September 26, 2017

An overview of the 2018 fall athletic season

Observer photo by Al Frey The CVU football team has a strong group of juniors ready to lead the team to a return to the state tournament.

Observer photo by Al Frey
The CVU football team has a strong group of juniors ready to lead the team to a return to the state tournament.

FOOTBALL

Coach: Mike Williams (second season)

Last year: 6-3, lost in D-I semifinals

Key returnees: Graham Walker, quarterback/safety, junior; Jake Bortnick, offensive line/linebacker, senior; Stephen Harlow, running back/defensive back, senior; Roarke Flad, offensive line/defensive line, senior.

Key newcomers: Andrew Tieso, running back/defensive back, junior; Caleb Jenson, halfback/defensive back, junior; Jack ZuWallack, fullback/linebacker, junior; Jason Rosner, fullback/defensive back, junior.

Outlook: After advancing to the semifinals last season — which ended in heartbreaking fashion on a last-second, game-winning touchdown pass for St. Johnsbury — Champlain Valley has some work to do to return to that level. The Redhawks lost a lot of talent to graduation, but do return quarterback Graham Walker and Stephen Harlow at running back. They will turn to a slew of juniors to bolster the offense and defense.

“They are a tight group and have a good grasp of what we are trying to do in all phases of the game,” said coach Mike Williams. “The goal, as always, is to get better each week and win the state championship,”

Observer photos by Al Frey CVU field hockey players practice stick-handling earlier this season.

Observer photos by Al Frey
CVU field hockey players practice stick-handling earlier this season.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Tucker Pierson (second season)

Last year: 7-3-4, lost in the D-I quarterfinals

Key returnees: Lydia Maitland, senior; Bella Rieley, senior; Nathalie Paquette, senior; Abby Rosenthal, senior; Flynn Hall, senior; Kristy Carlson, junior.

Key newcomers: Maggie Warren, sophomore; Lena Ashooh, freshman; Caroline Reynolds, junior.

Outlook: With an influx of new players to the team, second-year coach Tucker Pierson will be relying on the core of strong returning players to set the tone for the season. The team will focus on fundamental skills to start off the season and build toward playing its best as the postseason approaches.

“We are looking to play together to be successful,” Pierson said. “We will be working to build trust about the players, as well as increasing the level of fundamental field hockey skills.”

GIRLS SOCCER

Coach: Stan Williams (fifth season)

Last year: 10-2-2, lost in the D-1 semifinals

Key returnees: Hanna Swett, defense, senior; Lindsey Albertelli, defense, senior; Ali Bisaccia, midfield, senior; Natalie Durieux, midfield, senior; Lucy Hindes, midfield, senior; Hayley Clos, defense, senior; Sydney Jimmo, midfield, junior; Sara Kelley, midfield, junior; Charlotte Hill, forward, sophomore; Quinn Boardman, defense, sophomore; Maryn Askew, goalie, sophomore; Lilly Cazayoux, midfield, junior.

Key newcomers: Too early to tell.

Outlook: After failing to advance to the D-I final for the first time in five years, the Champlain Valley girls soccer team is looking to get back on track. The Redhawks will feature an experienced group, while coach Stan Williams is hoping to rely on the team’s depth and chemistry to return to the top. Defense will provide the backbone of the team, while CVU will have to replace some offense that was lost to graduation.

“This has the potential to be a very deep and talented team,” Williams said. “I look forward to seeing this group take on and embrace the challenge of the climb up the mountain.”

Observer photo by Al Frey The CVU boys soccer team looks to repeat as DI state champions in 2017.

Observer photo by Al Frey
The CVU boys soccer team looks to repeat as DI state champions in 2017.

BOYS SOCCER

Coach: Rob Cole (first season)

Last year: 10-2-2, lost in the D-I quarterfinals

Key returnees: Nate Coffin, senior; Brigham Francis, senior; Sawyer Mill-Bottoms, senior.

Key newcomers: Oliver Martin, freshman; Erik Stolen, sophomore.

Outlook: Champlain Valley, which fell in overtime in the playoffs last season, return with some veteran players and a new coach. Rob Cole takes the helm this season, taking over for Katie Mack, with an experienced defense — Jami Lashua, Luke Morton, Oliver Bijur and Ryan Trus. The offense will be helped with the return of Nate Coffin, who lost most of last season due to an injury, and the addition of freshman Oliver Martin.
“We have a lot of options on (defense),” Cole said. “It should make it difficult for teams to break us down.”

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY

Coach: Scott Bliss (18th season)

Last year: Division I state champions

Key returnees: Ella Whitman, junior; Jennifer Ireland, senior; Chloe Andrae, junior; Willow Bertrand, junior.

Key newcomers: Alice Larson, freshman; Emily Kingston, senior; Cate Noel, junior; Sadie Holmes, sophomore; Emma Strack, sophomore; Isabelle Mittlestedt, sophomore; Lila Carelton, sophomore.

Outlook: The CVU girls cross country team enters the season as the seven-time D-I state champs, but the team has some work to do if it wants to repeat. Three of the team’s top seven runners will be new, and the Redhawks will have to replace Sophia Gorman, who paced the team as the top runner the last two years.

“We didn’t expect to have that many new runners in our top 7,” said coach Scott Bliss. “They continue to prove that they are worthy and ready to be quality contributors.”

Observer photos by Al Frey The CVU boys cross country team has a young group of talent looking to run to a berth in the New England championships.

Observer photos by Al Frey
The CVU boys cross country team has a young group of talent looking to run to a berth in the New England championships.

