Round of Applause
Quinnipiac hockey is in the freaking Frozen Four. By the time most of you read this, I’ll be in Pittsburgh with a bunch of friends to cover the event. None of this has really set in for newly minted alumni (like me) or my friends, but it’s pretty awesome what’s happening to our little school. Quinnipiac beat St. Cloud State 4-1 on Thursday night to advance to Saturday’s national title game against Yale. This is going to be an awful lot of fun.
My dog filled out a bracket that may well have been better than yours. The first bracket I made this year was totally determined by my 3-year-old yellow lab, Kacy. I got bored the day before the tournament started (also, I have some sort of phobia of filling out my first bracket any time before Wednesday night) so I grabbed a pair of tennis balls and summoned the dog to the living room. I placed the balls side by side and had the dog sit in front of them. When I yelled for Kacy to get the ball — you know, in that ridiculous, “GOO GET EET” voice some older women use while pinching a baby’s cheeks — her dog instincts compelled her to go after one of the balls. If she chose the ball to my left, that meant she wanted to choose the higher seed to win. If she chose the ball to my right, she wanted the upset. The results: Kacy finished in the 65.5th percentile in ESPN’s competition and nearly had her Wichita State over Michigan national championship (no, seriously, that’s what she had) come true. I haven’t been as upset at a game’s outcome as I was when Wichita lost Saturday night because the dog’s dream was over. Kacy also nailed Florida Gulf Coast’s upset of Georgetown, and at one point on the second day of the tournament, she was in the 94.7th percentile on ESPN.
Word from the Woods
Woodland is off to a hot, 4-0 start in Naugatuck Valley League play, including a surprising victory over Seymour on Monday. The Hawks knocked off the Wildcats, who were figured to be either the favorite or co-favorite this season, 5-4 thanks to a pair of late rallies. Brianna Pacileo tore a game-tying, two-run double in the top of the seventh to score Samantha White and Courtney Jurzynski. The following inning, Rachel Starkey ripped a two-run single to plate White and Fowler to take a 5-3 lead. Pitcher Samantha Lee survived a scare in the bottom half of the inning to secure the win and put the Hawks in the conversation as potentially the new league favorite. Woodland had little trouble in wins over St. Paul (11-4) and Watertown (8-2) in the first week of the NVL season but stumbled Saturday at New Canaan in a nonconference matchup, taking a 5-3 loss. The Hawks continued their NVL hot streak with a 13-0 win over Derby on Wednesday. Woodland will visit Ansonia on Friday, then returns for a three-game homestand starting Monday against Wolcott.
The Hawks picked up right where they left off in NVL competition, starting the season with four easy wins in a row. Woodland hasn’t won fewer than seven of the nine matches in any of its four league meets thus far. They included victories over Watertown (7-2), Sacred Heart (9-0), Crosby (7-2) and Torrington (7-2). Tuesday against the Red Raiders, five of the Hawks’ six singles players won their matches. Defending NVL singles champion Kyle Beynor led the charge while Steve Pec, Matt Murphy, Pat Dietz and Nick Rioux also earned victories. Pat Mulholland narrowly lost his No. 6 match in a tiebreaker, while the doubles teams of Jack Walsh-Mike Roulanaitis and Johan Haile-Mike Costa won their matches. The Hawks faltered in a nonconference matchup against state powerhouse East Catholic, suffering a 7-0 loss. Woodland traveled to Holy Cross on Thursday, results were not available as of this post, and will visit rival Wolcott on Monday and host Crosby next Wednesday.
The young Woodland squad, which doesn’t have a senior in its singles lineup, is off to an undefeated start to its season. The Hawks knocked off last year’s top two NVL teams, St. Paul and Watertown, by matching 5-2 counts last week, before beating Seymour 6-1 on Monday. Against the Indians, No. 2 singles player Rachel Mariano and No. 4 Jenica Bartlett both earned victories while the Hawks swept doubles competition. The teams of Liz Martin-Hope Gavigan, Jesse Erickson-Ayah Galal and Emily Rioux-Erica Boccuzzi all won to knock off the defending league champion and set an aggressive tone for the season. Woodland had the rest of this week off before three matches next week, starting Monday against Wolcott and Wednesday at Crosby.
Naugatuck is off to a strong start to this Naugatuck Valley League season, winning its first three league games thanks to a potent offense. Naugy has scored seven runs in each of its three conference victories over Wolcott (7-3), Holy Cross (7-5) and Sacred Heart (9-0). In Monday’s win over the Hearts, new pitcher Nina Kosciuszek allowed just two hits and struck out 11 while adding three hits. Kait Barry added two hits, two RBI and a run, Gillian Fortier knocked a two-run triple and Kara Klimaszewski had a two-run single with a run. The scoring slowed down for Greyhounds Wednesday versus Kennedy but the result was a 4-3 win. Naugatuck swept a doubleheader Thursday against Wilby. Naugatuck’s only loss thus far was a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Oxford, which boasts one of the state’s best pitchers in Ashley Guillette.
The Greyhounds are undefeated through their first week of the season with victories over Wolcott (6-3), Holy Cross (8-1), Torrington (9-0) and Sacred Heart (8-1). Naugy had no problem Monday with the Hearts as the ‘Hounds won all eight matches they played (their only loss was due to a forfeit). Singles players Julian Milek, Mike Popescu, Tyler Posser, Yun Chao Chen, Jake Morrissey and Jeff Hensley all won their matches while the doubles teams of Nate Lindsly-Fernando Branco and Jake Gingold-Marcus Cruz also earned victories. The Greyhounds beat Wilby, 9-0, on Thursday and head to Kennedy on Saturday before returning home Tuesday to face Crosby.
On the back of three tight wins in their first four matches, the ‘Hounds are off to a 4-1 start this spring. Naugy has defeated Wolcott (4-3), Torrington (4-3) Sacred Heart (5-2) and Kennedy (5-2) while its only loss came to Holy Cross (6-1). Monday against Sacred Heart, No. 1 singles player Hannah Kim earned a dominant victory in a shutout while No. 3 Mikaela Santo and No. 4 Sarah Cook also nabbed singles victories. The doubles teams of Ederiri Igbuya-Chelsea Iglesias and Liz Perez-Wynter Tremlett also earned wins to help put Naugatuck over the top. The Greyhounds beat Wilby, 7-0, on Thursday and will hit the road Monday to face Crosby.