SPORTS PREVIEW

Darien High School Fall 2011

Rushing ace Peter Gesualdi returns to lead the defending league champs.

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THE DARIEN TIMES, THURSDAY, SEPT. 15, 2011

NEW SCHOOL IN POOL — Olivia Leunis is one of many DHS underclassmen coming to the fore this season. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

Captains Kirby, Liu take large crew of youngsters in tow
By Steven Buono Times Sports Editor Youth and more youth, buoys DHS in the pool. “I have 10 freshmen on the team and 13 sophomores,” said longtime Darien High girls swim-dive team coach Marj Trifone. “So that’s 24 of 37 including the divers.” Darien has six juniors and is led by eight seniors. “I took a lot in the freshman class last year because I graduated that really big group of 15 seniors that were state champions (in 2009),” Trifone said. “And this year I was able to take quite a few and there are a lot of talented kids.
Fall 2011 Preview: Girls Swim-Dive

“So I think we’re very deep. I don’t think we have a ton of front runners, real superstars.” Can Darien compete for first? “It is going to depend upon the younger ones and how they get taken along by the upperclassmen,” Trifone said. “I mean, they have potential. And I’m hoping to be a better, stronger team than last year.” Darien lost two very strong swimmers in Class of 2011’s Lindsay Tyler and Catherine Treesh. “Big losses for us,” said Trifone. “And (Class of ’11 diver) Lexi Ashcraft.” Treesh is swimming at Williams,

Tyler at Dartmouth, Ashcraft diving for UPenn. They can not be replaced 1-to-1. But that overall pool depth could count for much. “So I’m optimistic,” Trifone added. Darien has a tremendous new diver in ninth grader Lizzie Fitzpatrick and lots to be glad about in returning diver Caroline Ashcraft, a junior. Fitzpatrick is injured and not expected to begin the season, Trifone said. The Shannon Egan-coached divers include Olivia Piazza and freshman Kyle Pech. Captains are Cammie Kirby and Rebecca Liu. “Coming back as seniors, I would say we are looking forward to a good

year with probably Carly Berizzi, Caroline Kearney, Cammie of course has gotten a lot stronger in the breast,” Trifone said. “Rebecca Liu, Chapin Tricarico in the breaststroke — I have a lot of breaststrokers, I’m strong in the breaststroke.” Olivia Leunis returns to bolster the event. “Caroline Orem, in IM and backstroke, and Olivia Leunis are both strong for the junior class,” Trifone said. “And Claire Treesh, I have her back in the backstroke.” Sophomore Amanda Bieler is expected to be the top sprinter. Freshmen looking to make an immediate splash? “I’m impressed with Emily Nixon, she looks good,” Trifone said of the

New Canaan Y winter standout. “She is pretty much going to be sprint freestyle.” Sophomore Megan Slaughter, in from New Canaan Country Day, appears to be strong in the breaststroke as well. Seasoned senior Katie Southworth is in at sprint freestyle. “It’s going to be interesting I think, to see where they’re all going to come together,” said Trifone. “I think that there’s a lot of talent. But, it so hasn’t been tapped into yet.” Cue the coaches. Ready, set and mark for the kids. Darien was 7-3 in 2010. “I think we have a shot (at states),” Trifone added. “I think we are going to be in the ballpark at least.”

SENIORS ARE EIGHT — Darien still has a hefty senior presence in co-captain Rebecca Liu (left) and Chapin Tricarico (right), both strong in the breaststroke. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photos)

A quantity of quality: Dozen strong-led Wave will chase Wilton for the FCIAC gold
By Steven Buono Times Sports Editor A quantity of quality is what makes Wave girls cross country a contender. “Our major strength is being able to field a dozen quality runners who have averaged over five seasons of distance running,” coach Steve Norris said. “They have run the fast times and most
Fall 2011 Preview: Girls XC

have experienced being on at least one state championship running team at some point in their career.” And coming off of a 16-1 season in 2010, coming in second in the FCIAC to Wilton, finishing third in Class L, the Wave is no stranger to quality. Darien is led by senior captains Livy Ashburne, Emma Davis, Sherry Gilronan,

