Valley Sees Numerous Highlights in Fall of 2010
There was plenty to cheer about if you are a follower of Warriors' athletics this fall and the Courier looks back at some of those achievements.
All of the pieces fit perfectly together for the Valley football team this 2010 season. The Warriors had a plethora of firsts, including posting a 10-0 record for its first perfect regular season in program history, beating Cromwell, and making the playoffs, all while taking home the conference title.
Week after week, Valley went through the season racking up the wins that eventually earned them the undefeated record. The Warriors closed out their regular season on Thanksgiving Eve with a win against Haddam-Killingworth, earning another Principal's Cup and the Pequot Conference title, and went into the Class S State Playoffs as the No. 1 seed, beating 8th-seeded Sacred Heart in the quarterfinals. As if making the state tournament for the first time ever wasn't enough, getting that win over a tough Sacred Heart team was icing on the cake and enough to send them to Waterbury to face defending state champion St. Joseph.
Despite the loss to St. Joseph that ended their perfect season, the Warriors accumulated enough success throughout the campaign to keep their heads high.
Much of the Warriors' success can be credited to the team's 15 experienced seniors, including captains Mitchell King (co-Offensive Player of the Year) and Justin Zabilansky (co-Defensive Player of the Year), along with John Finkeldey (co-Offensive Player of the Year), Kyle Connor (Coaches' Award), Drake Ewart, Liam Forstein, Taylor Rioux (Most Improved), Mike Duggan, Justin Wells (Most Improved), Cavan Flynn (co-Defensive Player of the Year), Joe Corriveau, Brett Griffith, Drew Scott, Jeff Doran, and Aaron Otama.
Coach Tim King also credits the team's second-place finish in the conference weightlifting competition as a reason for Valley's success.
Another strong point for the Warriors was junior quarterback Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn. The MVP and Hartford Courant Offensive Player of the Year placed in the top 10 in several offensive stats in the state and led the team on the field, along with teammates and fellow juniors Justus Doane (Lineman of the Year), Colin Devlin, Ross Burr, Owen Guarino, Ben Roche, and sophomore Alastair Garden.
It was a whirlwind 2010 season for the Valley Regional boys' soccer team. After finishing 2009 with few losses, the Warriors challenged last year's record with an overall finishing record of 16-4-1 (13-2-1 in the conference) and saw trips to both the conference tournament (as the No. 2 seed) and Class S State Tournament (as the No. 3 seed). Most exciting was Valley's appearance in the state final for the first time in 10 years, suffering a 3-1 loss to Somers, but coming home as the runner-up.
The Warriors had a slow start, but then went on a rampage, winning their last 13 out of 15 games before losing the Shoreline semifinals. They then beat Canton in the second round of the state tournament and went onto beat Coginchaug in the quarterfinals and Montville in the semifinals before falling to Somers in the final.
This season was a credit to the nine seniors on the team, most of whom have been playing soccer together since their youth days. Captains Jon Dilger-who finished as the team points leader with 22 goals, Ryan Wichtowski, and Ryan Carufe-who was given the Warrior Award, were instrumental in getting the team as far as they did. Dilger and Wichtowski were also named First Team All-Shoreline, All-State, and to the Senior Bowl team.
The remaining seniors were also huge pieces to Valley's success in Adam Jaynes, Jimmy Vargas, Alex Polo, David Johns-also a First Team All-Shoreline honoree, Matt Herman, and Brett Lacoske.
Junior Clay Arnold earned the Most Improved Award while sophomores Mason King and Kyle Peterson earned the Coaches' Award. Also standing out were sophomore Ryan Pomroy, who earned Honorable Mention All-Shoreline, junior Peter Dixon, and sophomore goalkeeper Chris Polo, both of whom earned Second Team All-Shoreline with the latter notching 10 shutouts.
Coming off a two-loss season in 2009, the Valley Regional girls' soccer squad returned this year with a goal in mind: to challenge their previous record and make it further into the conference and state tournaments. Finishing 2010 with a 9-7-3 record, the Warriors made it to the Shoreline Conference final and lost in heartbreaking fashion to defending champ Old Lyme while also making the state tournament again before falling in the first round, thus reaching some of their goals in a hard-fought season that saw plenty of heart.
Valley earned big wins over conference foes Westbrook, Cromwell, Portland, Coginchaug, HK, North Branford, and Morgan before beating Morgan (who finished as state runner-up) in the conference semifinals to face undefeated Old Lyme in the final, losing in the last minutes of overtime by one goal. 17th-seeded Valley then lost to HK in the first round of Class M play in penalty kicks, 3-2.
