg's softball team is in flux. Of all the starters on last season's 11-10 squad, only four return, and only one, captain and perennial outfielder Sammy Fino, is certain remain in the same position.
"We're a young team, which means we're going to rely on a lot of girls who've never been on varsity," said Lustberg, currently 1-1. "That's not necessarily bad. It means we might have big potential. Right now we're focusing on the basics, lots and lots of hitting."
The status of the 2-1 baseball team is no more certain.
"We graduated seven seniors, six of whom were starters," said six year coach Frank Fedeli. "We might be rebuilding or we might be reloading. It's a short season, only seven weeks, so it all depends on who steps up and when."
The captains are seniors J.J. Lane and Don Santacatarina, and the top hitter is sophomore Charlie Ameer. Lane, an excellent batter in his own right and potential top pitcher, will see competition from curveball specialist Drew Clevenger and off-speed lefty Max Molinsky.
"It's going to be done by committee," said Fedeli about the rotation. "There could be a set starter or three guys pitching three innings."
"It's a great squad of girls," said Akacki, currently 1-0. "They're a young team and want to have fun but also to win. Thirteen is a great turnout but 15 would be perfect."
Akacki's squad has a history of excellence, four SWC titles from 2006-2009 under then-coach Mike Ahlers,, but last year went 8-8 without qualifying for the state tournament.
"It's hard to tell how the season will turn out," said Katz, who was the medalist in the opening match against Fairfield-Ludlowe. "We have potential and want to win, but sports can be frustrating. At the end of the day we just need to support each other, have fun and win where we can."
That sounds like a history of Weston sports, fun and winning.