Meredith Ott. Gone, are Class of 2010 all stars Megan Keane and Amanda Dobler. Key runners include seniors Katie Donovan — in her first season of cross country after playing soccer previously, she a 5:31 miler — Ott, a second season 12:17 two-miler, McKinley Stauffer, also a second season 12:41 two-miler, Davis in her second season and a 5:57 miler, Catie Bartone,

second season and FCIAC championships 1000m qualifier, and addition, Alex Pear, in her first season in the sport after transferring from soccer. She is a 2:29 800m runner. Juniors: Grace Loh, third season, a 5:17 miler, Sarah Colon, third season, 12:05 two-miler, Katie Farren, third season, 12:18 two-miler, Ellen Bauer, third season, 12:25 two-miler, Caroline Weihs, first season coming over from

soccer, a 2:22 800m runner, Jenny Bealle, a second season, 2:33 800m runner. “They have done extensive summer running,” said Norris. “Fifteen girls have done summer running camps. There will be competition for the varsity positions.” League dual meets will see a few teams such as Staples, Westhill, Warde, Greenwich which have the potential to take two of the top three plac-

es against the Wave, Norris says. “However, we should ultimately prevail with our depth,” he added. “Our final dual meet against Wilton, this meet may set up as a test of undefeated teams.” Darien will battle Daniel Hand of Madison, Pomperaug of Southbury and Wilton at states, after a series of county showdowns with the Warriors it seems.

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THE DARIEN TIMES, THURSDAY, SEPT. 15, 2011

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CATCHING FISH — Seasoned Wave goalie Jack Fisher returns in net for the new look boys soccer squad. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

‘For the rest of their lives’: New coach Bradley has the reins
By Steven Buono Times Sports Editor Jon Bradley is taking it the usual one-game-at-a-time as he switches from coaching the Wave girls to the boys soccer team at DHS. Only, he’s setting his sights on the eternal at the same time. “The future looks bright,” Bradley said. “And my aim for this year is to make sure every young man involved in DHS soccer has a positive experience, and gains some lessons, that can be carried with them for the rest of their lives.” After five winning seasons with the girls Bradley takes over for Nicolae Piperea who left due to a conflict with his business duties.
Fall 2011 Preview: Boys Soccer

Under Piperea, Darien had its best showing in decades, nearly knocking off one of the strongest always in the state in Staples in the FCIAC playoffs a few years back. But for the most part, for more than 10 years, Darien has been fighting uphill. “I’m not one, for an easy life,” Bradley said when he took the job over the summer. “For an easy life, I would have stayed with the girls. “It’s nothing other than me wanting to take on a new challenge.” Darien girls was an ever contender under Darien Soccer Association head Bradley. “I feel the DSA gives the program, both programs, a lot of support,” said

Bradley. “And, I’ve listened to a lot of negativity and pessimism about the boys program over the years. And, I really, just wanted to take the challenge of bringing them back to a level of respectability. “That’s it — it’s a personal thing.” Bradley inherits Wave boys captains in Lewis Clarke, Eric Kanigan, Matt Collier and Elliott Helgans. “We have a lot of learning to do but have a hungry and eager group of players who are ready and willing to learn,” Bradley said. “This is a very competitive league and I predict that Trumbull, Staples, Greenwich, Warde, Ridgefield will all be in the top five.” Darien is coming off of a season of several wins.

“We will be looking for Brennan Branca (center mid), Ben Highton at forward, Jonathan Gill (forward), Spencer McMullin (mid) and our four captains,” said Bradley of his core. Goalies are Jack Fisher and Aidan Rischmann. The cleats shall speak. “The outlook for our season is to let our play on the field do the talking,” said Bradley. “To make no excuses, be positive and gain a wonderful experience of high school soccer. “There is going to be a different work ethic, a different mentality. “You’ve got to change a whole mindset of the kids this year.” They could make states, it is not an out-of-it roster.

“Maybe we do, maybe we don’t,” said Bradley, a 2006 FCIAC Coach of the Year. “We have to start with a target.” Darien will start happily by getting a few wins in the can. “You’re many years away from being top of the league,” Bradley said. “But, you don’t want to be winning two games a year.” Wave field hockey used to do that a decade ago, and look what happened there. “I think there is a lot of potential there, they are definitely a hard working bunch of players,” Bradley added. “And we are going to be fitter than ever before and more organized than ever before. And hopefully that can translate to success on the field.”

YESTERDAY AND TODAY — Darien five-season girls soccer coach Jon Bradley egging on the Wave at halftime of the 2007 FCIAC finals, bringing DHS to the big dance in a hurry. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

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THE DARIEN TIMES, THURSDAY, SEPT. 15, 2011

In ladies volleyball, redemption’s on the bill
By David DesRoches Times Reporter The Darien girls volleyball team seeks redemption this year after going undefeated the entire last season but losing their only game in the final state match against East Lyme.
Fall 2011 Preview: Girls Volleyball