BOYS CROSS COUNTRY

Coach: Scott Bliss (18th season)

Last year: Division I state champions

Key returnees: Baxter Bishop, senior; Jared Leonard, junior; Dylan Gooley, junior.

Key newcomers: Seamus Higgins, junior; Gavin Schaaf, freshman; Sean Gilliam, freshman; Skyler Heininger, freshman; Ian Rider, junior.

Outlook: After the graduation of five runners — including Gatorade Player of the Year Tyler Marshall — the Redhawks will look to newcomers if they want to repeat as D-I state champs. Veterans Baxter Bishop, Jared Leonard and Dylan Gooley will lead the team as it gets the newer harriers ready for the state race at Thetford.
“Our hopes are to continue to develop the very talented young guys we have and qualify for the New England championships,” Bliss said.

Observer photo by Al Frey CVU girls volleyball has a new coach and an eye on a repeat as state champions in 2017.

Observer photo by Al Frey
CVU girls volleyball has a new coach and an eye on a repeat as state champions in 2017.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Mike Detch (first season)

Last year: Division I state champions

Key returnees: Shannon Loiseau, senior; Makenzie Detch, junior; Tori Bergstein, senior; Rayonna Silverman, junior; Olivia Werner, junior; Mya Rendall, senior; Julia Daggett, junior; Shea Stirewalt, junior; Natalie Senior, junior.

Key newcomers: Leah Boget, sophomore; Reilly Wells, sophomore; Makenna Boyd, sophomore; Caroline Hill, sophomore; Sarah Johnson, sophomore.

Outlook: With a very talented group returning from a state championship winning season, the Champlain Valley girls volleyball team has some lofty goals for this year. The Redhawks are an athletic group, and first-year coach Mike Detch is implementing some new offensive strategies for the team to build on. Volleyball is one of the fastest growing sports at CVU — 64 girls turned out for try-outs — and continuing to build the program and encourage more success is a goal this year.

“We want to be the best people we can be, on and off the court,” Detch said. “Our goal is to play hard and focus on today’s task.”

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Jeff Boliba (second season)

Last year: Division I state champions

Key returnees: Noah Allen, middle blocker, sophomore; Jacob Boliba, hitter/setter, sophomore; Baker Angstman, libero, sophomore; Will Burroughs, middle blocker, senior; Garret Dunn, outside hitter, senior.

Key newcomers: Andrea Maccariello, hitter, senior; Ethan Harvey, hitter/setter, sophomore; Devin Rogers, middle blocker, freshman; Cooper Snipes, middle hitter, junior.

Outlook: After winning the first boys volleyball state championship last season, CVU will look to repeat with a group that returned a strong core, including Jacob Boliba, who led the team in kills in the final, and Noah Allen, who led the team in blocks. Add in Baker Angstman, who led the team in digs, and you have the team to beat this season.

“We have a versatile group of players that will allow the coaching staff many different options for lineups, positioning and game strategy,” coach Jeff Boliba said.

GIRLS GOLF

Coach: Tammy Anthony (third season)

Last year: Seventh place in the D-I state tournament

Key returnees: Lauren Hanley, senior; Claire Smith, junior; Ali Bisaccia, senior; Emma Hoechner, senior; Sadie Hoechner, senior.

Key newcomers: Sophia Cresta, junior; Maddy Oliver, junior.

Outlook: It is a quick turnaround for the Champlain Valley girls golf team, which competed in the spring season before golf became a fall sport this year. The short break will help, coach Tammy Anthony said, with the players capitalizing on a summer of playing and no worries about weather. CVU will be led by Ali Bisaccia, who finished sixth in the state tournament last season, and a crew of experienced players.

“Most of these girls can really drive the ball,” Anthony said. “The short game we do have to work on … but they pick it up really quickly.”

Observer photo by Al Frey Boys golf follows up the spring season with summer practices for its first-ever fall season this year.

Observer photo by Al Frey
Boys golf follows up the spring season with summer practices for its first-ever fall season this year.

BOYS GOLF

Coach: Seth Emerson (sixth season)

Key returnees: Ben Gramling, junior; Andrew Wilkinson, junior; Nate Godbout, sophomore.

Key newcomers: Hank Caswell, senior; Evan Forrest, freshman; Kyle Rexford, freshman; Cam Labounty, junior.

Outlook: The Champlain Valley boys golf team faces the same quick turnaround as the girls, coming off a spring season right into the new fall schedule. With shorter days will come nine-hole matches and a chance for this young team to gain match experience. The Redhawks feature a lot of young talent, but are thin on experience, so the early part of the season will be about getting on the course and building to sectionals in October.

“Our goal is to get more and more competitive throughout the year and qualify for states,” coach Seth Emerson said.

CHEERLEADING

Coach: Courtney Troescher

Key returnees: Claire Gugerty, senior; Sophia Barton, senior; Sara Holm, senior; Angela Tarracciano, junior; Shayla Lawrence, junior; Annaliese Kramer, sophomore; Deona Proulx, sophomore; Binney Patton, sophomore; Lily Michalak, sophomore; Emily Foster, sophomore.

Key newcomers: Destiny MacDougal, freshman; Lily Taff, freshman; McKenna Raymond-Batdorf, freshman; Allison Smardon, sophomore; Natascha Oberli, sophomore; Mason Howe, junior; Annabelle Duhnke, junior.

Outlook: The Champlain Valley cheerleading team will look to build off the momentum built up after a preseason cheer camp. The team earned a spirit award and placed first in the game day competition, which the Redhawks will look to build off of as they prepare for the championships in October.

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