By Ron P. Coderre
This week’s RPC column is dedicated to Putnam Fire Chief Bob Campbell.  A dedicated public servant, Campbell is proud of his community of Putnam and his team of firefighters.  He’s always working to improve the department.  In a few days Campbell will blow out another candle on the cake.  Wish him a Happy Birthday.
The Marianapolis Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, January 11 had more people in attendance than normal.  The reason?  The Board took a few minutes prior to its quarterly meeting to honor and salute the 2015 Lady Knights varsity soccer team.
Escorted into the room by Head of School Joseph Hanrahan along with faculty member David DiCicco and Director of Athletics Eric Gustavson, the team was accompanied by its head coach Esad Darman.  Following generous words and accolades on the recent season by Gustavson, the team’s members introduced themselves to the members of the Board.
This season’s squad, which produced a record of 17-4-3, lost a heartbreaker in the semifinals of the NEPSAC Championships to a very good St. Luke’s team.  Along the way the young ladies brought honor and pride to the school, not only for their outstanding record of wins but also for the way they handled themselves on the pitch.  They were proud in victory and humble in defeat but most of all they displayed great sportsmanship, whether in victory or defeat.
The team entered 2015 with high expectations for a great season because of the nucleus of returning players and an influx of talented freshmen.  The expectations appeared justified when the team swept the opening jamboree at Bancroft School.  The young booters displayed a “refuse to quit” attitude as they began their march through SENE competition. 
Along the way they produced victories over such prestigious programs as Providence Country Day, Worcester Academy, Lincoln School, Ethel Walker School, MacDuffie School and archrival Wheeler School.
They rolled through the SENE Tournament with a 6-0 shutout over St. Andrew’s School and a gut wrenching 2-1 squeaker over Wheeler School.  In the NEPSAC postseason event they got past a rugged Greens Farm Academy 2-1 before meeting their eventual downfall against St. Luke’s School.
In the semis, the game was tied 1-1 after regulation.  After two grueling overtime periods the contest remained knotted 1-1.  The eventual verdict came when they were edged during a shootout.  Despite the loss, the team gave its fans a ride through the season that will be remembered for years to come.
Marianapolis Board Chairman Dan Atwood offered the team words of congratulations and thanks for a “job well done” representing the school.  Board member Keith O’Hara, a member of the athletics subcommittee, echoed Atwood’s sentiments.  He presented each young lady with a Marianapolis pennant, noting “display this with pride, whether you’re a senior moving on to college or a returning Marianapolis student.”
Head coach Darman, who had a long and illustrious soccer career as a professional player and coach, offered his words of appraisal on the team along with congratulatory remarks.  Darman was assisted this season by assistant coach Kellie Ryan, who brought a strong background in premier soccer to the program.
Woodstock Gymnasts Rolling… 
Led by the one-two punch of Paige Stuyniski and Grace Logan, the Woodstock Academy Centaur gymnastic team rolled to a tri-meet victory, beating Killingly and Windham.  The results - Woodstock 139.15 – Killingly 99.4 – Windham 38.6.
Stuyniski captured all-around honors with a score of 35.4 followed by Logan, 34.5 and Maddie Grube, 32.5.  The Centaur’s Ali Crescimanno was the winner in the vault, while Stuyniski won the bars and Logan captured the honors in the beam and floor competition.
Keeping up with the Collegians…
Ian Converse, who led Woodstock Academy to a CIAC Class L championship two years ago, is coming into his own on the collegiate level at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  In a recent win over archrival MIT, WPI prevailed 70-62 thanks to a double-double by the 6-foot, 5-inch Converse.  In posting his third double-double of the season, Converse had 19 points and 14 rebounds.  It was his sixth game this season in double figures.  He’s averaging 10.1 points and 6.7 rebounds a game for coach Chris Bartley.
Converse, who averaged just six minutes a game in his previous two seasons, has earned a starting role for the Engineers.  He’s helped lead WPI to a 12-2 record on the season and a 2-0 start in the NEWMAC.  The Engineers are ranked 12th in the Division III standings.
In the win over MIT (9-3, 1-1) Converse was spectacular, hitting on 8 of 10 from the field with a pair of three-pointers.  He scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half.
Across town at Worcester State University, former Putnam Science Academy big man Paul Brooks continues to dominate the paint for the Lancers.  In a 94-83 loss to Salem State, the 6-9 Brooks posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds for the 9-6 overall Lancers.  WSU is 1-1 in the MASCAC.
At Quinnipiac University another PSA Mustang, 6-8 Chaise Daniels is back on the hardwood for coach Tom Moore after battling knee problems.  In an 88-74 loss to Monmouth Daniels had six points in limited action.  
Two other former Tom Espinosa protégés, twins Aaron and Andrew Robinson were held scoreless by Monmouth.  The twins, who are freshmen, are coming along slowly for coach Moore and the Bobcats who are struggling at 5-9 on the season. 
Headed to the Keystone State…
The St. Louis Cardinals recently announced minor league assignments for managers and coaches for the upcoming season.  Former Red Sox catcher Roger LaFrancois of Jewett City will return for another season at State College, Penn.  He’ll once again serve as the hitting coach for the Spikes, who’ll be managed by Johnny Rodriguez for his second stint with the New York – Penn entry.  Darwin Marrero also returns as the team’s pitching coach.  C.J. Beatty joins the coaching staff after a seven-year playing career.
Local Stats…
High school and prep basketball stat leaders are beginning to fall into place as the girls approach the mid-point of the season and the boys have passed the quarter mark of the season.  The leaders of the hockey scoring parade belong to Woodstock Academy as they are the only high school with a hockey team.
Ryan Black with 12 goals and nine assists for 21 points heads the icemen’s scoring list.  Nathan DeLuca with 10 goals trails Black in that category, while Deluca with seven assists to go with his goal tally has 18 points.  Zack Burnham with eight assists is second in that category.
Julie Jordan of Plainfield is the area’s scoring leader with 119 points for a 14.9 points per game average.  Her teammates Zoe Beaver and Madeline Lorange are tied for the lead in the 3-point category with 15 apiece.
Putnam’s Dino Porcic with 96 points in five games stands atop the leader board with a 19.2 ppg. average.  He’s followed by Plainfield’s Liam Jacobs (19.0) and 114 points and Trent Raymond of Ellis Tech (18.3) and 128 points.
The top female prep player in points per game is Pomfret’s Alyzae Davis (16.5) followed by Hyde- Woodstock’s Dairy Rojas (14.5).  Davis’ teammates Olivia Batastini and Deja Ross   are next, tied at 12.2 points per game.  Batastini is the top three-point producer with 25, followed by a pair from Marianapolis.  Lady Knights Nicole Anderson and Caroline Soucy each have a dozen treys.
Pomfret’s high scoring duo of Cam Winston (16.3) and Christian Wilson (14.6) lead the men’s prep scoring race.  They are followed by the Putnam Science Academy trio of Hamidou Diallo (13.3), Saul Phiri and Mamadou Diarra each at 12.9.  Phiri is the top three-point producer with the astronomical number of 47 followed by Joe Del Ricci of Marianapolis with 29 and Collin Sawyer of Putnam Science Academy with 18.
RPC’s Closing Thought For The Day: Success is a habit and winning is a habit – unfortunately, so is losing.
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