It was the kind of result that tipped the volleyball world on its axis in the CIAC, when the Vikings stopped a crushing Blue Wave attack that appeared unstoppable throughout the year, and kept the girls from winning their 10th straight title at states. “Our goals are definitely to win the states,” said senior co-captain Amanda Sommi, who returns this year to play libero, replacing Bella Carrara who graduated last year. “(We’ve just got to) push ourselves and make our team play as best we can to get there. “We have a lot of girls coming back who were on the court last year and we work really well together as a unit. I think that’s really going to pay off.” The Blue Wave will not have a chance at redemption against East Lyme, because Darien moved to Class LL this year. Being in a tougher division is merely more motivation for the team, said senior co-captain Katie Stueber. “Coming off a rough ending to the season last year, I think that we’ll use that as motivation for practice each day,” Stueber said. Six-foot Stueber returns to the middle blocker position this year after leading the team with 40 blocks last season, and finishing 22nd in the state. But the girls don’t like to brag about individual statistics. To them, it’s a team effort, all the way, every year. “We are a great unit and we work together as one,” said senior co-captain Charlett Stevenson. “It’s more important to not just have a few good people on the team, but to really have a good team in general. “I think that’s really what we’re striving to do, is all be equal.” Sommi echoed her teammate. “Especially with volleyball, compared to other sports, you can’t just have one person who dominates the game,” Sommi said. “You really need

TRIPLE-HITS — Darien girls volleyball co-captains (from left) Amanda Sommi, Katie Stueber and Charlett Stevenson will lead the Blue Wave attack, as the girls try for their 11th straight FCIAC title and 10th state title in 11 years. (Darien Times/David DesRoches photo)
six people on the court who can play, and I think that’s one of the things that’s going to help us this season, is that we have a lot of people who are in a position where they can step up and make an impact.” Stevenson led the team in receiving serves successfully last year, and was second on the team in attack kills, nailing 162 of them as outside hitter. She returns to that position this year with guns blazing. Three new seniors are hitting the court alongside their captain upperclassmen — setter Nina Preston, opposite hitter Julie Flynn and libero Lexy Ashburne. The team’s practices continue to challenge the girls to reach their best, and the annual Playdays scrimmage helps the team gauge the season, the girls said. “We know that we push ourselves a lot harder than some teams do,” Sommi said. “So, we know that we’re in really good shape physically and mentally.” Also returning after playing stellar seasons last year as sophomores are opposite hitter and setter Riley Sousa, who had 42 digs and 92 assists last year; outside and middle hitter Kelly Kosnik, who nailed 101 kills in 2010; and outside hitter Brittany Osborn. “We have a lot of returning seniors as well as juniors so we’ll have a lot of options in terms of who we can put on the court, so that will be nice to have,” Sommi said. New juniors to the team are outside and opposite hitter Lauren Pryor, opposite hitter and defensive specialist Callan Clasby, and middle and opposite hitter Taylor Cockerill. The captains said many freshmen look impressive on the junior varsity squad also. Because many volleyball players don’t start the sport until freshman year, the captains said it’s important for the leaders to step up and show them the way. “It’s really important to have the family-type atmosphere because it pushes you every day and it makes you feel welcomed,” Stevenson said, adding that it’s important for them all “to be the best you can be, on and off the court.” As libero, Sommi said it’s crucial for her to keep pushing her defense and making sure she never lets the ball hit the floor. “Defense and passing, that’s my big responsibility,” she said. Stevenson said she wants to improve all aspects of her game, particularly her serve and staying in a positive mindset. “I go all the way around,” she said, referring to playing offense and defense. “I really need to have an equal skill level in all aspects.” As the force in the middle, Stueber said she wants to do her job at the net. “I definitely want to control the things I can control, such as aggressive serving and keeping the ball in play whenever I can,” Stueber added. “And going for every ball.” The girls played their season opener against Stamford on Wednesday, after press time. They face Fairfield Ludlowe away on Friday, Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m.

MEAN STREETS — DHS 2011 boys cross country captains (left to right) Michael Johnston, Michael Coe, Charlie Baird and Eli Converse.

‘We mean business’: Wave boys road crew remains up to the task
By Steven Buono Times Sports Editor While DHS boys cross country will be missing stars from last season — all three captains in John Conley, Matt Gentile and David Watson — the Wave is still, according to nine-year coach Tyson Kaczmarek, “up to the task.” “Four captains — Michael Coe, Michael Johnston, Charlie Baird and Eli Converse — pave the way for this year’s edition of the team,” Kaczmarek said. “All four figure to mix into the varsity level.” Darien’s finished 16-1 for four straight years.
Fall 2011 Preview: Boys Soccer

