Centaurs pg 1 11-12-20

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Chasing Down
Woodstock Academy senior Ciara MacKinnon tracks down the ball in a win over Windham last week which closed out the regular season. Photo by Marc Allard.

Centaurs boys
finish regular
It was a far cry from a year ago.
The Woodstock Academy boys’ soccer team won only one of its 16 games last season.
This year, the Centaurs won all nine of their regular season matches after a 2-1 win over Windham Nov. 6 in Willimantic.
Woodstock Academy will finish the season with a pair of ECC “experience” regional tournament matchups.
“You set out to win every game and to do that in the regular season is something to be proud of. The hardest game of the season was the last with everything on the line. It made it a bit more special,” said Woodstock Academy coach Paul Rearden.
Windham came into the match with a 4-0 record.
It had been on the sidelines for a couple of weeks due to the school shutting down briefly to deal with COVID-19 issues.
“It was the type of game you look forward to playing, two really competitive teams. Neither team held anything back. We were going 100 percent for the win,” Rearden said.
The Whippets have been known for their quickness.
Rearden said that was the case again and when you add skill to that quality, it made for a match that the Centaurs could never relax in.
The first half finished in a scoreless tie.
Rearden decided to change things up a bit going into the second.
The Centaurs started the match with four in the back, but that left only one striker, Ty Morgan.
Windham had two very quick defenders in the back and Morgan was finding it difficult to create on his own.
Rearden opted to give Morgan a little help, moving Eric Phongsa up from the midfield in the second half.
It paid immediate dividends.
Ten minutes into the second half, Rich Hickson played a ball out from midfield to Phongsa down the right side. Phongsa took the ball on the run and from about 25 yards out launched a low liner that found its way inside the far post.
It was Phongsa’s 10th goal of the season.
The Centaurs got some insurance 12 minutes later.
Senior Huck Gelhaus sent a corner deep into the box which Andrew Johnson was able to elevate and get his head on from about 10 yards out.
“Once Andrew gets some steam going, his eyes fixed on the ball, and is going forward, it’s going to take a brave man to stop him,” Rearden said.
Woodstock Academy needed that goal.
The Centaurs had a couple of other good opportunities, but failed to cash in.
Windham, meanwhile, was able to cut the lead in half.
Alexandro Coj scored off a corner with six minutes left for the Whippets.
But the defense rose to the challenge. “There were some anxious moments, but the boys did well to see the game out,” Rearden said.
Rearden said that defense has been the difference this season.
“We’ve been solid at the back. No matter what the teams are that you play, in nine games, we only conceded two goals. That speaks volumes. Last year, there were teams we should have beaten but we gave too many goals away either through a lack of concentration or wrong decisions. We were 100 percent locked in this year,” Rearden said.
Girls’ Soccer
It was a great way to end the three-game regular season series between The Woodstock Academy and Killingly girls’ soccer teams.
The two battled to a 2-2 draw last week.
The first two meetings were nail biters.
Killingly won the first one, 3-2, with a goal a minute into the second overtime.
The Centaurs avenged that loss with a 3-2 win with a goal in the last minute of regulation.
It was déjà vu all over again in the third and final regular season meeting with the scored tied at the end of regulation.
But with the sun going down, a chill setting in and the two teams battling fatigue — Woodstock Academy had not played a game in a week and a half and Killingly was playing a back-to-back after missing two weeks due to the pandemic — the coaches opted not to play overtime.
“We were going to play overtime but when the buzzer sounded I suggested to (Killingly coach) Jim (Lackner) that we just end it in a tie. Everyone kind of went home a little happy and a little disappointed, but still even.” said Woodstock Academy coach Dennis Snelling.
Killingly (5-1-1) jumped out on top early when sophomore Casey Beauregard scored a pair of goals, each off long send-ins by Grace Nichols.
The first came 22 minutes, 15 seconds into the game when Nichols’ free kick bounced in front of Beauregard and she was abler to elevate, get her head on it and knock it up and over Woodstock Academy keeper Rebecca Nazer who was coming out to challenge.
Just a little less than three minutes later, Beauregard controlled another Nichols’ free kick, made a move to her left and attempted a shot from about 25 yards out.
The ball deflected off a Centaur defender, but the redirection sent the ball toward the net and it found the back for a 2-0 Killingly lead.
It was Beauregard’s fourth goal of the season.
The Centaurs had peppered the Killingly net all game, they outshot Killingly 30-5, but found it difficult to break through.
“We definitely had a lot of shots and we knew if we just kept shooting, eventually, one was going to go in. We kept working to send it forward and connect through the middle to our strikers. We had a lot of opportunities which was great,” said senior Lucy McDermott.
Snelling was happy with what he saw. “To outshoot a team that is considered to be the best in the area, 30-5, that’s good for us,” said the coach.
It was an individual effort that produced the first goal for the Centaurs.
Grace Gelhaus weaved her way through the Killingly defense to daylight and found herself one-on-one with Killingly keeper Aryn Nisbet (12 saves).
