Darien residents gear up for fall season at GFA
Published 1:23 pm, Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The Greens Farms Academy fall sports season opened with a victory last week as the Dragons boys soccer team posted a 2-0 win over Christian Heritage on Wednesday afternoon.
GFA jumped out to an early lead when senior Ian Lee (Greenwich) converted from junior Miles McDonald (Westport). McDonald then fed senior Steffen Refvik (Westport) for GFA’s second to send the Dragons into halftime with a 2-0 lead.
Looking to increase their advantage, GFA kept the pressure on during the second half with a handful of near misses.
Senior captain and goalkeeper Henry Holzinger (Westport) recorded the first shutout of the season behind a defense that included senior captain James Velgot (Weston), junior Will McCall (Westport), freshman Aiden Murphy (Darien), and Refvik.
Seniors Jake Sinnott (Fairfield) and Nick Attai (Bridgeport), juniors Zach Liston (Wilton) and Charlie Tauck (Westport), sophomores Charlie Benson (Darien), Connor Zaminski (Greenwich), and Mitch Colonna (Rowayton) all played important roles in the victory.
GFA, now 1-0, will travel to Cheshire Academy on Sept. 13 for its next match.
Last year, as the GFA boys soccer team made a run to the FAA finals, and earned a berth in the New England Championship tournament, a host of younger players got a lot of experience.
This year, head coach Chris Mira hopes that pays off so the Dragons can simply reload, instead of rebuild after losing a big senior class.
“I’m looking forward to seeing our returning players use the playoff experience they gained last year,” Mira said. “We have a yearly goal of making the playoffs and taking it as far as we can.”
The team will be led by senior co-captains Holzinger and Velgot, who both anchor the defense.
Mira is anxious to see how the team’s experience translates on to the pitch this season.
“We have an interesting blend of upper and lower classmen,” Mira said. “Finding ways to score goals will be the key to victories.”
It’s a vastly different looking Greens Farms Academy girls soccer team this fall, one with smaller numbers and a new coach.
The Dragons, however, should remain competitive and plucky as they fight their way through a new season in 2017.
First-year coach Freya Coombe remains positive looking forward.
“This season I hope we can look to give good varsity experience to our underclassmen and continue to develop a good foundation on which to build a distinctive playing style,” Coombe said. “We have lost some top players from last year’s team to graduation and US Soccer Development Academy and so we will take some time to rebuild. Fortunately, we have a strong core of players with previous varsity experience.”
Less than two dozen athletes make up the varsity roster this fall, but returning veterans include Bella Litt (Darien), Kelly Van Hoesen (Greenwich), Ella Murphy (Darien), Sarah Logan (Darien) and Elyse Kimball (Easton).
Two freshmen — Annika White (Southport) and Sam Cohen (Westport) — impressed Coombe during the preseason.
Some of the team’s younger players have brought in some skill that just needs to translate to the varsity level.
“I have been impressed with the freshman that have joined the team and think they will be very valuable when combined with the more experienced players in the team,” she said.
There is a lot of positive energy surrounding the Greens Farms Academy field hockey program this fall.
With 15 returning varsity players joining a host of young and talented ninth graders coming into the program, second-year coach Liz Schuellin is excited about the future.
“The team and the coaching staff is really looking to build this program back to what it was in 2013,” said Schuellin, referring to the New England tournament runners-up. “We are so encouraged by our new students to GFA and our additional freshman coming up from the (middle school) program.”
Ryan Morris (Stamford) is a captain along with Lucy Holzinger (Westport) and Alex Nesi (Fairfield). Morris and Nesi are defenders while Holzinger is one of the top midfielders in the FAA.
“We have great leadership from our captains and am excited to see how their enthusiasm and confidence will influence our games,” Schuellin said.
Gracyn Sollmann (Wilton) is the other senior on the roster while juniors Bryn Morrison (Weston), Francesca DeVita (Darien) and Lindsey Offerman (Bedford, NY) also return.
Sophomores Nikki Farber (Westport) — a goalie — and Laila Pina (Weston) and Abby Everett (Fairfield) all bring talent back to campus, as well.
“We would love the opportunity to make it to post-season and think this collective group has the drive to get there,” Schuellin said.
When it comes to bright futures, GFA volleyball coach Paul Groves might want to don a set of sunglasses this year.
The Dragons are looking that good.
“Our captains have created an enthusiastic atmosphere along with high standards,” Groves said.
Those captains — Celeste Matte (Stratford), Alex Wagner (Southport), Ililta Pina (Weston) and Kirwin Carey (Westport) — are bring a bevy of experience to the court and will be back up by players who strong all over.
One of the team’s strengths, Groves said, will be at the net.
“Strengths will be our front line attack with some strong hitters,” the coach said.
In addition to Carey up front, Jessica Boolbol (Greenwich), Elena Mota (Darien) and Kristina Modzelewski (Westport) will mind the net.
Meg Nesi (Fairfield) is in her second year as the team’s setter. Seniors Kendall Roche (Darien) and Hannah Kozdeba (Shelton) add to the depth up front and in the back, respectively.
GFA cross country coach Glen Colello, now in his 13th year leading the running Dragons, has been around long enough to know that overseeing a team is a lot like running a course.
There are days that seem all uphill, times that seem all downhill and plenty of twists and turns.
The Dragons are hoping this year becomes the next step toward a bright future.
“The boys team has a strong nucleus of returners and a bright crop of freshmen. A Top-3 finish in the FAA’s and 3 all FAA boys is our goal,” Colello said. “The girls squad is returning just one runner from 2016. Their goal is to finish in the top 5 teams in the FAA.”
On the boys side of things, seniors Sean Minson (Darien), Connor Calzone (Norwalk) and Jeb Rooney (Darien) all return for another varsity season along with sophomores Charlie Bohnsack (Darien) and Owen Minson (Darien). Senior Ross Mix (Darien) should also be ready to step up and push for a spot in the top seven.
On the girls side, sophomore Kaitlin Reed (Southport) is the only returning veteran, but freshman Caroline McCall (Westport) joins the varsity program after a strong track season as an eighth grader.