Only top team Danbury’s beaten them each time. Darien’s also been FCIAC runner-up each of those years. The Wave’s finished second at states the past four seasons except for winning Class MM in 2009. “Baird and Johnston bring valuable experience from that team to this year’s squad,” Kaczmarek added. “We will be in the thick of things in the FCIAC. Staples and Danbury will be very good. You can’t count out Wilton, Warde or Ridgefield either.” “This upcoming season looks extremely promising,”

said Coe. “I’m probably more excited for it than any previous season. Our team looks strong, we’ve been training hard, and we mean business.” Kaczmarek is 120-15 alltime as coach. Darien was first in the FCIAC East in 2010, second at the title meet, second in Class L, 11th at the state open. Top returning runners include Baird, who Kaczmarek says had “a sensational sophomore season (which) has set Baird up for a fabulous cross country season (now).” In Johnston, the coach says DHS has “one of the most improved runners on the team, an experienced runner who

will produce big results.” Coe? “He stepped up to the plate during outdoor track,” Kaczmarek said. “He is ready for a breakout season.” Converse will provide added depth. Marshall Huffman, a sophomore, returns as a 4:55 miler, sophomore Brian Davey plagued by injury last year is back on track to run well as a 4:54 miler. Sophomore Peter Kreuch, after a full year of running as a freshman, is ready to see huge improvements Kaczmarek says, while junior Andrew Xiong also adds depth. Top Newcomers: seniors

Will DeRocco, Michael Palmer, Billy Siemers, John Thacker, juniors Sean Lee, Burton Palmer, Dennis Xiong, sophomores Colten Appleby, Matt Coe, Kyle Cornell, James Farrington, Brad McCarthy, Ben Olsen, Remi Parsons, Jack Sparkman, freshmen Arthur Cassidy, Aidan Loh, Alex Ostberg. Joining the Wave coaching staff this year are two former DHS track and XC athletes. “Kevin Knapp (DHS ’09) will bring his expertise to the squad,” Kaczmarek said. “Knapp currently holds two DHS school records — the distance medley relay outdoors and the sprint medley at

Wilton indoors.” He is a former school record holder in the 4x200, 4x225, 4x240 and 400 indoors and the 4x100 outdoors. Joining as well as a volunteer assistant is Pat Jackson (DHS ’78). “Jackson, one of Darien’s best distance runners alltime still holds four school records over 30 years later,” Kaczmarek said. “Indoors, Jackson has the mile record with a time of 4:28.11 as well as the unofficial 4x400 record.” Jackson’s 4x400 was state open champion indoors in ’78. Outdoors, Jackson has the record in the mile (4:19.7) and 4 x 800 (8:02).

THE DARIEN TIMES, THURSDAY, SEPT. 15, 2011

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A depleted Wave still packs a crunching punch
By Steven Buono Times Sports Editor Out of control tides, rising waters, ocean storms and tropical monsoon — anything wet — it’s got to be the last thing anyone should want to think about, for everyone recently left reeling in Irene’s havoc-strewn wake.
Fall 2011 Preview: Football

