GFA fall sports preview: Boys soccer eyes FAA championship
The GFA boys soccer team was a finalist in the Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA) tournament a year ago, and the 2014 team wants to repeat and surpass that accomplishment. With a short list of returning starters, this year's group of underclassmen will be learning what it takes to win from the players who have experienced success at that level, said head coach Christopher Mira.
The Dragons return five starters: senior captain Griffin Garner (Greens Farms), senior Dugald Shannon (Redding), senior Henry Soule (Darien), junior Ben Strait (Stamford) and junior Charlie Mounts (Westport). All five were part of an exciting, attack-minded offense that produced high-scoring games in 2013.
Also expected to make an impact this season are juniors Stephen Gallagher (Fairfield), Bryan Matte (Stratford) and Matt Allen (Norwalk), sophomore Michael Medvedev (Stamford) and freshman Henry Holzinger (Norwalk).
GFA opens its season Sept. 10 vs. Cheshire Academy.
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The Dragons will start the season with a balanced combination of veteran players and players new to the varsity level. It will look to leadership from senior captains Claire Comey (Westport) and Hayes Marcus (Fairfield).
Last season was a successful one for GFA as the Dragons earned another bid in the New England tournament. This season GFA will be relying on returning players: seniors Comey (setting), Marcus (back row), junior hitters Allie Carey (Ridgefield) and Nina Rodgers (Fairfield), libero Rory Shinnick (Darien) and sophomore back row Megan Sinnott (Fairfield).
According to head coach Paul Groves, the Dragons have proven this pre-season to be a team that is willing to work hard to improve its skill level every day.
"Our returning players are committed to being leaders and positive role models," Groves said. "I also feel a good chemistry amongst the teammates that has created an atmosphere that is progressive, supportive and contagious. In looking ahead to the season, I feel we have great potential, quick learners and committed players."
Groves said that on offense, everything will be going through Comey's hands. She is a three-year all-FAA setter.
The Dragons are hoping to put themselves in a great position in the FAA and earn another bid to the New England tournament. Their first game will be at home against perennial contender Convent of the Sacred Heart Sept. 11.
GFA will be under the guidance of a new coaching staff this fall, as head coach Paul Hennessey will look to help the Dragons reach the FAA and New England tournaments. Leading the defense will be juniors Erin Reilly (Fairfield), Ingrid Backe (Fairfield) and goalkeeper Lexi Kimball (Fairfield), with senior Daly Naughton (Westport) and freshman Sophia Poli (Fairfield) adding support.
Among those vying for spots in the midfield are seniors Campbell Goldsmith (Darien), Elettra Baldi (Stamford), junior Ellie Wong (Darien), freshman Alexis Messina (Greenwich) and sophomores Michaela Cohen (Westport), Barbara Duncan (Stamford) and Blair Marine (Darien). Freshman Bella Litt (Darien), sophomore Lily Goldsmith (Darien) and senior Olivia Lennon (Southport) will lead the line up front.
After a busy pre-season program, GFA opens up its season at The Harvey School Sept. 10.
Girls cross country
After a middle of the pack finish in the FAA in 2013, the Dragons are hopeful they will be able to climb the ladder this fall. GFA returns its top three runners: senior Crosbie Marine (Darien) and juniors Maggie Boudreau (Wilton) and Carmen Martin (Easton). They will be joined by freshman Audrey Brennan (Weston) and eighth grader Madi McCreesh (Southport) to make a strong five.
"The main challenge we foresee having to face is keeping everyone healthy for the duration of our season," head coach Molly Noyed said. "If the aforementioned five girls are running strong in November, the GFA women's cross country team will make some serious noise for the league championship."
GFA opens its season Sept. 13 at the Wilton Invitational.
Boys cross country
With 10 of its top 13 runners returning, GFA has high hopes it can return to the top of the FAA standings. With only two of those runners being seniors, the long-term future also looks bright, according to head coach Glen Colello.
Seniors Danny Ross (Darien) and Adam Petno (New Canaan) have set a goal to be All-New England runners and are looking to pave the way for a young GFA team to have a stellar season. Junior Alex McCall (Westport) -- the only returning runner to break 18 minutes in the 2013 season -- is back in the best shape of his career. Scott Barnet (Greenwich), Sam Orzem (Westport) and transfer Christopher Jessup (Darien) -- all sophomores -- will pressure the upperclassmen for the top spots. Freshmen Tyler Beider (Southport) and Charlie Courtemanche (Norwalk) have put up very impressive times in pre-season as well, according to Colello.
GFA opens its season Sept. 13 at the Wilton Invitational.
Girls field hockey
After a very successful performance last year, GFA is looking forward to the 2014 season. Having graduating six seniors, the team is looking to re-build.
"Overall, the team is young, but they are eager to learn and enthusiastic about the game," head coach Sarah Ostermueller said.
Four seniors will lead the squad this year: forward Nicole Litt (Darien), defenders Juliet Fontana (Southport) and Lily McGonagle (Southport) and goalie Jenny Ross (Fairfield). Juniors Cecily Hutchison (Westport) and newcomer Agnes Bebon (Easton) will round out the team's defense while Olivia Reynolds (Rowayton) will take the reigns as the team's center midfielder. Sophomores Caroline Eckert (Wilton) and Chloe Messina (Greenwich) will boost the offense while Claire Jansen (Wilton), who Ostermueller described as having "amazing versatility" will start in offense or midfield as needed.
Freshmen Mia Krishnamurthy (Westport), Devon Wolfe (Darien) and eighth grader Lucy Holzinger (Norwalk) will alternate through the midfield and forward line providing skills, speed and creativity. Freshmen Wilson Hafner (Southport), Gracyn Sollmann (Wilton) and Kyra Inston (Norwalk) will also provide support for the team throughout the season.