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Foote School Falcons rise to all challenges with resolve during the fall sports journey

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

By Rick Menning


NEW HAVEN, CT -- A determination to be the best athletes they can be in every challenge was the common denominator among the five teams repping the maroon and grey during the 2023 fall sports competition.

Whether rising to distinction in their particular sporting endeavors, or simply battling through the peaks and valleys of a season-long journey, the Falcons to a player never wavered from their commitment to reach greater heights.

Excitement and anticipation preceded every game or meet as the soccer, field hockey and cross country teams carried The Foote School banner with pride.

Here is a rundown of the fall sports action:


CROSS COUNTRY


With strength in its numbers and power along each pathway, the Falcons' cross country squad participated in six races culminating with the Middle School Cross Country State Championships at Wickham Park in Manchester.

Bolstered by a great mix of seasoned three-year veterans and first-time team members, the sneaker competitors worked hard and improved greatly while both setting and meeting individual goals over the course of the season.

SPIRIT AND CAMARADERIE: Members of The Foote School's cross country team share some smiles and social time at one of their meets. (Photo courtesy of The Foote School.)

The team came together to form a supportive and cohesive group, and coaches were regularly impressed by the solid work ethic, motivation, shared sense of leadership and responsibility, and can-do attitude.

In team scoring, both the girls’ and boys’ teams placed second overall in all three of the larger regular-season invitationals, and handily won the dual meets against Hopkins and Our Lady of Mercy Prep.

"In the latter, our boys individually took 1st through 7th places, and our girls took 2nd through 8th -- an extremely impressive performance as a team," said coach Andrew Zielinski. "Individually, we had a number of runners who regularly placed in the top 10 and above at many of our races."

Coach Laura Stanley also was highly impressed with the Falcons and their demonstration of leadership from the many grade and experience levels. The team's willingness to achieve success included some situations during practices that were far from ideal.

"There were definitely memorable practices -- the primary one being a "1-2-3" workout in the pouring rain over at Edgerton Park," she said. "No one complained and everyone present completed the hard work!"

Stanley's favorite race this season took place at Hamden Hall and featured down-the-stretch thrilling finishes.

"Seeing (our) runners pick off one or two competitors right before the finish highlighted the desire and strong finishing skills they had developed," she said.


Caw Caw Spirit Award: Cordelia Thompson.

Steady Eddie Most Improved Runner Award: Dylan Hawkins.

Smooth Operator Unsung Hero Award: Gus Larsen.

Big Toe Award: Alden Neuman.


Team Roster: Maya Abeles, Amelia Andersson, Sasha Bindra, Zachary Brenner, Jasper Byron, Quinn Byron, Myles Carter-Solomon, Maia Cort, Natalie Curtis, Claire Driver, Silvia Gozar-Zimbrean, Lorenzo Graham, Alora Hanson, Dylan Hawkins, Daniel Johnson, Elias Joseph, Gus Larsen, Will McGill, Mikk Melville, Alden Neuman, Jamison Scott, Kameron Shahid, Tristan Shahid, Eric Silva, Lulu Tang, Cordelia Thompson, Cadel Tiernan, Milosvan den Bosch, Siena Wilhelm. Coaches: Laura Stanley, Andrew Zielinski Katie Larsen.


FIELD HOCKEY


The Foote School field hockey team followed a learning curve all the way to an amazing 3-0 victory over rival Hopkins School to wrap-up their season.

Led by veteran players, the squad learned and grew with each passing game.

STICK WORK: The Foote School girls' field hockey team shows determination in winning a battle for possession during action against Hamden Hall. (Photo courtesy of The Foote School.)

"During that last game, the team played cohesively, making great passes and connecting with great passes to each other while anchoring their positions," noted coach Sheila Lavey. "Zee, our goalie, made some great saves ... and our starting midline of Esther, Molly, and Eve did an outstanding job on both offense and defense."

With that win, the Falcons finished with a record at 3-2-1. Lavey pointed out that the skills and work ethic of the entire team during the Hopkins game was outstanding.

The returning 8th graders made a pinata with candy in it for the last practice and Slater baked and decorated two beautiful maroon and grey cakes for the final team meeting.


GLUE Award: Esther Schonberger and NoorGonzalez.


Team Roster: Slater Boms, Lark Bromage, Sofia Chun, Desi Freidah, Noor Gonzalez, Safiya Gonzalez, Zee Lang, Molly Larsen, Cora Lloyd, Dorothea Meyers, Isabella Pakutka, Lucy Rapkin, Eve Reilley, Alexandra Rouwenhorst, Esther Schonberger, Phoebe Shor, Ava Vidal, Leah Wilderman, Fiona Wiman. Coaches: Pablo Devos Deak, Lauren Luparia, Sheila Lavey.


BOYS VARSITY SOCCER


Pride in their accomplishments is certainly warranted as the Falcons won seven of their nine games over the fall campaign.