Then there’s, the human Blue Wave, putting plenty of wide smiles back on faces with a fresh season of football on the cusp. With opening day Saturday, it is still just about half of a hazy crystal ball football future of Wave 2011 that is coming into view. Because, battle conditions alone, will tell all for the defending league champs, who return four starters, not including QB Chris Allam, or, its much lauded offensive line. “It’s hard to tell, until you get into the line of fire,” said Wave 2010 FCIAC Coach of the Year Rob Trifone, of what his overwhelmingly new crew might be capable of. “But let me preface it by saying this: this team reminds me very much of the 2009 team that followed our 2008, 11-2 season, the Matt Wheelock group.” Darien was edged by NC for the FCIAC title on Thanksgiving Day in Stamford that year. “And then you come back (in 2009) with very few starters, varsity experience, and it’s almost identical,” said Trifone. “I want to say four guys with any experience, just like ’09. And, if you look back at that season we stubbed our toe in the opener (at) Warde, because, we didn’t have kids with game experience. And then after that (we) proceeded to go 7-2.” Darien only lost to a strong St. Joe’s, righting the ship and making a run, while prepping its 2010 league zenith. The Wave fell hard in Class L semis to Masuk after topping Trumbull for the league title last fall. Within all of that high stakes action, one of the lower stakes gambits, yet one that drove a stake through the heart of Darien two seasons back, remains with the club — it’s that loss to Warde in Fairfield in the opening game that year. “So I’ve put that challenge in front of these kids too,” Trifone said. “Because, we do have talent, it’s just untested talent. And how fast they grow up, and learn how to play in a varsity FCIAC game, will dictate a lot of things.” Last mostly golden season, DHS dictated terms on the roving white strip where perpetual moments of truth are fought for, discovered and found. This year, the offensive line reloads. Graduated are Charlie Kunze, Zack Sherwood, Tucker Morehouse, Jake Weil, James Shanley, Jack Newton at center. “You return one-plus starters (on the line), and I say that because you return one of your tackles, Brett O’Donnell,” Trifone said. “And you return Matt D’Andrea, who played 50 percent of the time.” O’Donnell, Mike Stovall, Patrick McDonald, Corey Eppley are the captains. Size? “I think we fill in with normal Darien size,” Trifone said. “Not big, not small — but kids that have worked very well in the weight room.” Stephen Wildish, 6-2, 200 pounds, slots in at center. “Not the biggest kid in America, but he’s a strong kid, he works very hard in the weight room,” Trifone said. “And at one of the tackles, where we had Mason Barron, you’ve got a kid — Max Gunn — and Max has pretty good size (at) 6-2, 240.” Justin Coley’s vacated position at guard goes to two, senior Nick Connery (5-11, 210) and Andrew Maley (junior, 5-11, 190). “It is what it is,” said Trifone, whose teams live and thrive on defense. “We know every year, we are going to graduate people.” Darien went 11-2 last season, 8-1 in the league, losing to rival New Canaan 42-14 in the Turkey Bowl at home, depleted by suspensions due to the graffiti incident at NCHS on the eve of the game, and chewed up by injury. “You’ve got to hope that our subvarsity programs are quality enough, that those kids develop,” said the coach, with the freshman team of two seasons ago having gone undefeated. “Now you’ve got to put them in a situation where it’s a varsity game on the line.” And there’s that recently passed over ghost of the gridiron, materializing again. A varsity game on the line... “Just like Fairfield Warde two years ago,” said Trifone. “And then you’ve got to perform.” Darien’s overriding theme a year ago? To remember losing to Fairfield Ward in 2009, the point made sharp-