Gelhaus rocketed a shot to the post for her ninth goal of the season.
“She said, ‘When I dribble through five people, I feel selfish.’ I told her that she is just being a good teammate,” Snelling said with a laugh.
The Centaurs had eight chances in the second half to tie, but had to wait until just 17:57 remained when McDermott put home her third goal of the season.
“I saw Grace dribbling the ball through the center and I was making a wide run when she hit it. I took a touch and just put it in,” McDermott said.
The Centaurs had nine shots on goal in the final minutes, but could not put in the game winner.
 “I knew we could come back from the 2-0 deficit. We had the early chances and knew where they were struggling and what we had to do. We hit post and crossbar in both halves. We were right there,” Snelling said.
The Centaurs finished off the regular season with a 6-1 win over Windham last Thursday.
Gelhaus scored her 10th and 11th goals of the season while Ciara MacKinnon added a pair of tallies.
Woodstock Academy jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Stella Brin took a cross from Ava Coutu just a minute, 13 seconds into the match.
But the game with Killingly the day before left the Centaurs a little slow afoot early and the Whippets capitalized when Sienna Ortiz got the equalizer with 15 minutes left in the half.
Peyton Saracina answered just over a minute later to put the Centaurs ahead to stay.
Woodstock Academy finished the regular season with a 7-1-1 record.
McDermott said it was just nice to be able to get out and play some soccer this fall despite the problems with Covid-19.
“We’re stuck inside all day so to be able to come to practice after a long day at school is great and it’s great to see your friends. Just having games, in general, is amazing. We never thought we would get this far,” McDermott said.
The Centaurs were scheduled to play a pair of Eastern Connecticut Conference “experience” tournament matches this week.
It was a busy week for the Centaurs who won two out of three to finish the regular season with a 7-3 record.
Woodstock Academy finished up Nov. 6y with 3-0 win over Plainfield.
Junior outside hitter Aurissa Boardman led the way as she finished with 10 kills, 12 digs and four aces.
Middle hitter Sierra Bedard finished with three kills and a block and setter Annarose Avery had 18 assists.
The one that got away was Nov. 5.
The Centaurs, who went into the ECC experience as the third seed in the Northern Division bracket I tournament, lost to top-seeded Griswold, 3-0, at the Alumni Fieldhouse.
“They have good hitters, but you look at their defense, and they just have everything,” Woodstock Academy coach Adam Bottone said in praise of the Wolverines. “(Kamryn Lathrop) can hit from the outside, the opposite and the middle. They have some versatility with her and their setter (Kuranda Ruggiero) and we struggled defensively reading and watching what was going on.”
Lathrop had 12 kills and four blocks in the Griswold (5-0) victory while Ruggiero delivered 25 assists.
Despite the troubles reading what the Wolverines were doing, the Centaurs kept it close throughout.
They lost two of the three sets by a slim, 25-22, margin. Griswold won the other set, 25-19.
Centaurs’ setter Tabby Bezanson had 15 assists and 11 digs in the loss while middle hitter Amelia Large had nine kills and two blocks from the middle.
Griswold was supposed to be the top seed in the tournament but returned to virtual learning and will not compete.
The Centaurs opened the week with a 3-0 win over New London.
Bottone was concerned a bit when the Whalers hung close in the first set, the Centaurs just pulled out a 25-22 win.
They righted the ship in the last two sets, winning 25-6 and 25-10.
Leila MacKinnon had six kills and five aces for the Centaurs while Large had six kills and Bezanson was terrific from beyond the service line, delivering 16 points including eight aces.
Field Hockey
The Centaurs had a 50-50 week with both of their games ending in 5-0 decisions, one in favor of Woodstock Academy at Killingly, the other going to its opponent.
The Centaurs overcame the elements and Killingly Nov. 2.
Temperatures in the 30s and the wind gusting to what could be considered tropical storm force greeted the two teams on Killingly’s home field.
It didn’t seem to faze Woodstock Academy which scored just 2 minutes, 25 seconds into the match.
Rachel Canedy delivered an unassisted goal to give the Centaurs the 1-0 advantage.
It began a 35-shot barrage on the Killingly cage.
Olivia Ott added the next two goals off assists from Alexia Adams and Alex Vaida.
Vaida got a goal of her own off a Canedy assist and Eliza Dutson finished off the scoring for the Centaurs.
The weather got a lot better on Saturday when the temperature reached the mid-70’s.
Unfortunately, the warmth and the home turf was not enough against the Stonington Bears.
Woodstock Academy finished off the regular season with a 5-0 loss to Stonington.
The Centaurs hung in through the first half with the Bears (10-1) holding a slim 1-0 lead at the half thanks to a Hannah Anderson goal, 4 minutes, 12 seconds into the second quarter.
Stonington put it away when it added two more goals in each of the third and fourth quarters.
The Centaurs finished the regular season with a 5-3 record.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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