Part of the reason for the success should be credited to the number of seniors and experienced players on the team. Senior captains Megan Perkins, Ali Pash, and Marissa Barnes were keys to the puzzle while fellow seniors Meri Kelly, Sam Tolley, Megan Mallon, Kate Barnett, and Nicole Bauer were also large contributors.
Also proving to be sparks on offense and defense were juniors Chelsea Cook, goalkeeper Sydnie Kleiman, Megan Korcak, Ashley Paholski, Ragan Decker, and Katie Castelli, as well as freshman keeper Kiernan Decker, who put in some time in the net.
Not quite reaching the caliber of success from 2009, the Valley volleyball team still had much to be proud of in the 2010 season. Posting a 5-13 season record-three less wins than last fall-the Warriors fought tooth-and-nail against a very tough league that includes state runner-up Morgan, North Branford, Cromwell, Old Lyme, East Hampton, and Coginchaug.
Valley's five wins came against Cromwell, Hyde, and North Branford with fights coming in their games against conference runner-up HK in four sets and league powerhouse Old Lyme, whom the Warriors lost to 3-1 in one of their matches.
The team will bid farewell to seniors Baylee Boulem, Kelly Cline-who was one of the league leaders in kills and serving aces, as well as a Second Team All-Shoreline player-Heather Eddy, Alexina Hebert, Kelsey Murphy, Arianna Vassallo, and Marlena Vitali.
Throughout the 2010 fall season, everyone in the league was literally trying to keep up with the Valley Regional team. Coming into the season with talent, it was only fitting and expected that the Warriors ended with an undefeated 19-0 record, as Shoreline Conference champions, and third in the state with a slew of individual bests to boast, including a conference and state champion.
This team crushed the competition throughout the regular season, earning their undefeated status in dual meets along the way and then eventually winning the league title and coming in third in Class SS.
The Warriors' success was undoubtedly because of the team's top five, made up of mostly underclassmen: Allison Gates, Amelia Eppard, Georgia O'Neil, Katie Watts, and senior Megan Gaimei. Gates won both the conference and state title, was named team MVP and Shoreline Female Runner of the Year, and earned the Best First-Year Runner Award, this being her first cross-country season after tearing up the track scene last year.
Eppard was another standout who earned All-State and First Team All-Shoreline honors for her stellar results in both races, as well as the Most Improved Award.
Also rounding out the top five were O'Neil (First Team All-Shoreline), Watts (Second Team All-Shoreline) and Gaimei with senior captains and Coaches' Award recipients Liza Dee and Amelia Haney proving to be solid leaders on the course as well. Fellow seniors Megan Callahan and Sophie Marion also contributed.
During the summer of 2010, the Valley Regional boys' cross-country team collectively trained in order to try to get ahead of the game and be well-conditioned for the start of the fall season. This extra mileage was met by many of the team members and the first few meets of the 2010 season reaffirmed this as the Warriors won or were top competitors in their races throughout the season, finishing in sixth place in the Shoreline Championships and 11th in Class SS.
This season saw another duo of strong captains: senior second-year captain Rodney Mosier and junior Glenn Holmes, the team's top runner throughout the season and recipient of First Team All-Shoreline, All-State, and team MVP honors. Also running well during the season were seniors Zack Mantie, Peter Russo, Patrick Campbell, Dylan Morano (Most Valuable First-Year Runner and Second Team All-Shoreline recipient), Josh Proteau, and Jake Wlochowski. Kevin Bango earned the Most Improved Award and Casey McKeon the Coaches' Award.
Despite a 4-11-1 record, the Valley Regional field hockey team could not be judged by those finishing numbers. Known as one of the tougher teams to beat on the shoreline-they gave top teams such as Old Saybrook, North Branford, and Morgan a run for their money-the Warriors gained solid props for a season well-played.
Valley gained their wins against Westbrook, Killingly, and Old Saybrook in their last game and suffered many of their losses in close contests,.
The team owed much of its success to its seven experienced seniors: Ari Smith, Vanessa Aspilaire, Becca Feaster, Christine Marsh, Deisy Naranjo, Nicole Scionti, and Jessie Baier. Bringing skill, organization, and hard work to a young team, this group also produced a few Shoreline Conference awards as well from its three captains. Scionti-the team's force in the net for many years-earned First Team All-Shoreline with Naranjo earning Second Team and Baier Honorable Mention.
The Warriors could also credit fresh coaching experience coming from first-year assistant Caitlon Stedman-a former athlete for Westbrook-to their success.
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