Only the older readers can fully appreciate the phrase "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." This was uttered by sportscaster Jim McKay in his introduction to the weekly sports wrap show Wide World of Sports, which dates back to 1961. Though neither the Varsity Baseball nor Boys Lax team wiped out like that downhill skier, by the end of last week both teams could have related to McKay's classic line as they split their games against some stiff competition.
On Monday, fresh off their 21-10 demolition of Hopkins, Boys Lax hosted the Canterbury School of New Milford and emerged with a 16-9 victory. The Hornets were eager to atone for one of their poorer performances last season, and came out firing to take a respectable 6-3 lead after just one quarter of play, led by sharpshooting Alex DiVincentis’s early hat trick. In the second quarter, the game was more even as the Saints grew stubborn on defense and climbed back to trail 7-5 at half. However, the Hornets reasserted their dominance in the 3rd, outscoring the visitors 5-2, and added 3 more in the final frame to seal the well-deserved W. On offense, the Hornets spread the wealth around: DiVincentis finished with 4 goals and assist; Jeff Nugent also netted 4 while dealing out 2 assists; both Chili Lilly and LJ Pezzolesi had 2 and 2, while Zach Guigno had a goal and 3 assists. Kai Bruneau and Sam Tomak also got into the scorebook with a goal apiece. Jackson Lalonde did not win every faceoff (see Hopkins game); however he was still a force, besting his counterpart 16-10. Sam Jewett was rock steady in the goal, and the defense provided him with plenty of good support. Middie LJ Pezzolesi is on a record setting pace for ground ball pick ups and he helps decisively at both ends of the field.
On Friday, the team had the opportunity to square off against Marblehead HS, a public school located north of Boston, which makes an annual trip during their spring break to take in college games and play local schools. The Hornets eventually fell 14-13 in triple overtime, but the thrilling comeback to force the overtime will be what most fans remember about the contest.
The teams traded goals in the first quarter of what quickly shaped up to be a cagey affair, with HH taking a 3-2 lead. The Magicians then won the second quarter 3-1 to edge out to a slim 5-4 lead at half. Marblehead’s zone defense and standout goalkeeping continued to frustrate the Hornets attack in the 3rd quarter, and the visitors seemed to be on the verge of putting the game out of reach with an 11-7 lead with only 2 minutes remaining in the game, when it finally all came together for the Hornets. Jackson Lalonde provided the spark, winning each faceoff to enable the Hall to mount their fierce comeback. Chase Lilly scored to make it 11-8 with 1:41 left on the clock; seven seconds later it was 11-9 from a strike by Alex DiVincentis; and then he scored again with a minute to go. Marblehead called timeout to stem the tide but to no avail as LJ Pezzolesi completed the comeback with only 17 seconds remaining. After the defense held strong, both teams geared up for overtime. By this time, the momentum was clearly with the Hornets and they almost grabbed the winner early in OT. But neither offense could find a way through the opponent’s wall of defense as the first OT gave way to a second, and then a third OT. HH longsticks Jared Morrissey, Aiden Hebert, and Konye Taylor, in particular, were outstanding. The play of the game, however, was a phenomenal double save by Sam Jewett on what looked to be a certain goal. But the Marblehead defense wove their own magic to deny the Hornets until their attack finally slipped in the winner.
After the game Coach Kevin Warnock assessed the game by saying, ”The coaches have been stressing to the players what each one needs to do to achieve the total team effort. It was not a perfect game, but that comeback and overtime was the best we have played as a team thus far, and the guys got a glimpse of what we coaches have been talking about. Hopefully, the players will do their best to replicate that effort in our upcoming games.”
Varsity baseball’s fortunes worked out in reverse order as they first fell 7-5 against Hopkins up on the Hill on Thursday. Senior ace Ryan Doherty was solid in the early innings and the Hornets hung tough, trailing only 2-1 after the top of the 4th. But in the bottom of the frame, the Hilltoppers put up 5 runs and seemed to be on their way to a win. However, the Hornets responded with 4 of their own in the 5th, only to see a potential game tying rally fall short in the 6th. Doherty, Cam Maldonado, CJ Kuselias, and Justin Lucibello all hit doubles, and Maldonado drove in two runs, with Doherty and catcher Dennis Gamester getting an RBI apiece. Though he took the loss, Doherty finished with 9 strikeouts and gave up only one walk.
Undeterred, the team rebounded on Friday by stunning previously undefeated FAA foe, Brunswick School of Greenwich, 5-0! Sophomore Danny Carbone threw a three hit gem and got help from outfielder, Mike Coggins, who gunned down the only Bruin baserunner to reach beyond first. Carbone helped his own cause by stroking two hits, including a double, and scoring twice. Freshman Cam Maldonato’s bat again came alive as he drove in 2 runs, matched by senior Joe Liucci. CJ Kuselias also scored twice. With the win, the Hornets improve to 3-3 on the season. The team returns to action this week with back-to-back games again, first traveling to King School in Stamford on Tuesday, and then hosting St. Luke’s on Wednesday.
Jim McKay and Wide World of Sports have passed on, but his words should always live on as a reminder to our athletes of the dual nature of sports competition and how both results can bring out the best in those who compete.