NO SWEAT BRETT — Brett O’Donnell (No. 61), now a captain, in the FCIAC title fray at Trumbull in 2010. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)
er with the Wave hosting the same Mustangs to open 2010. Darien blanked the memory, winning 31-0. “It’s still a very good lesson for this program,” Trifone said. And for a third year straight, it’s a lesson you can not forget. Darien opens at home vs. Fairfield, although, this time it’s Ludlowe, 1:30 p.m. Sept. 17 — followed by game two at none other than the Mustangs’ ranch, 7 p.m. Sept. 23, autumn, day one. With the storm, Darien still started practice as planned, losing two double sessions over the wild weekend. “But so have other programs (missed practices),” Trifone said. “Everyone is a little bit behind.” Behind the line of scrimmage, it’s junior Henry Baldwin at QB. He spotted in last year, totaling 177 yards passing, averaging 29.5 per game, tossing a TD. “He played a decent amount of quarterback last year,” said Trifone. “Henry came in and got varsity snaps. But he too, has to step up to the varsity plate. “It’s different being the back-up who can come in and shine for a little bit as opposed to the kid who gets all the reps during the week, and now, has to shine from the opening whistle.” Baldwin glows with an inner flame. “Henry is actually a funny kid to read, because, if you were to meet him, you would kind of get the Clark Kent image,” said Trifone. “Kind of very mild mannered, you know, very nice kid. “And then, there’s a fire in his belly when he plays the game, that is not out of character, but, you just don’t see it. There’s a quiet intensity.” But with no cape on his back or ‘S’ across his chest, he’ll need focused support to grow into the big role. “He’s a tough competitor, he’s eager, a nice sized kid, 6-2, 190,” said Trifone. “Where Chris Allam was a gunslinger, and there were positives about that, Henry is definitely a little bit more reserved with his ball-control. And I think that’s a positive. “He makes up for a lot with his intelligence, he knows the game.” Not the flamboyant flavor of Allam, but the arm is there according to the coach. Baldwin will be looking for Clay Barker, the Wave’s 6-3 returning receiver, who seems to play at more like 6-6 at times — and who struck hard and like low thunder in the FCIAC title game. But don’t look for Barker too soon, he injured his knee in lacrosse last season and is expected to miss the start. “Actually, we have an interesting core of receivers,” said Trifone. “We’re taking Patrick McDonald, who is a quarterback, and a very capable quarterback, and because of our lack of experienced depth — we have no lack of depth, we have 78 kids in the program — Patrick was too valuable to rotate him with Henry Baldwin. So, I moved him to wideout. “And Patrick is very fast, a very capable receiver.” Ryan Barthold, 6-3, 180, a senior, and Harlan Smith, 6-3, 175 are each on the catching end as well. Darien has receiving heft in Matt Forelli — 6-3, 220 pounds. “He’s got the body of a Division I tight end, not a wide receiver,” said Trifone. “We don’t actually use him at tight end, we use him more at split, defensive end. But he’s a kid that, again, it’s time to pay up, or shut up. “Because he has all the tools, and this is his varsity shot now. He’s a very talented kid. “So I’ve got some tall trees that can go up and catch the ball.” Grounded, there’s Peter Gesualdi, Darien’s premier prancer. He’s back, bigger, stronger, primed to lead the rush. “He’s not the little skinny sophomore he was,” said Trifone. “And he’s a talented kid.” Gesualdi ran 118 times for 745 yards, scoring five touchdowns last season. He averaged 57.3 yards per game. “I think Peter is a special kid,” Trifone said. “Anyone that starts varsity football on an FCIAC championship team as a sophomore, has something going that the average kid does not.” He almost runs blind. If Baldwin is Superman’s alter ego in demeanor, then Gesualdi comes on like Batman. Or even, a real flying bat. “In addition to speed, Peter’s got incredible vision,” said Trifone. “When he’s gliding through the field, he has this sixth sense to see the daylight and just make it happen. “And I’ve coached many running backs that were faster and bigger. But they would run into a tackle. I would show them the film and say, don’t you see this cut? “And I’ve come to learn, either you see it, or you don’t. Coach Trifone is not going to teach you to see the cut.” Stovall is at fullback, Eppley, last year a defensive player, is at running back as well. On defense he’s a linebacker, one of the four returning starters. Darien’s been accustomed to having high-scoring kickers in recent years and that stays the custom with senior Chris Smith and CJ Raia’s long-range cleats. Smith punted 25 times for 911 yards, 54 long, 10 inside the 20 last year. He sent the ball 1,217 yards on 26 kickoffs, 60 the longest. He booted six PAT points. “Not only do we have Smith, but we’ve got CJ Raia,” said Trifone. “And CJ finished the year for us kicking the field goal in the FCIAC Championship.” The junior Raia made seven field goals, scored 49 PAT, he kicked-off 33 times for 1,459 yards, 60 long. “Two very capable kickers,” Trifone added. “Honestly, one is just as good as the next. “It’s an overlooked portion of the high school game.” Darien’s schedule? It’s average, according to Trifone, with several “sleepers” on the slate. Although DHS knows it has to be wide awake to get through the early stretch of St. Joe away in game three, then Danbury on the road, home to Trumbull, Wilton, then away at Staples for the bulk of the season. The Wave’s got a sleeper asset in it’s consistency of leadership. “A big positive is that my entire coaching staff is intact,” Trifone said. “Again, sometimes that goes under the radar. We’re a staff that has a nice blend of a lot of experience — some youth and enthusiasm — and we work well together. To have that all intact is important.” “Well, not to sound like a broken record, but I think a lot of it depends on how fast our kids turn from jv players to varsity players,” Trifone said. “Kids mature at different rates. And not to put pressure on him, but obviously our quarterback position is vital.” “And I think Henry has all the potential and all the capability. Now let’s see what happens.” The goal posts for season 2011 remain the same as the goal posts every year. “To win them all — win them all,” Trifone added. The goal posts bend, but rarely break for DHS these days. “As soon as you lose one, if you happen to, then your goal is to win the rest of them,” he said. It will be a tough transition, clearly, replacing the rest of the gigantic graduated crew. “This is my 33rd year coaching high school football,” said Trifone. “And the administration in every building I’ve ever worked at, has not allowed me to hold those kids back — they make them graduate.” The hazards of coaching the scholastic treadmill. “I kid my kids, I say, look, no matter what you do, they’re always going to graduate, and on September Wild card How might DHS fly back into the 17th we’re going to kickoff. “With or without them.” title fray, despite losing big pieces to its title team chessboard?

