The school year that has been over just a few weeks might seem like forever to some, but we’re not ready to put it to bed quite yet. We prefer looking back at the best our area athletes had to offer during the academic year.
As we do every summer, we’ll take a look back at the top 10 senior athletes of the year. Of course, there are plenty more outstanding senior athletes who helped their teams to victories and gained Naugatuck Valley League and state honors, but we had to pick only 10, listed alphabetically.
Top 10 Senior Athletes
Alexya Alves (Naugatuck soccer): Alves leaves Naugatuck as one of the program’s all-time leading scorers, finishing her career with 56 goals. She helped Naugy to the NVL finals and earned the NVL Top Senior award, in addition to gaining All-State recognition on the pitch.
Adam Branco (Naugatuck soccer, swimming, track): The history of Naugy’s boys soccer program is a great one, and now Branco sits among the school’s best-ever players after becoming the all-time leading goal scorer last season. Branco earned All-New England honors as well as being named the NVL’s Top Senior. He also stood out among the Greyhounds’ top swimmers and all-around track athletes.
Levi Fancher (Woodland football, track): Fancher started his year by leading Woodland to its second straight NVL Copper Division title and a Class S championship appearance on the gridiron, and he finished it by winning the Class M shot put competition. Fancher also leaves Woodland with several football records and earned All-State honors as a linebacker.
Gillian Fortier (Naugatuck softball): NVL pitchers will be happy they don’t have to face Fortier anymore. Fortier concluded her career as one of the top hitters in Naugatuck’s softball history and earned All-State and All-NVL accolades in each of her four seasons.
Ryne Griesenauer (Naugatuck football, basketball): The 6-foot-5 wide receiver enjoyed one of the best individual seasons in the Greyhounds’ storied history, topping the 1,000-yard mark and snagging 14 touchdowns. He also led Naugy on the hardwood as the Greyhounds’ leading scorer and rebounder.
Tanner Kingsley (Woodland football, basketball, baseball): The youngest of the Kingsleys finished his career as likely the best three-sport athlete in school history, and perhaps in NVL history. He is the only athlete in state history to record 100 touchdown passes and 1,000 basketball points, and he boasts at least one All-State honor in each of his three sports.
Mike Lang (Woodland football, track): Few NVL athletes enjoyed the career consistency of Lang, who leaves the league as its undisputed top jumper. His highest accolade saw him go All-New England, but he claims more than a dozen NVL gold medals throughout his career. He also joined the football squad for his senior year as a kickoff return specialist.
Samantha Lee (Woodland volleyball, softball): A four-year starting pitcher, Lee helped the Hawks remain as one of the league’s top softball squads throughout her career, which saw her go All-NVL this spring. But her breakout came on the volleyball court, where she became an All-NVL setter and led Woodland to its first state championship in November.
Brianna Pacileo (Woodland volleyball, softball): Most of Lee’s passes found Pacileo, the fearsome hitter who became the top player in the school’s — and possibly the NVL’s — history. She was the 2013 Class M tournament MVP and went All-State in each of her last two years. Pacileo also led off for the softball squad and earned All-Brass Division honors.
Angelina Piccirillo (Naugatuck soccer, basketball): Piccirillo often brought toughness and a passing touch to the Greyhounds as they made a run to the NVL soccer final. She also finished as the NVL’s fifth-leading scorer on the hardwood and earned All-Copper Division honors both in soccer and basketball.