As winter is upon us, and the fall seems a distant past, it seems appropriate for me to bring us all back to warmer weather, beautiful foliage, and fall sports. That’s not to say that this past fall was not a challenge. Our schools, our student athletes, and our community faced much adversity to start off the year. First came hurricane Irene, knocking out power to Bethel in an unprecedented way, and dumping rain on our fields, and blowing trees down in our town. Then came the snowstorm in October, dropping over a foot of snow in Bethel, and again knocking out power for an extended length of time. For the first time, we were shoveling snow off of our soccer fields to play a tournament game. This fall was the wettest season ever recorded in history, and still our fall sports excelled. I’d like to take this time to share with you some of the highlights of our fall season, and remind you that Bethel High School Athletics got off to a very strong start this year!
Girls’ Soccer took the field this year with a new coaching staff, led by head coach Mitch Trainor, and seven seniors. The girls went 7-4-4, and made their first appearance ever in the CIAC State Tournament Semifinals, where they lost a close game to Farmington. Bethel also earned outstanding sportsmanship honors, and grabbed the 8th seed in the SWC tournament where they lost in PKs in the quarterfinal round to a strong Lauralton Hall team. They also had five girls receive SWC honors: Autumn Sorice earned first team all conference, Caroline Schneider, Bridget Conway, and Elisa Navarro earned all Patriot division honors, and Carolyn Bradshaw received honorable mention. Autumn Sorice also went on to receive All-State honors and acceptance into the state’s senior bowl.
Boys’ Soccer was under the expertise once again this year of head coach Tony Fernandes, who led the team to a 10-4-2 season. The boys’ soccer team made appearances in both the SWC tournament, grabbing the 5th seed and losing to Pomperaug in overtime of the semifinal round, and the CIAC State tournament where they lost to a strong Suffield team in the second round. They also captured the SWC Patriot Division title. Five players earned SWC honors: Lucas Machado and Joey Merheb received all conference recognition, and Ignacio Alday, Andriy Paparo, and Lucas Carrijo earned all Patriot division honors. Lucas Machado and Joey Merheb also earned All-State recognition.
The Field Hockey team took the turf this year under the leadership of head coach Katie McGowan. They finished their season 4-9-2, and earned the 8th seed in the SWC tournament where they lost a close game to number one seeded Lauralton Hall. They did not earn a berth into the state tournament this year as they’d hoped, but they did have seven players earn recognition from the SWC: Jenna Mango earned all conference honors, Allison Hitchcock, Dakota Wissell, and Nicole Meadows earned all Patriot division, and Erin Brelling, Jessica Nota, and Stephanie Schuett earned honorable mention. Jenna Mango also earned All-State honors and played in the all-star game.
The Girls’ Volleyball team took the court this year under head coach Mari Lerz and sole senior Madison Duffy. They finished the season with a 9-11 overall record. The girls made the SWC tournament as the number 7 seed, and played a close quarterfinal game against Barlow, but lost the game 3-2. They also made the CIAC State Tournament, but lost to Nonnewaug in the first round. Four girls from the volleyball team were recognized by the SWC: Madison Duffy earned all conference honors, Emily DeFazio and Nicole Cibu earned all Patriot division, and Shannon Ryan earned honorable mention. Madison Duffy, the team’s only senior, earned All-State recognition, and she was also the recipient of the Val Dickinson Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $500.
Girls’ Cross Country
Girls’ Cross Country hit the ground running this year under the coaching expertise of our former Athletic Director Mark Goodwin. The girls earned a 9-6 overall record, and placed 7th in both the SWC and the Class MM CIAC State meets. Sarah Whalen earned all conference first team honors in the SWC, and she ran in the state open.
Boys’ Cross Country
The Boys’ Cross Country Team ran this year under the guidance of coach Gene Waring. The team was 7-7 overall, and this year’s seniors have gone 23-31 in their past four years. The team also placed 9th in the SWC Invitational, 21st in the Wickham Invitational, 10th in the SWC meet, 8th overall in the SWC, and 15th in the Class M State meet.
The cheer squad took the football field this year under head coaches Elizabeth Leto and Sarah Hartley. Although they didn’t compete this fall, they majorly contributed on the sidelines at every football game keeping the crowd involved and cheering on our football players! For the winter season, Bethel Middle School’s Victoria Butler will be taking over the program.
The Bethel High School Football team took the field this year under the guidance of head coach Jason Gill, and associate head coach Bruce Martin. With a coaching staff amassing to more than 100 years total combined experience, it was no wonder the Wildcats had such a successful season. Under the senior captain leadership of Brandon Schmidt, Brian Birdsell, Thiago Lanes, and Tyler Gall, the team was sure to achieve greatness. They went 7-3 overall in the regular season, and earned a spot in the CIAC State tournament where they lost in the quarterfinal round to a strong Ansonia team. They were also the SWC Patriot Division champions, and took back the Gavel-Swanson Thanksgiving Day Trophy from rival Brookfield in a decisive 40-21 victory. Nine players received all SWC recognition. First Team All Conference went to Brian Birdsell, Phil Daluz, Brandon Schmidt, and Pete Serenscics. Second Team All Conference went to Brian Debacher, Billy Quinn, Cal Daniels, and Tyler Gall. Thiago Lanes earned honorable mention. To round out the season’s awards, Brian Birdsell and Peter Serenscics earned All State Class M honors.
Congratulations to all our Bethel High School fall sports teams for an exciting and successful season. I’d also like to say GOOD LUCK to all our winter sport programs: Girls/boys basketball, Wrestling, Ice Hockey, Indoor Track, Swimming, and Cheerleading, which are already underway!