HAIRY-UP — Wave cheerleaders, with Hannah Carmody above, can’t wait to get started on Saturday. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

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THE DARIEN TIMES, THURSDAY, SEPT. 15, 2011

ROHN’S ROLE — Defender Galen Rohn’s leadership role as sole returning starter will be a demanding one. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

Rohn, Cassidy lead huge turnover crew for 4-time champs
By Steven Buono Times Sports Editor Winning all FCIAC and league titles since 2007, but losing the bulk of its 2010 crew, you could say Wave field hockey is a rebuilding concern. Don’t say that, though. Because with what’s been set in stone as a program over the past halfdecade and more, it’s much more like DHS is simply moving house — castle to castle — rather than rebuilding its dynasty. Darien can reload its roster. But taking a fifth straight set of league and CIAC championships will be more in question than has been so, since 2007. Still, the seniors and coach Mo Minicus look set to keep the program rolling on this fall. At least, eventually.
Fall 2011 Preview: Field Hockey

“You know what? We have depth,” Minicus said. “A lot of depth, and the girls are hungry.” The empty plate comes with having no Class of 2011’s Sophie Doering, Ellie Riegel, Alex Iqbal — no Gill girls — goalie Perrin Brown... Sophie Watters, Sam Johnston, and more. “What we are dealing with now in preseason is the fact that it literally is a brand new team,” said Minicus. “Girls have game experience, but there is only one returning starter.” That’s a strong one in senior defender Galen Rohn. “We’ve had scrimmages, and I have to say we grow every day,” Minicus said. “It’s just trying to find the lineup. Just the chemistry — none of these girls have really

ever played together before as a solid unit at this level. “It will take time, but hopefully we can put it together.” Quite the coaching challenge then, for a national coach of the year? “I’ve got my work cut out for me,” she said. “If I can get them to work hard and do their best, that’s all I can ask.” Growing opportunities will come with Darien’s enhanced schedule. “We have a very tough schedule this year,” said Minicus. “That’s going to be a real challenge.” Darien plays Lakeland, N.Y., Rye in non-league match-ups. “Hopefully this will prepare us for the postseason,” she added. “It’s great to go outside.” Darien opens the season at home vs. Staples on Sept. 19, closing the regular season with a strict stretch

playing Ludlowe, Wilton, New Canaan all at home, and Greenwich away, on the hop. They have six seniors, but it’s a sophomore that might provide an offensive spark. Hollis Perticone came on looking to have a nose for the net as a rookie last season. “Hollis will definitely be a major contributor offensively,” Minicus said. “Whether she’s setting up plays, or, hopefully scoring goals.” Rohn, Julia Cobb, co-captain Lily Cassidy, Mimi Morgan are returning varsity players, and up from jv Haley Clifford and Megan Archey. Juniors include many jv, with Maggie Wells, Cammie Lattimer, Sam Wright, Lexie Perticone — injured in preseason — Kat Huber. Sophomores: Claire Culliton, Libby Feingold, Jackie Brokaw, Hollis Perticone, Mollie Riegel,

Danika Hornick in goal, and Sloane Bessey, with a lot a promise. Hornick was jv goalie in 2010. “Really excited about her, she’s agile, she works hard, she wants to learn,” Minicus said. “We’re excited for her potential.” Wright and Cassidy should slot in as a lethal pair at right wing. “Sloane, Bessey and Kat really will hold together our midfield, at this point,” Minicus said over a week before the start of the season. “Galen will quarterback the defense.” Cobb and Morgan are expected to fill in gaps defensively at midfield. “Those are sort of the go-to’s right now,” Minicus said. “But it’s so young, even last year — once you pick the team and get through some scrimmages — it takes me a good two weeks to figure out who exactly is going to play where.”

All Wave updated schedules can be found all season long at darienps.org/darienathletics/

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THE DARIEN TIMES, THURSDAY, SEPT. 15, 2011

Page 7D

BRAVO! — Darien midfielder, captain, four-year starter Marieke Bravo (right) battles hard for the ball in her patch of the pitch. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

Parsons preaches possession for an ‘attack-minded’ team
By Steven Buono Times Sports Editor “The girls will be in safe hands with whoever takes it,” said former girls soccer coach Jon Bradley as he moved over to the Blue Wave boys soccer bench over the summer. “And I believe the girls will be contending again for FCIACs and states this year.” Leigh Parsons (DHS Class of 1999) is that whomever and with senior Marieke Bravo — a top midfielder in the game in the state — defender Katie Dee, Leslie Yuen and Katie Close — injured in preseason — back as captains to help make the coaching transition stick, Darien seems ready to make Bradley’s belief for real. “When I first got on the pitch and started training with the girls, I must say, I was happy to see the quality of the squad,” said Parsons, who played high level soccer in England as a teen, and is a former Blue Wave, having coached Eastern FC teams for many years. “And I was happy to see the ability of the players.” That ability is largely intact, although DHS could not have had a larger loss than in its strongest
Fall 2011 Preview: Girls Soccer

offensive player in its history, likely, in Georgie Highton (DHS ’11), now playing for Virginia Tech. “She’s a game-winner, tough to replace a player like that,” Parsons said. “But, we have girls that have stepped up and are filling in her boots, so to speak, and are ready to take it to the other teams this year.” Darien loses seven 2010-’11 seniors in all. It came down to the high wire in last year’s playoffs for the Wave, over and over again. “To lose on PK’s, twice, (in FCIACs) to a Westhill team that was returning 10 players from state championships — we were starting 10 underclassmen,” added Bradley, shaking his head over his last hurrah last season. “It makes it even harder to leave.” “I’ve seen some of their games last year, obviously when Jon was there — and I’ve heard all about it,” Parsons said. “And all the girls have said: ‘We’ve got to work on PK’s...’” Darien’s season closed with a 10 PK loss to Bunnell in the Class L quarters, leaving the Wave (16th