Most impressive in the regular season was a 5-1 win over Country School, which just a week earlier had defeated Foote. However, this time around the maroon and grey athletes rose to the occasion. Foote scored four times in the second half after being deadlocked 1-1 at the intermission.

IN THE TRENCHES: Foote's varsity boys' soccer team takes control in traffic during a contest against Independent Day School. (Photo courtesy of The Foote School).

However, the best was still yet to come as the Falcons capped off their season by taking the title in the Pine Point Tournament. "We came agonizingly close the year before, losing the final to the hosts on penalty kicks," recalled coach John Hay. "This year, we won all of our games, scoring 27 times and only conceding one goal."

Perhaps a good tune-up for the Pine Point competition came in play against ECA toward the end of the regular season.

"That was a tough, physical battle," Hay said. "We scored a goal midway through the first half and had to defend resolutely for much of the second half. Toward the end of the game, we scored two perfect counter-attacking goals to seal the win. This game brought out the best in everyone from both an attacking and a defensive perspective."

Hay praised the team's resolve to complete the mission at Pine Point.

"We had great spirit, and the celebrations at the end of the Pine Point tournament showed how close we were as a team," he concluded.


Dirty Cleat Award: Felix Boone and Eli Wilderman.


Team Roster: Justin Aseme, Matthew Bergantino, Felix Boone, William Eden, James Elliott, Samuel Fisher, Will Gilyard, Jack Ginetti, Javier Hsu, Owen Lasater, Jackson Shaw, William Shipley, Sid Srihari, Luhao Tang, Owen Whang, Eli Wilderman. Head Coach: John Hay.


GIRLS SOCCER


Improvement was the name of the game as the girls' soccer team rebounded from some tough early going on the pitch to produce not one but two sensational efforts down the homestretch.

"Our last few games spoke to our growth as a team," said coach Kassouth Bradford. "We were winning the battle for loose balls, and the girls were showing maturity in their understanding of the game."

That upswing in performance began on their home field against Country School as the Falcons earned a hard-fought 2-2 tie after losing to that same school on the road by a 4-1 outcome.

Then, after losing to Hamden Hall 1-0 in 90-degree heat on the Albertus Magnus College turf earlier in the season, the Foote girls played the Hornets again at their school in the final regular-season game.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the athletes in the maroon and grey uniforms dominated play in the second half with no fewer than 10 good scoring chances.

With time running down and having managed to knot the score during their attack on Hamden Hall's net, Foote kept the pressure on and connected for the winning goal with just seconds remaining in the game.

(Editor's note: I served as assistant coach of this team. Here are my comments): "To end our regular season with such a thrilling outcome was a tribute to the grit and determination of our team. It was the second time they showed vast improvement against a team they had lost to previously and that's what perseverance and a comeback mindset is all about."

The girls' great attitudes, which earned them the coveted team sportsmanship award at the post-season Indian Mountain School tournament, and maturity throughout the season truly represented Foote's values and qualities.

FAST FORWARD: The Foote School girls' soccer team takes off on a rush in a game against Hamden Hall at Albertus Magnus College. (Photo courtesy of The Foote School.)

Orange Slice Award: Iris Elliott.


Team Roster: Alexis Andersson, Lexi Baez, Shayann Bershtein, Avery Bruce, Noor Burgess, Sofia Caliendo, Salome Del Rio, Alara Deniz, Eloise Dickson, Iris Elliott, Audrey Lasater, Ruthie Meyers, Jessica Park, Catherine Schlachter, Annabel Sheehan, Ellie Sudmyer, Maryam Zagmout. Coaches: Kossouth Bradford, Rick Menning.


BOYS JV SOCCER


The will to win was also a trademark of the Falcons boys' soccer understudies on the pitch as the athletes achieved a 4-2 record.

Including in those results was a 3-0 triumph against Christian Heritage on the turf field at nearby Albertus Magnus College.

FOCAL POINT: The Foote School junior varsity soccer Falcons eye the path of the ball and move in during an offensive surge. (Photo courtesy of The Foote School).

In all, the Falcons outscored their opponents 19-6, with Prince Starling leading the way with a six-goal showing in his first season playing soccer. The defining moments to the team's success came in action against Hopkins School. Ahead 1-0 and with time winding down, goalie Simon Rodriquez saved a late second-half penalty kick and then stopped a breakaway with about 20 seconds remaining.

Foote held on to capture the victory and secure our second consecutive shutout.

"The team had amazing chemistry all year despite the wide range of experience levels and abilities," said coach Joe Reiser. "(Everyone) got along from the beginning with both sixth and seventh graders working together."


Dirty Cleat Award: Bradley DeCew.


Team Roster: Ibrahim Abudayya, Lucien De La Cruz y Carmin, Bradley DeCew, Hatim Elarabi, William Gilyard, Gage Lang, Xavi Lopez, Owen Messing, Daniel Perez, Edward Perry, Simon Rodriguez, Prince Starling, Keda Tan, Tyler Witkowsky. Head Coach: Joe Reiser.



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