seed) at 11-6-1. “I think we are really excited, he’s really good with us,” said Bravo of the new coaching regime. “We work really well together. We are focusing a lot more on possession.” “We are working a lot more on pressure,” said Dee. “Working to go to goal and not just playing it forward, every single time. It’s working well.” Said Yuen: “We only lost (several) seniors, so I think our chemistry is there.” “We’re ready to play,” Bravo added. The Wave needs to break in a new goalie too, with Charlotte Phillips one of the graduated, after holding the fort in net for multiple seasons. Sophomore Phoebe Taylor takes over in goal. “She’s got great hands, great awareness around the goal,” said Parsons of the rookie starter who saw ace time in the cage last fall. “She has good distribution of the ball. So, to have a goalie like that is just an added bonus.” Parsons brings a new style — there’ll be much pressure on the ball, as the girls say. “I like the girls to be able to possess the ball and kind of break a team

down,” said Parsons. “I feel if the other team doesn’t have the ball...” Outside of systems, which may or may not alter so much from the past, Parsons won’t need to tinker with too much attitude-wise. “They already had a winning mentality, which is great,” he said. “You always love to come into a program that is used to being successful. “Next, was, where do I want to go with them?” He’s got the guns to go blazing right back into contention, with the captains and a flashy core of underclassmen — including Emily Stein, Dillon Schoen, Ellie Bennett, Kristy Gilbert for a few — who played more like upperclassmen as rookie starters last season. “We have a lot of talented girls who got a lot of valuable experience at the varsity level last year,” said Parsons. “Stuff like that is invaluable to a team when you have four or five girls who played as freshmen.” In addition to Schoen and Stein — and Bravo and the captains — all becoming the expected year stronger this season, putting Darien in a nice place in its development, sophomore Julia Black is set to possibly break out. Black another of the kiddy contingent making an impression in

2010. “We have a core of young girls back which is great to see,” said Parsons. “And they are all quality players. It’s great to build the program.” What spectators should see is just plenty of go. “Mainly, I would say, we are going to be more of a possession, attacking-minded team,” said Parsons. “A lot of what we’ve been working on is positional. Keeping the ball, moving the ball, forward run. Working on our defensive shape.” Gilbert is playing out wide on the left flank and seeming ready to make her mark there, while Vanessa Budd is coming on strong as well. “Marieke, always a solid force in the center midfield, is kind of our anchor,” said Parsons. “Katie Dee, just so good in the back. She knows when to step in and win the ball.” Bubbling under with explosive youth, this team could handily win it all. But the coach is cautious. “I’m not a big believer in thinking, oh, we are going to win our first five games — undefeated,” Parsons said. “It’s Trumbull, Tuesday night, our first game. And once we get back on that bus, we are focused on our next game.”

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THE DARIEN TIMES, THURSDAY, SEPT. 15, 2011

UP IN ARMS — Four-season cheerleader Jordan Irizarry becomes a Wave captain, with Claire Linegar, Cameron Luttrell and Hannah Carmody. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

Moore and more: Cheerleaders charged up with 13 new to crew
By Steven Buono Times Sports Editor Cheerleading coach Lauren Moore’s grown her household by double, and her team by a whole bunch too, since last fall. Married in the off season, the fifth grade teacher at Royle, finds herself with a 27-strong group.
Fall 2011 Preview: Cheerleading

“The team has grown again this year,” she said. Senior captains are Jordan Irizarry, Claire Linegar, Hannah Carmody and Cameron Luttrell. Also glittering-up the sidelines, senior Steph Gaete, juniors Izzy Lee, Ali McGarey, Emily Greene, Kelly

Manhart, Andrea Tishman, Kathryn Ledwith, Jennifer O’Neill, sophomores Michaela Schneidermeyer, Kayla Breden, Julia Rae Hodenfield, Julia Westerman, Kelly Brustman, Olivia Papic, Francesca Cara, Catherine Eppley. And it’s all fresh for ninth graders Cristina Noujaim, Franny Matlak, Kristyn Breden, Rose Armstrong, Megan Whittier, Caitlin Mobley,

Viara Radoulova. There are 13 new girls in all. “During preseason we attend UCA Cheer Camp in Penn,” said Moore. “The girls learned lots of new material and bonded together. The goal is to continue to build school spirit and our program.” Darien has a new assistant coach in Ashley Tiscia. “(Tiscia) is a kindergarten

teacher at Stamford Dat Davenport Elementary school,” said Moore. “She is a former Stamford High Cheerleader, like myself, we cheered together in high school.” Tiscia’s no doubt got moves she’ll be passing along to the crew. “She was also a member of the Eastern CT State University dance team,” Moore added.

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